I figured there is always a little bit of an exaggeration in everything any tour guide says and, thus, I discounted his assertion.
It was a pleasant walk through the cloudforest to reach the waterfalls. A peaceful walk, indeed.
By now, we strangers on the tour bus were a lot more comfortable with each other. We talked a lot more. A whole lot of interesting small talk. With the Colombian-American about fried bananas. About goulash with the Hungarian-American. About California and life with the couple from the Sierras.
And then I heard. The sound of water.
I love waterfalls. After all, right from my toddler days, I have been to the falls at Courtallam, which was only a couple of miles away from grandmother's home. We could never have enough of the falls though--we had to return to Neyveli and get back to school.
As the sound of water started getting louder and louder, the more excited I became. And then, there it was!
I chatted with Roberto the most. "The girls in Costa Rica are beautiful" he said. I agreed with him. "Here and in Cuba, too. Latin bodies with a European flavor" he added. I suppose if I were his age, I too would be analyzing women like that. With age, everything takes on a different perspective. Beauty is in the age of the beholder.
From the bend, I could see many of my tour group travelers appreciating the waterfalls from the observation deck. I still had no idea what was in store for me.
And then I reached that deck.
It was magnificent. Awesome. Nope, all those are terrible understatements.
No photo of mine can ever capture what I saw and experienced there.
"Be careful if you want to go down there" Alberto warned us. I removed my glasses and placed them in a pocket of my cargo shorts. And climbed down.
With every step, the spray from the falls increased. It was delightful. Soothing. Comforting. Welcoming. Peaceful. I was overjoyed.
I reached the railing at the end. I could feel a lot of the spray. I felt the waterfalls washing away my pain. My disappointments. My problems. My worries. I stood there with my arms stretched outwards on the sides. I remember feeling one with the waterfalls. There was a strange sense of oneness with the world.
Perhaps that is what the faithful feel when they go for a holy dip in the Ganges. The river washes away the problems if they feel that oneness. Oneness with the water. With the world.
I had always speculated, tongue-in-cheek, that most of my travels are my own versions of pilgrimages. In this case, it seemed so much to be the case. It was bliss as I stood there getting damp from the spray from the falls.
But, of course, all good things come to an end, eventually. I walked up to Alberto. "Muy bueno" I told him. "Gracias." If only I knew the Spanish word for "awesome."
It was mostly a silent bus as we drove back to San Jose. Perhaps it was the exhaustion for some. Not for me. I felt exhilarated. Re-energized. Revitalized. I reviewed some of the photos I had clicked. I could not believe I had been to all those places and experienced all those that I did.
I am an incredibly lucky guy. I hope my lucky streak will continue. For a very long time.