last week, i spent five days hiking through the amazon with eight soulful women up to kaieteur falls.
it started off with a long bus ride on the lethem highway. during the day, you can see how the red road digs its way through the jungle. each dangerous dip and sharp turn was accompanied by a mix of soca, madonna, enrique iglesias, and everyone’s favorite early 2000s r&b/hip hop classics. just another day in a mini bus.
after a quick break, we took another drive through a small town towards the potaro river where we waited in the rain for our boat to take us across to our first camp site. the river is so different in the night. the water is dauntingly still, it was like gliding across liquid glass.
the next day, we took a long boat ride through the potaro river onto amatuk where we would rest before hiking up to kaieteur falls. the sun revealed the living jungle beside us, how it traces along the river. and then there were the mountains that overlook guyana and the mysterious things that inhabit it. i’m far from home.
at the bottom of the mountain, we had a couple warm up hikes where we fell into creeks, bruised our butts on broken branches, unintentionally swung on vines, and constantly slipped on rocks. as we were leaving the first waterfall, i stayed back to take in my surroundings again and was delighted by the company of two blue morpho butterflies dancing together wildly in the wind. i wish i could’ve joined them.
at the guest house, conversations ran deep as we often share our pains and frustrations with service when we get together. but this time with a greater acceptance of the things we’ve seen, experienced, and have survived from. we’ve all lived our own hard life here in guyana but have found strength, resiliency, connection, healing, growth, knowledge, empathy, generosity, understanding of ourselves, understanding of others, and even love because of it. we sense the end is nearing and we feel relieved in a way, but also sad. it’s the final chapter of this book.
finally, we begin our hike to kaieteur falls.
roy, our tour guide, tells us to remain vigilant towards snakes on the ground.
“ok yea, got it. watch out for snakes.”
*side note: everything on the ground resembles a snake.
we step into the breathing green jungle–the layers of giant leaves i’ve only had the pleasure of painting are now brushing against my sweaty skin, the symphony of sounds singing in my ears from the life hidden in the trees, no barriers or beaten path to follow–it was such an unfamiliar world to me.
a few hours later, the canopy of leaves begin to open up and the soil beneath our feet suddenly turns granite. legs are burning, chest is tighting, it was no walk in the park. we’ve reached the top. roy pauses and tells us to close our eyes.
ready? he said.
hand by hand, we’re safely led out to the ledge.
one, two, three.
the excitement overwhelmed us all.
i’m certain none of us had ever been in the presence of anything so beautiful
especially this city slicker
~ the fog and mist kept teasing us
only giving us a glimpse of kaieteur
until it hid him completely
but even the little that we saw was incredible.
we headed back to the cabin to finally put our heavy backpacks down and get out of our sweaty, smelly clothes. we’ll have better luck tomorrow.
though we were sore and sleepy after dinner, we couldn’t wait for the next day and decided to walk to the falls.
i thought it was magnificent before, but the darkness only brought out it’s majesty more.
i remember standing there wondering, how do I make this last?
my first instinct was to take a picture, but my screen only showed black.
it was like the moon only wanted my eyes to see it–how it illuminates kaieteur, brightening the masses of water that jump off the mountain and down into an uncultivated valley.
the moon put it all into perspective.
exist in this moment
breathe in what you see
breathe out what you feel
accept where you are
lean into it