They say sometimes the journey is as much fun as the destination. Or something like that. Well, that proved true for us on Thursday seeing as…we didn’t actually make it to our destination (but we still had a fantastic day!) Since we had a day off of school, Rachel, Heisha, and I decided to go and find Las Tinajas in the rainforest—a section of a river where there is a natural waterslide, a rock to jump from, and a rope hung over the swimming area.
So, following our directions, we took the correct exit from Hwy 53. We turned right on Hwy 975, like the directions said. We continued, looking for Hwy 971 where we were supposed to turn again. We were starting to think we’d been on the road too long, when we rounded a bend and saw…Hwy 53. The road had looped around and brought us to the previous exit. So, we turned around, and headed back the way we’d come, keeping our eyes peeled for 971. We still didn’t see it. But what we did see was a police car stopped along the road, and we decided to stop and ask for directions.
His response, (in Spanish), was, “Las Tinajas? I’ll go right now. Follow me.”
Perfect! A police escort to the waterfalls!
As it turns out, our directions had been wrong. We should have turned LEFT onto Hwy 975 at the beginning.
The policeman made the turn onto 971, then stopped and turned onto the small road that would lead us to the parking area. He told us we’d have to go through the gate, and pay the man whose land it was so we could park there. We came to the end of the road…a large, run-down home on our right with a chain over the entrance and several cars parked in the yard, or the road continued past a large iron gate (which was open). We figured the lot to the right with the cars was the place to go. So we sat there awkwardly…until a woman in a bright pink dress came over and told us she’d get the owner. He was down in the yard, so she went down, clapping her hands at him to get his attention, and brought him up to us. We paid him our $2, found a parking spot in the muddy yard, and set off up the river.
|The house next to which we parked.|
It had rained in the morning, which made the current strong in places, and we took our time picking our way over the rocks and around “elephant and mammoth sized boulders” and sometimes hiking up into the trees to avoid places that looked decidedly treacherous. After almost 2 hours of wading (with lots of stopping and breaks thrown in), it was getting close to 4pm. We looked up the river; no waterfalls or natural water slide in sight. At that point, we decided it was time to turn around, because if it took us as long to get back, we didn’t want to be stuck in the river as the sun went down.
The trek back took only about an hour, and we stopped to swim and enjoy the water a bit. Never mind the fact that trees kept moving right in front of Rachel and hitting her head, and that we all fell at least once or twice (though Rachel stabbed her knee with a rock and has the lump to prove her fall was worst). We had fun.
We emerged from the river at about 5pm, wet, a little tired, and pretty happy. As we left the lot, a younger man came by to open it up for us (as it turns out, it wasn’t locked; we could have moved it ourselves). He asked if we’d gone to Las Tinajas, and we said we’d tried but had turned back. He said, “I’ve never gone there through the river. I always just take the path.” Turns out we’d parked in the wrong place (or at least the place where the going was tougher). If we’d continued up the road, there is another yard where a gentleman charges people to park in his yard, and there’s a very easy path right to the swimming area. Next time. J
Back in the car on the way home, Rachel set up her “office” to grade her poetry portfolios for the end of the year—complete with a stapler (with a cute turtle on it!) which kept falling, and a book light when it got dark—and we relaxed. We stopped for food along the way—Subway, followed by ice cream at Maggie Moo’s. We ate in the car in the parking lot, and Heisha ended up leaning out her window because her ice cream was dripping. She ended up with ice cream all down her car door…but one must admit that’s preferable to ice cream all over the seat.
When we got home around 8pm, we were happy—despite not having reached the actual goal.