This is Julia writing. Today we woke up early (think 5:30..) to take a long bus ride to Salto de Guyabo, a huge waterfall in a jungle. The fourteen of us along with twenty-five Cubans piled onto a gigantic tour bus to travel two hours into the mountains. Picture a huge coach bus trying to navigate one way streets, highways with no visible signage, and dirt inclines that last for miles. Different world.
We arrived at Salto de Guyabo before 10 a.m. to breathtaking views of the valley and waterfalls. We got to climb up tree houses and go out on rickety planks overlooking some real cool stuff, and we were told that there would be two different hikes before lunch. Little did we know what lay ahead!
The first hike we took was very nice. We walked down a path and saw beautiful views, took lots of pictures, and saw a little manmade pool. We were told that we could swim in the pool, but if we chose to take the second hike, we could swim in a natural pool at the foot of the waterfall. Everyone picked the second option, because it sounded totally awesome.
We were told that the second hike would be a physically challenging and that it would take about an hour and a half each way, with some time at the bottom of the waterfall to play. OMG!! Let me describe for you what it actually involved…. We started out down some very misleading steps with a nice railing that made me believe this whole thing was a good idea. After the 15 or so steps, all we saw was a muddy, winding path down a steep mountain covered in slippery rocks. If you´re thinking to yourself right now ‘WOW, my kid must have hated that’ — you may be right. It is very possible that I have never been that scared before in my life (yeah mom, I am serious).
Our guide was there to grab onto us every time we needed help. I pulled ahead with Anna, Kate, Carol, and Michelle (with the boys and Martina following close behind) to try and get this endless hike over with sooner. We all gathered for a five minute break about fifteen minutes before the bottom of the 1.5 mile (completely made that number up, but it was long) downward hike, and it was clear that we were all fine. A few of the children that came with us were really young and completed the hike in flip flops and ballet flats. Finally, we got to the waterfall after only a few minor wipeouts along the way.
The view was gorgeous! Everybody cooled off by jumping, flopping, or literally sliding into the pool created by the waterfall, and even though I was a little bit too grumpy and scared to go in, it looked like a lot of fun. Happily Dan had brought his waterproof camera, so there were quite a few fun photo-ops underneath the falls.
All good things must come to an end, and it was time do the uphill leg of the hike from hell. I was actually surprised how much easier going up was, and it was a really good workout. Regardless, everyone was very happy to finally reach the top, drink water, and eat!
We had a fun late lunch with our Cuban pals and then we set off again on our giant bus around four. Most people fell asleep on the bus ride home because we were pretty wiped out. I think we were all very relieved to arrive back at the church and relax, and everyone was happy to hear that we do not have to attend church services tonight.
Right now everyone is chilling, and we are hoping to get to bed early! Tomorrow we are going to Gibara, a smaller town on the water. We´re planning to stay overnight there and may not have internet access, so there is a chance a blog will not be sent.
Special father´s day shoutout to Paul and also everyone else´s dad.