We were excited to go back to the jungle, and share an adventure with other travelers. We packed our bags for the day, and met up at the hostel three blocks from our apartment in Puerto Escondido. We were a group of eight, led by the hostel owner, whom we had met before. From the start, this felt like a very casual and easy excursion, made exciting by the fact that we’d get to swim by a big waterfall. I had not looked up this place online, so I had no idea what it would actually look like. But if Instagram taught me anything, it’s that waterfalls are a must for travelers, right?
After about 2 hours on the pick up truck, we were all happy to get off it. Some of us got carsick as the dirt roads were windy and very narrow. There was barely room for one car to pass through. I was just worried about falling off the cliff, but as I would learn later that afternoon, cliffs were not going to take part in our mishaps.
We crossed a river holding hands, all of us worried the water would reach our smartphones and cameras. After climbing around some rocks, the waterfall was in full view. It was a loud and tall beauty!
The best part was getting to know the people we were hanging out with. An American photographer from San Diego, California that comes to Mexico quite often. Two Canadian friends who just graduated high school. An Austrian that just quit his job, and does not know what he is going to do next. These were our kind of people.
We started swimming in the cold water – a nice break from the incredibly humid weather down in the coast. The air was nice and crisp here in the mountains. We tried to get really close to the waterfall but it was impossible. The current kept pushing us away from it, and the mist made it difficult to see. Bradley and I laughed out loud, playing like kids would. Until it was not fun anymore.
At some point everyone got out of the water, so we tried to do the same, but we could not. It was as if the current changed direction, all of a sudden, dragging us towards the rocks and away from shore. I could not touch the bottom, and whenever I did, my feet slipped in the moss. Not to mention the sensation grossed me out so much, it was debilitating. I knew I was not touching an alligator, but this is where my mind went, and it added fear on top of panic.
We swam and swam with little to no progress. “I can’t swim for much longer,” I told Bradley. Our limbs were getting tired, and if we did not swim, we’d hit some pretty big boulders. “Swim boo,” Bradley said, and I knew from his tone that he was urging me to.
Bradley had sneakers on, which helped him manage to hold on to a boulder, but I kept slipping. The moss was so thick; the sensation gave me chills. Bradley pulled me by the arm, and used his strength to take us both to another boulder…and another. “We should scream,” I suggested. Our group was out of sight, and I wanted to let them know we needed help. But Bradley felt that would be useless. The waterfall was very loud, and we needed the energy to swim.
We rested on the boulders until the water seemed to calm down enough. I am not an expert in rivers and currents, so if you know what the heck this sudden shifting in current was, please educate us in the comments below. I, for one, have new found respect for mother nature.
Once we swam back to safety, we decided to not let our experience taint everyone else’s. So we kept to ourselves. I meditated and snacked on a big boulder, while Bradley sipped a beer on another boulder.
We got back on the truck and stopped by a very simple restaurant/home for a home-cooked meal. The family there lived in very difficult conditions. I had to use their bathroom, and was so sad to see they had sheets instead of walls and a dirt floor inside their home. I realized my clear privilege in being born where I was. As we ate dinner rain really started pouring down. The road looked like a brown river, and lightning hit closely by. Not the safest way to ride back as most people were sitting in the back of a pick-up truck.
Once the rain stopped, we started driving back home though there was only one more obstacle. Our truck got stuck in the mud. In an effort to make things better, we made them a lot worse. Who knows how long we were there. All I know is that I have never been more attracted to Bradley as he took on a leadership role, and was very hands on in getting the mud out from under the vehicle. You bet I fell 10 times more in love that day.
A few men drove past in their motorbikes and trucks, but most would give up and leave. Everyone was avoiding the jungle at night, of course. Did I mention jaguars live in this area? Right. So we HAD to find a way home. I told myself it would be ok if we had to sleep the night there. Hopefully the hostel staff would get concerned and send help our way at some point, right?
Eventually, two men driving past in a small truck pulled us out of the mud and off we went. This entire day made me feel like something or someone else was constantly in control as things kept happening to deviate us from a good time. But this is a reality when it comes to adventure travel. Any kind of travel, actually, can be filled with mishaps and stressful situation that will NOT necessarily be making it to Instagram. I’m happy to share the good and bad with you.
But hey, at least the views were killer and we are still alive! So, waterfalls…The famous backdrop to Instagrammers’ travel blogging. Are they really that much fun? They are beautiful, sure, and I do not regret this experience at all! But as you scroll down social media posts and find yourself looking at picture perfect pictures of exotic destinations, don’t be fooled by looks. Some things are not as easy and peaceful as they might look. And you should always be cautious when traveling. I feel as if we might have overlooked important safety details. This was, of course, never our intent.
I appreciate you so much for taking the time to read this post. Comment below a travel mishap that made you more grateful for the comforts of your daily life. Until next time…
Happy (Safe) Travels!