A New Friend
This past weekend, the entire group of volunteers–except for me–traveled to Ecuador’s coast. Seeing that I don’t like staying at the beach for more than an hour (much less three days), and that I was in serious need of some unscheduled, non-regimented Me Time, I elected to stay behind. My time alone was just that: a lot of time…alone. But as tragic as that may sound, I had a very relaxing, very restorative three days to myself.
Amidst the DVDs and abundant sleep, however, I did manage to have one adventure. Day 2 of alone-time was a Sunday, and when the stadium was closed, I decided to supplement my non-run with a long walk around Otavalo. In the middle of the walk, I happened upon a lovely park. But what made it a bit less lovely were the men whistling at me from a distance. Choosing to at first ignore these bold thirsting men, I sat down alone on a park bench a few dozen meters away. I would have gone farther if it were not for the uncomfortable lump in my chest that appears every time I get cat-called.
And so I sat for a mere 20 seconds, soaking up some air and trying in vain to look invisible (white skin glows even in the daylight in Otavalo). And before i knew it, I had a stranger sitting next to me on the park bench, telling me his name was Diego. After a bit of small talk, Diego cut to the chase and asked me if I had ever seen the waterfall before. “What waterfall I asked, naively?” “This waterfall,” he said, pointing at 10 o’clock. “It’s quite close.” After revealing to me that this waterfall was in actuality about half an hour’s walk from our current resting place, I calculated that there was no reason not to go, I had no itinerary for the afternoon, and certainly had nothing better planned, so why the hell shouldn’t I go see a waterfall with my new friend Diego?
I can sense that my cautious readers are counting the reasons on their fingers why I should not accompany a perfect stranger to Otavalo’s most romantic make-out spot, but I thought better of course.
Diego and I sauntered along a dusty path for noticeably longer than 30 minutes until we got to the waterfall. Granted, the detour to the gigantic white erect cross may have been to blame for the delay. But crosses and detours aside, Diego and I chatted it up like school chums, and before i new it, I was in waterfall vicinity. After walking along the skinniest concrete bridge I’ve ever dared to cross (does the width of my foot sound skinny enough?), we made it to the bottom of the waterfall. A few uphill turns and steps later, we were at the waterfall.
“Beautiful” cannot begin to describe any cascading body of crystal-clear liquid (don’t let your mind stray). I am really not sure how to describe this waterfall, but being so close to it actually reminded me of a Discovery Channel special that I watched in sophomore year’s biology class, where the camera slowed down the picture drastically enough to capture water at a near-molecular level. One part of the film showed water spilling out of a faucet so that the trajectory of each individual bead was noticeable. The dancing beads of water reminded me a lot of what I saw at the very top of the splattering waterfall
Diego and i made our way back by sunset. Overall it was a great experience, and in hindsight I’m glad that I allowed myself to trust a perfect stranger. I know that to some people that sounds naive or even ignorant, but I like to take each life situation as it comes to me, and judge it individually for what it is. Diego turned out to be a nice guy, and fortunately, my judgment has not failed me thus far.