Day 6 - El Cascada

It was Friday when we awoke, meaning it was the day the world would find out who would be the final two countries competing in the World Cup semifinals. The Nicaraguans root for South American teams, so it was kind of awkward when I told them that I basically rooting against all those teams. Then it was even more awkward when all the European teams I was rooting for won… But it was a good conversation topic.

Catherine woke everyone up at 8 like normal. After breakfast we walked down the Finca’s “road” (dirt trail) to the “main road” (wider dirt trail) where we got on a bus with the Nicaraguan students and headed to Cascada San Ramon. It’s this big waterfall up by Volcan Concepcion. It was an hour-long bus ride, but with the heat and lack of circulation on the bus, it felt even longer.

The trail to the waterfall started by a beach next to the lake. The trail was a gradually inclining dirt path that turned out not to be the actual trail but just a path up to the real trail. The real trail was also a dirt road, but much steeper. We had been told the hike should only take an hour or so, and all of the Nicaraguans showed up wearing sandals, so we weren’t really worried. The path just kept going up and never leveled off. There were parts of the trail where people agreed that it looked just like Discovery Park. The final climb to the waterfall was the hardest and included walking up the river climbing over rocks. The trek turned out to be much more than we had expected and by the time we got to the top everyone was exhausted and overheated. I actually got split up from the group of Americans near the beginning and ended up walking with the Nicaraguans. The difference in the groups was the pace, so I got to the top 20 minutes or so before everyone else, and I don’t have many stories to share from the climb.

As I was climbing over the rocks in the river, I looked up and saw a little trickle of water coming off a cliff about 100 yards away. I got kind of mad because what I saw was a complete letdown to what I had imagined the water fall to look like. I didn’t really have anyone to ask whether it was the waterfall or not, so I just kept walking. It turned out that was just a part of the waterfall that got diverted off to the side. The real waterfall was huge and spectacular. So spectacular I don’t have words to describe. I’m going to let Ben use some of his SAT vocabulary words that he found on his shower curtain (yes, Ben has a shower curtain with SAT vocab words) to try and describe the beauty of the waterfall:

All right, lemme set the scene for you: picture if you will a paradise where fairies caper, cavort, and frolic with the other sprites and woodland creatures; a place where magic is real. Well that’s not what it looked like at all.

In fact, the events transpired more like so: the scene begins with our weary crew marching up on an unremitting vertical slog. It’s hot and it’s humid, spawning an uncomfortable situation where your sweat is indistinguishable from the condensing moisture on your skin. Rivulets converge and become streams, then rivers of sweat, cascading in waterfalls off your face and arms. A single thought resonated throughout all of our minds: “surely it must be just over this knob or around this bend,” and then suddenly it was.

The Cascada San Ramon, well, cascaded over a verdant wall, majestically falling hundreds of feet into a shallow pool. The mere act of looking at it cooled me down, and, most surprisingly, the cascada seemed to generate its own wind. Despite facing a sheer three-hundred-foot cliff, we found ourselves wonderfully refreshed by a stiff breeze laced with impossibly cool water (impossibly cool because the rain here is like seventy-five degrees and the temperature rarely dips to seventy, if even that).

As students, Nicaraguan and American, slowly trickled up over the rise to the pool, snacks were extracted from backpacks and quickly broken into by a ravenous crowd. Hypoglycemic and heat stroke afflicted students and teachers alike were able to make a quick recovery, and once the blood sugars and core temperatures had been stabilized, we were all able to fully appreciate our surroundings. Some of us sat, some hopped from rock to rock, and some backtracked down the trail to relieve themselves; all of these activities performed with a snack in hand.

Later, after some discussion as to the proper etiquette regarding swimming in water that could later be used for drinking, we concluded that swimming was appropriate, and even necessary. (For those readers who might be appalled by the proposition of swimming in drinking water, I assure you, there was a unanimous consensus among the Nicaraguan authority figures that swimming was entirely OK.) And so the swimming and picture taking began, us in our swim suits, and them in their jeans and T-shirts; everybody was thoroughly drenched. Then, when we had had our fill, we packed up and left the golden sky, tranquil breeze, and stunning beauty behind us as we descended into the sticky jungle that lay between us and the even stickier bus. It was an afternoon to remember.

Thanks Ben. I’m glad you could find almost 2 hours of your day to write that for us. (It took him an astonishingly long time.) Amy, you should think about getting Ben some ADD medication. When we finally got our toiletries, the guys had all not shaved for 3 or 4 days so there was a rather pernicious case of the stubble going around. When the toiletries came, people starting shaving. However, I decided not to. My facial hair has gotten well… again, I don’t really have the words to describe it so I am going to let Ben give it a try:

Thanks Will, I’m not sure whether there are any words on my shower curtain to describe the growth on your chin, but here’s the best I can do: GRUBBY.

Thanks for that one Ben, you truly do have a way with words. The hike down was significantly easier than the climb up; the only problem was making sure you didn’t slip on the rocky trail. I think everyone kept their balance well and there were no injuries besides stubbed toes. Madeleine would like me to report that she was able to maintain a conversation with Alexander, a Nicaraguan student, for the entire descent. This is an example of how much everyone’s Spanish is improving. I learned how to say “hace mucho calor.” This mean “it is very hot.” Madeleine also got stung by a bee on the way down.

The bus picked us up at the bottom and took us to Hotel Merida, a nice, touristy hotel near the waterfall, to eat lunch. The lunch was delicious but the best part was that they had Wi-Fi and laptops to use!!! Everyone was super excited about being able to check their Facebooks and send emails. They also had a dock which you could jump off into the lake. The water was warmer than I had hoped, but was still cool enough to be amazingly refreshing. Punneh taught the Nicaraguans some wrestling moves as they struggled to throw each other off the dock into the water. The game got pretty crazy, but no one got hurt. Peter and Ben got a little tricky and started doing backflips off the dock.

I fell asleep on the bus ride back, but I know it happened. We had to walk up the trail to the Finca, and it was getting dark at the time. I told Ben I was really tired (in Spanish of course) and, being the burly, young man that he is, insisted that he give me a piggy-back ride all the way up the hill. He made it pretty far but eventually had to set me down. It was a good effort.

Beef was served with our rice and beans for dinner today. Catherine has given us permission to sleep in tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll capitalize on that and not stay up too late. We are aware that tomorrow is the 4th and plans are being made for some sort of “Fiesta de los Gringos” (Party of the White People).

Necisitamos mas cervesas,


(We learned that Spanish from the drunk English tourists dining next to us at the Finca. They are quite entertaining.)


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