If our Tuesday in Alajuela was a day of rest, we made up for it completely on Wednesday. The goal was to drive to Arenal Volcano to try, again, to see a volcano, and to visit the city of La Fortuna. John and Mary had been there and highly recommended the hot springs there, and a waterfall a few miles outside of town.
We had to drive on some bumpy, gravely back roads to get to the waterfall, but we finally made it. The matter-of-fact woman who sold us our tickets told us it was 496 steps down to the waterfall. My mom was game, so we slapped over our money and began the descent. It was a looonnnggg way down. And these weren’t stairs like you find in a football stadium. These were more like hunks of cement waffles stuck into the dirt at differing angles and heights. There was a single or double length of chain to use as a handrail for the descent. Little did I realize that as grateful as I was for it on the way down, it would be a Godsend on the way up.
Down, down, down, down we walked. Then, while you are still a bridge away from the waterfall, you get a glimpse of it through the green leaves and underbrush. And you realize, “I would walk down into Hell to see a sight like this.” I’m typing this from memory as I sit in our bedroom in Virginia on a cold, soon-to-be-snowy day. We’ve been home for just short of a week, and still my breath catches in my throat when I think of this waterfall. It was loud, so amazingly loud. Surrounded by smooth, black boulders. There was only one other couple there when we arrived. The man was frollicking in the water, while the woman sat huddled on the rocks, watching…not apprehensively, but…warily.
The rocks were slippery enough that Mom found a place to perch up a little ways from the water. She was in charge of the shoes, backpack, and towels. The children were all wearing their life jackets and swim suits, and Zoe was so keen to get into the water. Noa was inclined to snuggle with me while she got used to this amazing, new place. The water was a beautiful greenish-blue. The spray from the force of the falling water hitting on the surface of the pool was soaking as we sat on the rocks. Zachary slipped out of his shoes and crab-crawled his way down to the water. One dip in was enough for him. The water was cool, but comfortable. Zoe plunged right in, and the force of the blast from the waterfall kept pushing her into the rocks. She bobbed along in her life vest, like a cork.
There were signs posted promising imminent death if you found yourself under the force of the falling onslaught from the waterfall, but it truly seemed like it would have taken a superhuman effort to get under there. The “tide” pushing away from the waterfall was so strong.
We played near the waterfall for awhile, then regathered our things and moved around the curve of the river to a quieter pool area where all the children could comfortably play and splash. There were lots of fish hanging out in the water, just making their way down stream, one wiggle at a time.
We splashed and wiggled in the water ourselves for awhile, then started the long, long climb out of the canyon. The children were tickled by the ice cream waiting at the top, and we were all so grateful we had made the effort.
My goal for picture taking is memory making, hence, I don’t worry too much about framing or filters, but this waterfall made me wish I had the skill of Ansel Adams so that I could truly capture the natural beauty. It was magical in many ways.