A week and a half ago, we journeyed to one of the most beautiful, most remote places on earth. On the southern part of the island, about 1.5 hours drive from the compound, up and down some serious gradient roads, is Ureca, its sparkling black-diamond beaches and, its waterfalls.
Apart from the drive, and the walks along beach and through jungle, Ureca is not exactly the easiest place to get to. Being a “place of interest” means a permit is required in order to access the beach. Permit in hand, organised by a couple of our group members, our large group made our way onto the hot black sand and spied our first slender waterfall descending into a shallow river leading into the sea.
Desperate to swim in a waterfall, I was ready to launch straight into the water and dip my head into the stream falling from the rocks above. No, I was told, we weren’t stopping here, there were much better waterfalls where we were going later (what?).
Before embarking on the 45 minute long wander along the sand, came the first of many river crossings. So it was off with the hiking boots, and hang on, off with the pants? And shirt… With backpacks atop heads, we waded through the river – chest deep in places, before reaching the other side.
The beach walk finally gave way to our first official waterfall spot – a gorgeous rocky lagoon. There was no more delaying – we were all in! The smooth rocks were sharp and cut my feet – but it did not crush the sensation of swimming in a natural waterfall in any way. Although I have to say, those with water-shoes did far better in negotiating the shallow waters than I did!
We arrived at the next waterfall following a trek through the jungle along a narrow path. Pants, hiking boots and shirts back on for those like myself to whom mosquitoes and other bitey bugs seem to have a deep attraction to. The jungle canopy shaded our path, and the sound…well it was the sound of jungle silence. These are not the kind of paths that are regularly maintained! Our lunch spot was once again along a river, and the waterfall there was wide, falling into a large, deep and open pool before pushing towards the river in sharp, fast flowing rapids. Needless to say the attempt by the husband and myself to ride these rapids resulted in cut knees and feet!
Deeper into the jungle we trekked, beyond another little sandy beach area, back into the trees, before we arrived at the third falls. As I entered the clearing, I felt as if I had entered one of my childhood fantasies.
The waterfall was high and the water fell from the rocks in a sheet and down into a pool like a lake. There was no time to waste, I pulled off my soggy shoes and clothes and this time, swam towards the middle of the pool and didn’t stop until the spray of the falls was hitting my face. It was a feeling of something completely organic, completely natural to gaze up at the falling water from beneath, and another thing again to dip one’s head into the spray. After a time, I was joined by other members of the group and encouraged by the husband, decided to swim through the falls to the other side. I took a breath, and propelled myself forward, the water pounding my head, arms and back – not sharp like the rocks as I had feared, but rather more similar to the water as it falls from our new shower-head.
And I was on the other side, behind the waterfall, behind this curtain of water and in front of the rocks, the rock roof hanging over like a cave.
In my fantasies as a child, I never wanted to leave that waterfall. I didn’t want to leave it in real time either.
After the trek back through the jungle, we again drifted along the beach, the sun starting to fall, its harshness starting to dispel. The beach with its black diamonds glinting in the afternoon sun, seemed endless, not unlike some of those beaches you see back in Oz – which really is only a much bigger island – where the sand goes on forever and you may not seeing a living soul for miles.
Such places do exist.