ANGEL FALLS: Our World's Tallest Waterfall
Met a guia (guide) while trekking Roraima, Frank. Frank hooked me up with a trip to Angel Falls. He warned me-- it isn't like Roraima. It's more tourist. Truth. & worth it. Where I write now is at a posada he co-owns in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela's capitol.
And isn't that one of the most redeeming aspects of travel? That even if you don't plan everything out, everything tends to pan out if you're open to the possibility that everything happens for a reason.
Do I dare write this in Spanish? Leave out the no-hablo-espanol americanos? I think not... but I could! I am practicing Spanish a ton & I ain't so bad :).
SO>>> Angel Falls, Salto Angel. Quite a trip. Not *quite so touristy as originally feared.
Woke up around 6am and ate breakfast at the posada: eggs, coffee, watermelon, banana, canteloupe, ham, cheese, bread. Got a taxi to the airport in a car that would usually be parked in a junk yard back home. Had a voucher in hand to give to the park ranger in Canaima, but other than that, there wasn't anything that could be classified as a boarding pass. Two of the guys, on the tarmac to the 16 seater plane, were asked for their ticket. They said, "We don't have one." The pilot said, "Okay." Business protocol, at least for the Angel Falls excursions.
Fell asleep on the plane. Yes, uno mas vez, yo siempre tengo sueno.
The airport in Canaima is more of a landing strip with a large parking lot for the tiny planes. Got off the plane, walked 10m to the entry gate where the ticket voucher was handed over to the park ranger. The terminal is a wood, open-air type of market with locally made jewelry, random postcards, t-shirts with graphics of animals that the sales people can't name, insect repellent, and some food. And benches, so we wait and Toni, our guia, comes over and walks us about five minutes to the encampamiento.
I'm with three guys, Toni asks if one room with four beds is okay, I say uhhh no, how about two rooms? He says ohhh *wink, wink and shows us a room with one bed, one double bed, the matrimonial room. Uhh, Toni I think you think something that ain't it. So eventually have a room with three beds, one for me and one for Gregori (and one for our shit), who trekked Roraima with me.
We arrive, drop our stuff, eat a quick lunch, drink coffee, head to the beach, I swim to the waterfalls. Except swimming is more difficult than at Playa Colorada, because the beach is a shore at a lake that is consistently less than four feet deep. But I do it! Return and get into a canoe, head to the waterfalls around the area (as in the foto from the plane). It was amazing because I got to walk behind a waterfall. Yes behind. Quite an experience, especially because before and after I saw what it looks like from the other side. Freaky deaky man.
We met some people from France who will end up at Burning Man soon. We all ventured out of the encampamiento and frolicked in the rain. Stumbled upon the type of Venezuelan bar that my feet have been searching for. Open air, building made of wood and the beautiful roof, tables in the sand by the shore, lights on strings, and music- reggaeton of course, but salsa, meringue, oh bachata (!) too! After it closed, we made our way through some random jungle and then back onto the wood, elevated pathway. Hung out at a shop with people from the camp, people from Merida, from Canaima, young and old, and of course the park rangers. Was one of my favorite nights so far.
Next morning was Angel morning. And for this, I refer to my journal, especially because I am sleeeeeepy.
At the hammocks after a long canoe ride, an hour hiking through the rainforest, a moment fearing that the clouds would not dissipate, an hour peering through spitting rain and condensation from Angel Falls, a trail run back down passing those in my group, into the twilight, yelled at to stop, witness to a snake having its head bashed in, tourists swarming with flashlights and camera, an improper burial with too many onlookers, a boat ride back in the dark, dinner and more questions of me, the solo female traveler, and now open ears listening to quiet camp murmur.
Salto Angel was quite a sight.
The clouds, we thought, are clouds.
Condensation, the fog, those are clouds too.
The rain evaporating as the water tumbles downward.
Or are the clouds created by Angel Falls?
At times, mist moves in circles,
Relative humidity would be speechless too
Unable to reason through the thunderous performance.
From the top appear, as white torpedoes- spirits diving off the edge.
Their white limbs unfurl and disappear,
Their sweat tickles my face,
Their courage compels me to dance
Here on this slippery rock
I am once again in awe.
When the wind picked up the mist, the water saturated my entire being. I wish my dad could have shared the experience with me.
The canoe was going upriver, against the current. At times, it looked and felt like white water rafting. But in a canoe. When I got scared, in part it was for me, but mostly for my camera. I laughed when I thought about my mom's reaction if she found herself in that canoe. I fell asleep in the canoe, Toni thought it was funny because he was in back and would sometimes yell for the passengers to lean one way or the other and I never moved. Why not? Because I was K.Oed.
27 julio *again
Indio belief, mas o menos *translated: if you frighten away a snake and the same snake returns then it has a taste on its tongue and is ready to strike. ie it's dangerous.
On the canoe ride home, we stopped at a waterfall to bathe. Bathe as in seriously stand under the water and have it pelt you until you laugh and choke on water. It was great. On the way to Salto Angel I sat in the front of the canoe. It just worked out that way (well, I had to pee and ran into the woods and when I came back everyone was in the canoe and I sat in front). Despite what the Frenchies told us, it's the front that doesn't get soaked. On the way back, sat in the front too. All the wiser, wore my raincoat. Literally sounded like a ride at the water park, all the folks behind me shrieking as water hit the hull and skated past me and onto them.
Got back to the camp and walked to the airport for a delicious and cold, hamburger. The airplane that took me back to Ciudad Bolivar was a retro five-seater. The pilot had his window open. The seats folded back to let the passengers in. The door was like the back doors of a van. Very rattley. Pretty awesome, I thought it was funny especially when there was lightning super close to us and one of the passengers freaked out, I had to convince him his drama was over the top. Actually did feel a bit scared at some point, but then saw the rainbow encircling us. I heard that rainbows are circles, but we can't see that from the ground. Rainbow- Arco Iris. The turbulence was fun, the good kind like a rollercoaster. Fell asleep.
Got a ride back to the posada in a 1976 Fairlane that the driver has had for twenty/ thirty some years. It reminded me of my papa's old cars... the door handle, the window levers, the general seat upholstery and accents. Got here, have my own room: a matrimony room (eg double bed) all to myself! Win. Ate at a fish restaurant that had no fish. Walked the boardwalk next to the Orinoco at sunset, time for bed now.