Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Waterfall~

 The mission compound, Maforga, sits on roughly 900 hectares of land which includes more than a few hills and valleys, massive trees, and a river. There is even a waterfall.

During the dry season (meaning now), the river is shallow but clear; during the wet season (Nov-March), it rages and will sometimes knock out the stone bridge on the short access road.

When I first go here, I was told about the waterfall... but not which path I needed to take to get to it. So this week, I decided it was time I found out. I figured it would be dryer than usual due to the current drought, but I was hopeful nevertheless.

A short-term American missionary named Natalie joined me on this adventure. And together we strapped on our shoes... and marched off on this new adventure.

The hike out there took quite some time, but the late afternoon haze offered a easy relief from the heat. The sandy road we followed narrowed to a one-man path in short order, leaving us wondering as to whether or not we were headed in the right direction.

Perhaps we were lost. Perhaps we were on the wrong path.

We discussed it briefly then realized we didn’t care and walked on, happily discussing politics and missions work as we marched.

Beneath each step, brittle stocks of yellowed straw lined the paths and poked through my flip-flops. To our backs a wall of eucalyptus held back the smokey blasts of winter wind, allowing us to walk on undisturbed.

Clumps of dirt, broken up like a scab, lay interspersed with browned weeds and parched shrubs. Hills blended into valleys before us --each equally blighted and crusted with drought. A few large trees haphazardly dotted the slopes, but many of them were unnaturally yellowed on one side. Only when we approached could we see the reason why.

Forest fires which had recently raged about their roots had sent waves of heat toward their branches. The leaves which were fortunate enough not to burn, baked to a dark yellow but tenaciously refused to fall from their limbs.

However as the hilltop we walked sloped down toward the valley, the shrubs turned greener and more dense. By the time we reached the valley floor, the ground was moist and the leaves lush.

I could hear the river long before I could see it.

The rushing currents sounded like applause in a distant stadium. As we passed a dry tributary to the river, stepping over dry moss coated stones in the process, I could feel the river as well. Its moist breath caressed my cheek. Its slick fingers curled my hair.

Water. Lovely water!

As I approached the river, I had to crouch down to keep from hitting my head on the low hanging branches, but I also had to watch my step. The terrain quickly turned rocky... and wet.

Let me just say... hopping from one slime-covered boulder to the next was not easy in flip-flops, but it was fun.

There was a felled tree which bridged the waterfalls’ rocky ravine, its wide trunk still sported all its bark, and a few of its roots were still grounded. I could not help but wonder if someone helped this tree to fall, or if it were just a happy coincidence.

I could not resist rushing out to the middle for a picture. Easily two and a half feet in diameter, it didn’t seem to notice my presence. But once out there, vertigo set in and my mind quickly reminded me that I was no longer a kid.

Worse yet, the 25 foot drop to the stoney river bed would most likely cause more than one broken bone! Normally, my brain does not worry about silly little things like heights. So I figured it was the Lord screaming at me instead, and quickly obeyed.

We had come too late in the day to dilly-dally; we could not afford to get lost on our way back. So my friend and I stayed only long enough to get some nice pictures, then we slowly hiked back.

All in all, it was a lovely hike.

Since it is still so green and lush in the midst of a drought... I cannot help but wonder what it must look like in the rainy season.