We ran into the rest of the group the next morning, Upala isn’t a very big town. We set our destination as some waterfalls nearby, and set off on our route of unconventional transport yet again, walking as we saw them board a bus and roll away.
This time, though, it was a race. We knew it. They knew it.
Things were looking pretty dreary for a bit on our end. For one, we weren’t entirely sure where these mystical waterfalls were, and for another, it seemed like no one was out and about on rainy days — or at least, the ones who were didn’t want soggy hitch-hikers soaking their seats.
We eventually made it beyond the turn off point up the mountain. So we had to hitch back, and then forth again. Not everyone knew where these azul waterfalls were, so they’d take us to the turn off of where they were driving, cool with the company, and we’d not really have any clue how far off we were.
The rain stopped, and we made it off the main road. The azul waterfalls were up this mountain, we were told, we just had to follow the road. And so we began.
The roads had been fairly flat before, but after a few kilometers the slope of this one seemed to increase with every step. We walked up, and up. And up.
Vehicles were scarce on this road, and when a pick-up truck did happen to drive by, it did not stop. We reached a point that hurt just looking at it, looking straight ahead would mean looking at the road’s incline in front of your face – that’s how steep it was. And finally, someone stopped for us. We got in the back of the truck. These guys were booking it, too.
At one of the steepest parts, we see a group of people off to the left of us — it’s the rest ofour group! Jeff starts running up the mountain after the pick-up truck. So close! We ride onwards.
Not to endorse schadenfreude, but Mike and I were pleased with our timing for this one. If we had taken the bus directly to the bottom of the mountain, we would still be clawing upward, rather than cruising up to the finish.
We made it, we won, we wondered through the rainforest. We zigzagged bridges of pure blue water, and hiked up to the azul cascada. Natural minerals cause the blue color of the water.
The other group finally made it, too, and we relaxed in the natural hot springs. I jumped from the cool water to the warm, and reverse, to get the full spectrum of experience from this magical river. Mmm, rejuvenating.