At first light we drove 20 miles into the jungle to a Jaguar Preserve. Our Creole beach friends told us there was an amazing waterfall there on a hike called Tiger Fern. We stumbled across a tourist family with a guide minutes into our hike. They were frozen, cameras posed because they had just seen a full grown adult Jaguar! We missed it, by maybe five minutes. I blame Fred for taking so long at the car.
Fred and I hiked up to the highest elevation on the trail, overlooking the beautiful mountain landscape. Hiking deeper into the jungle we started climbing down super steep hill sides until we heard water. We went around a corner and nestled in between the rock and vegetation was a gorgeous waterfall, with a clear blue pool and red clay walls. There were a bunch of tourists and their guilds hanging out at the fall so we decided to hike onward. Just over a little hill (that was pretty difficult to climb) we found another –even bigger waterfall!
As usual Fred wanted to continue off trail and explore more of the area. So we used vines of vegetation to scale a rock face down into a valley and jumped from rock to rock down the run off of the waterfalls. I fell a couple times and banged up my knees but it was totally worth it because we found this tiny little pool on the top of a cliff. There was a full canopy of green overhead with the sun squeezing in where it could. The pool was a dark teal in the middle and purplely red on the sides from the clay. There weren’t any foot prints or humane remints of any kind but insect life was buzzing all around with flowers in bloom hanging on the rock faces. It was most definitely the most beautiful place imaginable –true fitting, we didn’t bring the camera. Regardless, it would be hard to forget a sacred place like that, ‘for our eyes only, only here and now –just for us’ Fred said.
We went back up to the first waterfall and met these super eccentric, kind of ghetto fabulous African American women. Upon seeing us they knew right away that it was our painted car in the parking lot and they were super enthusiastic about our whole “thing” and we talked for an hour or so by the waterfall. The next couple hours were spent dunking, splashing, jumping off rocks, and teasing each other in the water.
We climbed the steep hill back to the trail when Fred realized he forgot his shoes and ran back down. A group of family tourists passed me waiting for him and the father sternly said to me, “you must be with Underarmor down there, huh?!” Cracked me up! Yes, Fred was hiking and swimming in his underwear in front of all those families but seriously, their lucky we were wearing clothes at all.
We became extremely fascinated by these giants ants on our hike back to the car. The ants have their own highways; worn paths through the packed earth that they follow up huge trees. Then they cut little bits of leaves and carry them all the way back to the ant hill (which are almost two feet tall) we followed their whole highway system up the trees and to the ant hill at eye level watching every tiny move. A couple of passing tourists gave each other amusing, sarcastic looks and chuckled.
Whatever, we loved that land more than they could ever imagine. I mean you go to an amazing place, pay a bunch of money, yet you don’t lose yourself in it? What kind of experience is that? All you leave with is evidence you were physically there; lame!
Back at the car we made pasta and sauce over our little propane stove on the ground while everyone left in hotel shuttles. During dinner we saw this strange animals our walking around very close to us. We deemed it a squirrel-fox, our little Belize mascot.
The jungle is an amazing place because it’s always buzzing, moving, growing –life all around that is never silent or still but oddly peaceful. One of the most peaceful places we’ve been to, amongst all the flowers, old trees, and insect metropolises, inner quiet and serenity is simple. I guess the environment demands ultimate chill in order for one to absorb the life force all around. The harmony of the ecosystem that’s been doing its thing for thousands of years just kind of slipped right into our hearts somewhere between swimming in the falls and smelling strange red flowers we’ll probably never know the name of.