As of July 5, Terra and I have officially been dating for two years. In a way, our entire trip to Colombia is an anniversary celebration. A pretty kick ass one, if I do say so myself.
On the morning of July 5, we took a local bus from San Gil to the Juan Curi Waterfall and hiked 20 minutes to the top. To say that I was a sweaty mess when we arrived is an understatement. All photos have been deleted. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful, and extends even higher than the portion that most tourists (that don’t rappel down) get to see. After waiting for 30 minutes, and watching other scared folks step over the edge and lower themselves down the 240’ face, we were ready.
They strapped us into harnesses, attached a rope to a carabeener in the front of each, and gave a 2-minute safety overview in Spanish (which Terra does not speak). I turned to him and said, “Meh, it’ll be fine.” We stepped over the ledge and began the descent. The keys to success are to gently cup the rope above your head with your left hand, create slack by pulling upwards on the rope below you with your right hand, and keep your legs as straight as possible against the rock in front of you. At a few points along the way, the water blasted me in the face, making it impossible to look up and shout instructions at Terra who wasn’t quite as comfortable with the process. It took us about 15-minutes to reach the bottom and I wished we could head up to the top and do it over and over again. Instead, we took a dip in the pool at the base, where dozens of local Colombians had gathered to celebrate Sunday.
Now, I’m used to folks in Latin America staring at me; my reddish hair and fair skin definitely sticks out in a crowd. That attention factor goes through the roof when I’m wearing a bathing suit. At the bottom of the waterfall, I was surrounded by beautiful, busty Colombian women with caramel skin who appeared confused or perhaps blinded by my alabaster complexion. We took a few photos and the camera identified my stomach as an area that was “blown out” on the histogram. While I’ve had 31 years to accept my ghostly fate, it is in moments like these where I can’t help but wish that my mother had married a man with a bit more melanin in his skin. Fun side story: When I was 11-years-old my mother said to me, “Alison, you need to marry a man with color in his skin or your kids will be fu**ed like you and your brother.” She has a point.
Thinking back on our anniversary activity, I know that there is a good metaphor here, although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Going over the ledge together? Finding love and lowering our expectations? Tie a knot and hang on? I’m not sure, but let me know if you can think of something good.
Want to have a similar experience? Here are the important details:
Booking – Don’t book your tour ahead of time, simply make your way to Juan Curi via the local bus, and let the girl at the front office know that you’d like to go rappelling. We paid a booking fee at our hostel, while others simply showed up and saved ~$4 each.
Transportation – At the local bus station, ask for a minibus to “las cascadas” (the waterfalls). The Cotrasangil company runs a bus every 20 minutes and it costs 4,000 pesos each way ($1.50, 1 hour). On the return, you simply wait at the entrance for a bus going the opposite direction.
What to wear and bring – Tennis shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet along with a bathing suit for a dip at the bottom. And as always, sunscreen and water.