The sound, like distant thunder, vibrated in my ears. Constant. Dull. Roaring. The thin brown trail, a muddy groove tread into the lush greenery of the mountain side slipped underfoot, sucked at the bottom of my shoes, and cascaded rocks below. The view varied, sometimes obscured by banana trees and dried corn stalks, others, open to the sky and surging water ahead.

the strenuous climbing was broken, intermittently by awe. Clambering through muddy pools of water, slipping and narrowly missing a mud bath, I found myself in a cave carved out behind my first waterfall. The sound bounced off the gray walls and water crashed on the enormous rocks below, the wild splash drenching me from head to foot.

It was like prayer. The sound deafening but peaceful, the water cold but inviting. I wanted to sit. To bask. Instead I found myself trying to capture it in photos that do not reveal the beauty behind the frothing sheets of water careening down from one hundred meters above.

The guide ushered me on, two more waterfalls on the eight kilometer circuit. And so I climbed.

From the bottom of that fall to the top, I found myself peeking over the edge where the water was rippled glass before whipping itself into a frenzied freefall that moments before I watched from a completely different perspective.

Two stoic children sat on a nearby rock and stared blankly as I took photos of the water, of the panoramic view of the surrounding flatness interrupted only by the cluster of towering mountains, one of which I was perched on.

The second fall fell heavy but he fickle mist descended lightly until a shifting wind doused me completely.

The third, and largest, fall required more exertion. Trailing through the community nestled into the side of the mountain, stopping to examine coffee and sorghum drying under a blazing sun on plastic sheets and to greet, “how are you?” “I’m fine, how are you?” confused pause, “hello” from children bold enough to do more than wave.

I crossed the meandering tarred road, men drinking local brew, a woman napping in the shade. And after scrambling over rocks with narrow paths between them found myself at a ladder, perfectly vertical against a sheer wall of earth several meters down. The carpenter was full of whimsy, some of the rungs so close together my shoes grazed the previous rung, sometimes they were at jaunty angles made less jaunty given the distance to the ground, while still others forced my foot to dangle in trusted anticipation that another rung would appear.

Safely to the bottom and the trail wound steeply through slanted farmland, banana trees, sweet potatoes, and corn oblivious to the precarious perch their roots maintained. The sound of liquid thunder intensified, sprays of water created mud so thick it swallowed my shoe momentarily, inviting mud and rocks beneath my heel and at my toes. The spray misted lightly up settling like dew on the twisting vines of my hair.

I stopped. Looking up at the highest of the three falls in awe. But the guide continued, wending his way to a narrow strip of soggy earth that jutted decisively toward the plummeting water. Here the water was a strong hand pushing me wetly back. Waves of water washed over me continuously preventing me from stealing even a furtive glance of the majesty before me.

A few more moments of trying, I spluttered and spit and made my way back to the relative calm and dryness of my previous perch. Soaked completely, I laughed and began the slow ascent.

The guide carried my pack most of the way up. I stopped periodically to remove muddy stones cemented into the soles of me feet and to catch my balance and breath. we emerged onto that same winding tar road that snaked through sipi. The sky blue, the sun warming, the breeze drying. Our first fall lay directly ahead, seemingly silent and contained in the distance.

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