Boquete & The Things That Can't Be Done in High Heels
Admit it, a rugged outdoors-woman is far from the first thing that comes to mind when you think of me. It's okay, my feelings aren't hurt by that. I did, however, commit myself to the mantra of doing epic sh*t in 2016. Thus, when I was packing up my high heels for storage and I came across a long-neglected pair of Reeboks that had become interwoven in the cobwebs underneath my bed, I packed them in my suitcase.
Four months later, deep in the forest surrounding the picturesque town of Boquete, Panama, my Reeboks sank into the mud as I ran to keep up with the tour group from Explore Ya. We were hiking to the three waterfalls via a breathtaking three-hour trail in a remote forest within the Falling Waters Nature Reserve. The trail retraces the steps of the Pre-Columbus indigenous communities that ventured deep into the forest to pan for gold in the river and extracted the red clay to make pottery. I kept pausing to stare at the unforgiving beauty of the scenery around me. Up ahead, was a canvas of trees so tall and thick that a path through them was scarcely visible; down below, lush mountains painted every conceivable shade of green soared upwards towards the morning light. The smell of damp earth, nectar, and morning dew tinkled my nose as we began our ascent*.
The hike up to the first waterfall was the most difficult for me; the mountain path grew wide were the soil was still damp with morning dew and more narrow in rockier places. There were points were it was barely visible to me at all. Even as we heard the sounds of the Quebrada La Mina stream and far-off songs of the rainbow-colored quetzal birds guiding our steps, the waterfall itself remained hidden behind a canopy of trees right up to the moment we arrived at its banks. Here, I sat down wearily to catch my breath as a gentle mist sprayed down on us from atop the trees.
We continued winding through the trail dotted with exotic plants, beautiful flowers, and the gnarled roots of ancient trees. Along the way, Oscar, our tour guide, stopped to explain the uses of certain plants. He told us what was edible, medicinal, poisonous, etc along the way. As I leaned against a tree to catch my breath, I looked at the odd fern that had wrapped itself around the tree and asked Oscar if it was poisonous. “Only if you get it in your eye,” he replied reassuringly. I quickly jerked away from that tree!
Smaller than the first, the next waterfall was so clear that you could count the pebbles at the bottom as the mid-morning sun danced off their shadows. Here, I dipped a toe into the water before retreating from the sudden shock of the cold. Instead, I took a moment to take in the view high atop the mountains before we continued up a narrow trail deeper into a forest that became even wilder and untamed with every step .
By the time we arrived at the second waterfall, I was hot and sweaty; my pants and shoes stained with mud. It wasn’t long before I peeled off my clothes, closed my eyes, and jumped into the water in the bikini that I had on underneath my clothes (pro-tip: always have a bikini on hand.
The water was ice cold.
No, let me be more specific: the water was so frigid that it robbed my body of all its heat almost immediately. When the shock wore off, I swam out and shivered on the rocks underneath the afternoon sun, only to do it again the moment someone dared me to jump back in.
The last waterfall was the most mesmerizing. It cascaded over the rocks in a silent white stream. I climbed the slippery rocks until I stood beneath its canopy, watching in awe as its powerful cascades disappeared into a gentle stream below. I think I laughed to myself at that moment, realizing I could never experience these moments in 4 inch heels.
Read Boquete Part 2 here.
ICYMI: Check out my latest piece in Huffington Post: Self-Care and Leaving the Movement
*A special thank you to Flonase the G.O.A.T for allowing me to have this experience without allergies.
Also appreciative of my Samsung S5 for stepping up to capture this experience following the untimely death of my Nikon (pour out some liquor and put its picture on a t-shirt if you're from South Florida)