We just ended a six week stretch of teams, and we have so much to tell everyone!
During week four of consecutive teams, we were beginning to feel run down and wore out. Several of our ministry assistants said we needed to do something fun together, to “get outside the guesthouse.” The only problem was neither of us had any idea what we could do. We could climb to the top of the Cathedral in the blazing sun. We could drive to the grocery store and walk around in the air-conditioning. Or maybe go to the pool, where the water is so green you can’t see yourself below the chest. (Yes, it’s very scary).
We were growing tired of debating the same few options when Randy, our construction coordinator, gave us a special invitation. He asked if we would like to join him and some of his friends to hike to a waterfall. According to him, it was only about a twenty minute drive and a ten minute hike. It was an easy decision for us. We both love hiking and we love waterfalls. Just like that, it was decided what we would be doing on our next free day!
The day before our big adventure, we spent the majority of the day getting all of our weekend chores done so we would be completely free on Saturday. The day was full of making desserts, spraying for mosquitos, and making everyone’s favorite chocolate chip banana bread! When Saturday finally arrived, we got up early, had breakfast, and anxiously awaited the arrival of Randy and his buddies so we could all drive together.
Our drive to the waterfall began as we headed outside of San Juan toward the mountains. We passed through several small neighborhoods (or barrios) as the twenty minute drive became more like a forty-five minute drive. Without warning, Randy finally said, “Pull over, we’re here”!
We hopped out of the truck and climbed through a barbed wire fence. (Nothing scary about that at all). We began hiking down a little trail that abruptly ended a few times but then always reappeared. Luckily, Randy knew exactly where we were the entire time. It was absolutely beautiful! We walked through a valley and through the mountains, over bridges and through streams. There were some points in the hike where neither one of us felt confident in our abilities. We were constantly holding onto each other as we stumbled through the water, which got waist deep at some points!
We finally reached our destination. The hike had taken us about forty-five minutes instead of ten minutes. (In Randy’s defense, he said he loses track of time when he is hiking.) Anyway, everything about this area was majestic and beautiful! It was a giant rock mass that had slowly eroded away from the water. We jumped into the cold water almost immediately. Nothing can compare to the feeling of cold mountain water on a 90 degree day. We continued to venture deeper and deeper into the cave until we finally saw what Randy referred to as “The Waterfall. It was slightly smaller than what we expected but were excited nonetheless. Then without thinking, I heard him jokingly ask us and another ministry assistant who came with us, Tyler, if we wanted to climb the waterfall. This was probably one of the most intimidating things to look at as the water continuously poured over the rocks.
Randy grabbed a snorkel mask and dove into the water, completely disappearing. Suddenly, he popped up right underneath the raging waterfall. Neither of us could understand a word he was saying because the splashing water was too loud. We both decided to go for it, not knowing for sure what the outcome would be. It was incredibly loud and the current was intense. To put it into perspective, using the snorkel mask only allowed you to see about ten feet in front of you, and then it was nothing but waves of bubbles. Trying to fight the current was terrifying and left us in a panic. Despite the battle, we both eventually got right underneath the waterfall, where we couldn’t see or hear anything.
We had made it this far and were not about to give up. Even with the water raining down on us, we began the death-defying climb up the waterfall. Thankfully, Randy had brought a rope along with him. Unbeknownst to us, climbing the waterfall had been his plan all along. We tried and fell several times. Finally, I (Jonathan) made it to the top first and was able to secure the rope for everyone else. One by one, everyone reached the top. Even though she wanted to give up, Alissa fought hard and conquered her fear, making it to the top beside me. We had so much adrenaline rushing through our bodies we were visibly shaking. At the same time, we were so overwhelmed we were able to conquer all our initial fear and doubt. We had climbed a waterfall! There is no way to imagine what we found at the top. We found ourselves standing in a small cove which faced an even bigger waterfall! The sun shone through the rocks, and everything melted away. It was so serene and surreal!
It was somewhat short lived because once you go up….well you must certainly have to come back down. Climbing down the waterfall was not an option. Randy hurled himself off the top of the waterfall into the stream below. Again, we faced the current, the height, and all the rocks that surrounded us. One by one, we all followed Randy’s lead. Neither of our mothers would have approved of this.
We swam out of the cave, and decided to rest in the sun to warm up our arms and legs now covered in goosebumps. Once the adrenaline wore off, we realized just how tired and beat up we actually were. It was a very exhausting yet incredible experience for us both. As we were relaxing and recovering, enjoying the beauty that was surrounding us, I could almost hear God saying “This is just one of the amazing things I’ve wanted you see and experience together.” From seeing more of the beautiful island, to spending time with friends, to conquering fears and learning how to depend on each other, it was an unforgettable day. We are thankful we have such a great friend, Randy, who showed us one of his favorite places, and a God who sculpted this amazing place with his hands.