The road wound on for what seemed like an eternity and as each passing pick-up sped by it kicked up a new layer of dust to coat me with. I threw my thumb up a few times, but no one seemed to be in the mood to pick up a dusty blonde foreign hitchhiker. No smiles either. I was about ready to give up. But, I reasoned that I couldn’t possibly have gone the wrong way- there was only one road to stick to. I had done that, but I had also walked for far more than “media hora.” Maybe I’d passed the waterfall. Or maybe I had been another victim of blanket guesstimation; every wayward traveller’s thorn in the side. In the black hole of time that Central America could be, “media hora” could just as easily be an hour, two, or three. It all depended on the creativity of the direction-giver.
I finally arrived at a farming ranch with a bar/restaurant adjoining. I could hear, but not see the waterfall from where I stood at the bar paying the $1.25 entry fee to the park. I followed a tree-root ridden path down an embankment to a rock-lined series of connected natural swimming pools. I followed a wooden board across the first pool to a steep makeshift stairwell paralleling the falls. At the top, I waded knee-deep up the river until I couldn’t go on any farther. By this time I’d worked up a sweat and decided to return to the deep and cool swimming pools.
Though my thoughts remained behind in Costa Rica, my adopted country of three and a half years, I could do little else than dive to an unknown bottom here. I was completely alone in the wilderness of the El Salvadoran countryside, yet inching forward toward my native land.
Standing at the side of the pool just before I left, regret sat in my hand in the form of 8 American pennies. I tossed each one into the water in the hopes of truly letting go of each one in the months ahead.