We walked in a line. Aja’s beautiful aunt was in front of me and the tall guy with the hat directly behind. Sweat beads dripped down the biceps of the men holding guns. I turned on my video camera happy to have something documenting our journey. We walked over slippery rocks and through narrow passageways. When the man behind me reached to clear away branches I jumped back, gasped and almost dropped my camera. He looked confused and hurt. I lowered my eyes passing under his arm.
“Do you hear that?” He asked.
“Ahhhh” I exclaimed at the sound of trickling water.
Again the guy cleared a path revealing a small waterfall about five feet high. It traveled gently over small rocks while a singular beam of sunlight shone on it. I stopped overcome by its beauty. The man laughed and said, “Come, come there is more.” The next waterfall was twice the size of the first with gushing water. We took photos around it. Again the man insisted, “There is more.” We traveled another mile down a mud hill into a large opening. Before us was a waterfall at least the length of a football field. The water gushed down from the top, flowed along many rock paths and gathered at the bottom cascading into a clear pool of water.
“Wow” said the man in an exaggerated American accent. His eyes bulged as he said this and the contrast of his white pupils against his rich chocolate skin made them appear twice as big. He flashed a cheesy TV host smile and made a big swooping arm gesture as if to unveil the waterfall. I laughed in such a way that my entire body loosened and fear melted away.
“Come. Come” He said. He ran to the edge of a large rock, peeled off his shirt and flipped into the water. I cringed hoping it was deep enough. He popped up smiling.
“Wow” I said emulating the way he previously said the word.
“Now it’s your turn.”
Monte and Aja were next to me marveling at the waterfall and the guy’s tricks.
“Do you want to go in?” Aja asked.
“God yes.” I replied. “But I don’t have a suit.”
“I got a sports bra” Monte shrugged.
“That should work. Let me ask my mom if it’s okay.”
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we seized. Monte, Aja and I jumped off the rock, swam in the waters, walked under the waterfall and dove through it. In less than 12 hours I experienced an extreme range of emotions from fatal fear to exuberant joy.
I walked back to the car in a daze. Drips of water fell from my hair and down my back continuously refreshing me as the sun blazed through the trees. The man with the hat walked by my side speaking to me about his family and life, asking questions about mine. At one point he reached for my hand. I almost retracted but his palm was comforting. We continued to talk and laugh squeezing each others hand periodically and swinging our arms between us. At the car the man asked for my mailing address.
Three months later I received a phone call from my dad. “Who the hell is Adebowale and why is he offering goats for your hand in marriage?” He asked. I met so many people I couldn’t answer definitively. But I like to think it was the guy with the hat who unveiled the waterfall lagoon and that hand holding is that powerful.
A Warrior Princess