Tuesday, 13 June 2017

What this picture doesn't show you...

What this picture doesn't show you...

Is that we had a flat tire on our way here, the car I drove was falling apart, unable to be insured and I would bet could not be safety certified in any country on the planet.

Was that the fruit bats flew in swarms over our heads, the sounds of the jungle filling the valley we occupied.

Is that I paid more than 5 times the entrance fees that my friends did, getting plucked from the crowd as if a beacon of light was reflecting from my alabaster complexion.

Is the group of drummers having a dance party on the beach, singing, drumming and enjoying the sunshine.

Is how we chose to go to the waterfall on Easter Monday which is known here as picnic day, the busiest day of the year. 

Is how brown the water was, but we didn’t seem to mind at the time. We swam in the murky water with everyone else because it was just so refreshing in the heat of the day.

Is the giant pic-nic my friends brought to enjoy together taking 2 full coolers tracking through the forest to the falls. 

Was that I was assaulted under that waterfall. As we waded into the water, groups young men in just their underwear were grouped together, they offered to help us over the rocks, one grabbing my hand to lead me. As he guided me towards the curtain of water two firm hands gripped my upper thighs, I shrieked “heh.” Before I knew it someone had pressed themselves against my backside, as I fell to get away a hand grabbed my top, another my bottoms. I was choking back water, being held under water by the swarm of men trying to grab a piece of my bathing suit or of me. I screamed, I kicked; the water fell loudly at my back. Eventually a friend intervened and helped me regain my feet, swatting the men away like flies and flies that he was used to seeing. 

Is the other two white people I saw at the water. A couple, who stuck together and had a paid guide to the falls and had a drastically different experience than mine own. 

Are the hawkers who were out in full force on this holiday Monday, selling whatever you could desire. Goat, chicken and beef pieces grilling on bbq’s, yam fries sizzled in pans of hot oil and cool beers floated in tubs of melting ice. 

Is that I went back in the water later, to the shallow-end with my group who looked after each other. This picture doesn’t show you the other girl I saw being assaulted, the men swarmed around her and grabbed at her, more aggressively than they had with me. I struggled through the water shouting at the men but by the time I reached her she was completely naked. I threw punches until they cleared off her and her brother retrieved her top from the water to cover her. 

That if you bribed the right policemen, I could have stayed after they had cleared everyone out at nightfall and enjoy a private falls experience.

Is how our car broke down again at the edge of town, another 1.5 hours away from home. We had to spend the night in a hotel while the mechanic welded our water tank back to the car.

What this picture doesn't show you is how a simple trip to a waterfall 40 km from home could take 2 days, be both beautiful and terrifying and an experience never to forget.  But at the end of the day it is up to you to look beyond a photo to see the full picture.