I try to write a journal every day as an attempt to document every fleeting thought. But this weekend was so jam-packed, I was only able to write about it on Sunday night.
June 5th 7:11 pm
I have so much to write about this weekend. On Friday, I completely forgot to write about Volta Lake. I was sucked into Gone Girl, so I didn’t even notice our climb into the mountains. We got down and were surrounded by rolling hills and majestic giants. The dam is huge. It’s impressive in size and functionality. Dark clouds approached and the cold wind was new against my skin after being used to scorching heat for the last two and a half weeks. Volta Lake is the largest man-made lake in Africa and it supplies electricity to three countries. There are six total turbines, but only three of them are turning because of the low water level.
The wind seemed to come from the lake. It blew the hair out of my face and compelled me to breathe for what seemed like the first time in a long time. It compelled me to take in the beauty of the mountains, the rain, the water.
It was breath-taking.
For a few minutes, the group hushed to just stare out over the water. And then there were raindrops. Yelps and quick running movements. People rolling on jackets and pulling out umbrellas. The guide offered Joshua and me the umbrella, but I wasn’t up for it. I wanted to feel the rain, thick, plump drops exploding against my skin on contact. Cold, refreshing. Beautiful. The smell of the rain. The feeling of your clothes sticking to your body. And, of course, I burst into song:
“Feel the rain on your skin,
No one else can feel it for you,
Only you can let it in.
No one else, no one else,
Can speak the words on your lips.
Treat yourself with words unspoken,
Live your life with eyes wide open!
Today is where your book begins.
The rest is still unwritten.”
Lol, William called me annoying.
We piled into the van, soaked to the bone. We arrived at the Sky Plus Hotel, where the restaurant and pool look over the town of Ho and a random mountain on the plain horizon. It was gorgeous.
The next morning, I completely failed to wake up for the sunrise. I was upset, but I brushed it off and said I could catch it the next morning. We had a late start for our two-hour journey to the Wli Agumatsu Waterfall. We finally got there and had to walk about 45 minutes through the forest to reach the waterfall itself.
As stupid as I am, I wore flip-flops to walk through the forest. I have bruises on my third little toes now (ring toes?). Also, I don’t remember who, but someone told me not to expect too much when I got there, so I had that mentality as I walked. I walked with camera in hand, trailing behind everyone else to capture the angles of light and trees and water. It was a gorgeous forest. As we walked, our conversations were eaten by the sounds of the river, so much of the walk was spent in introspective thinking. Thoughts from every aspect of life consumed me while I trotted through the forest, staring at the ground so I wouldn’t trip and occasionally glancing up to find a picture-perfect scene.
I was in the process of making some serious predictions for Gone Girl, when we finally reached the waterfall.
I had expected nothing more than a sturdy stream falling from an opening in the mountain. But as we approached, it took me a few seconds to comprehend the magnitude of what I was seeing. Holy shit. The mountain seemed to have caved in, creating a three-sided cliff which wrapped around you. Holy shit, it was massive.
The farther you looked up, the farther the cliff went up, reaching and successfully touching the sky. And from the middle, water roared as it plummeted into a very large pool.
After recovering from my shock, I took a few pictures and then undressed to my bathing suit. The rocks were sharp and they hurt as I walked. They hurt under the water too. The water was cold, but fresh and clean. I stumbled over large, pointy rocks, wading deeper and deeper, following the rest of my group. After a certain depth, the sharp rocks turned to fine sand, which was a relief. We got very close to the waterfall so that each droplet stung against my skin. It hurt, but it a very good way. And if there’s a particularly rough group of droplets, you just duck under water and it soothes the pain.
There was a random guy who was swimming around as if water wasn’t falling in full force from the sky. He went under the waterfall and was just chilling on the rocks behind it. But it wasn’t like the movies where there’s a cove and you can chill in safety. The water was abusing the rocks. Still, Madi said she wanted to touch them. The random guy held out his hand and helped Madi to the rocks. From there, we all went. Madi pulled me across.
Blinded by water. Whenever I tried to open my eyes, they were closed shut, and the brief moments I could see something, everything was white.
I felt the water sting against my face and shoulders, pulling at my bathing suit, but never coming down directly enough to pose a threat. The rocks were jagged, but not sharp, their edges rounded by the water. I felt the algae, slimy against my fingers.
I decided to turn so that the water falling from above could massage my back. I opened my eyes, taking in everything the gap in the water would let me. The algae grew everywhere, making the hardness of the rocks take on a softer touch. And in areas where the water would leave untouched for a little too long, tiny green plants grew in tufts. I reached over and touched them. I smiled at the thought that I would have cringed if I had touched those plants by accident. But since I encountered them via my own will, they were friends. It was absolutely incredible. One of the best experiences of my life. We took a few more pictures before redressing and heading back.
Afterwards, we traveled another long journey to the monkey sanctuary at Tafi Atome. We weren’t there very long, but we didn’t need to be. The guide distributed (really warm) bananas and showed us how to hold them out to a tree so that the monkeys would climb onto your arms.
Most people tried it. Some of the monkeys would come down and rip the banana from the person’s hand and just scurry back up. I gripped the banana tightly, as instructed. When the monkey came down the tree, it tried snatching the banana from me, but it couldn’t, so it hopped on my arm and ripped off half the fruit. It sat there and ate as I was standing there amazed. It was extremely light with soft, furry paws that gripped me. The monkey went for the second half of the banana and someone shouted that I should let the monkey go since the monkey had been on me the longest out of anyone. I told them that I was barely holding it anymore. I let my wrist go slack and all that was left was half a banana peel while the monkey was still perched on my arm. The monkey finally finished feasting and leaped off the scurry back up the tree. Marlene grabbed an awesome Snapchat video and so did William. A bunch of other people took great pictures (like Dr. Bowles, whose picture I eventually posted on Instagram). We were there for a few more minutes, but the sun was setting and the mosquitoes were coming out. I didn’t realize at the time, but I probably got around twenty bites.
An amazing day overall.
The next morning I awoke at 5:30 to watch the sunrise. Bess came down with me. We sat on chairs at the poolside and watched the sun come up over the mountains. I took a video of it on my phone. When we got down their, the sky already seemed lit up. But the sun wasn’t in sight. We sat and waited. I recognized the tell-tale pink wisps of clouds as an indication for the location of the sun.
5:42 am, exactly, the red bulb peeped out from behind a very far mountain that matched the color of the sky. I watched in silence, transfixed.
Ahana means first ray of sun. And so I sat, transfixed by namesake.
And as I packed my things, the sun had left an imprint on my eyelids, and all I could think was that this weekend was one to remember forever.