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African Journal #7: The Jewel of Guaro Falls

Posted Feb 19 2009 6:31pm

April 12, 2008

Life Is Best Viewed on a Mountaintop

Watermelons, pasta, mangoes, pineapple and cornflakes made up for our breakfast portion of the day. The volunteers gathered their hiking bags, swimming suits, and plenty of water bottles and sunscreen protection. We set off for our day at Guaro Falls, an hour east of Minna where we would spend the day basking in the sun and swimming in the river at the bottom of the falls. However, I was warned by Aine that the area had a very steep descent and was concerned that I would not be able to make it to the bottom safely due to my terrible balance, vision and sore shoulder. In case it imposed too much of a challenge for me, Zach was willing to stay behind and enjoy the afternoon under a hut overlooking the falls.

When we got to the Guaro Falls Reserve, we met up with Julia, a British volunteer from Jos and took several scenic photos from the top of the incredibly beautiful waterfalls. We set off for the hill, and we all were pleased to see that the reserve park had added concrete steps leading to the pebble beach at the bottom, however, the steps were not smooth and had a lot of cracks and missing pieces. Zach and I looked at each other and proposed that we do this challenge – he would help me every step of the way, pun intended! My heart was racing like mad, but the euphoria was a great motivator and down we went! It was a little hard on the eyes, I had to focus on finding a flat surface so I could place my foot on and tread slowly. My cane helped a lot, it served as a balancing tool. After maybe 20 minutes, Zach and I joined the other volunteers who gave us a high five! We were able to join them for a swim.

The water was so refreshingly cool in contrast to the humid weather. The current from the waterfall almost swept me away but Zach hurried and grabbed my hand before it was too late – lesson learned, I started holding on to rocks underneath for support. More volunteers came – Liz, her husband, Jane and her boyfriend and several of Liz’s international neighbours. Two of them were Canadians, from Toronto!

We endured another challenging trip alongside the riverbank through huge rocks and crevices but I was determined to make it to the foot of the falls where Liz’s friends would cook us a delicious feast over open fire. I could smell chicken cooking and saw a feast of mango crumble, French bread, sausages, pasta salads… it was heaven. We drank Star beer, basked in the sun some more, did some more swimming and Zach got stung by something – a bee?

Later on in the afternoon, people started leaving to go back to Minna or Abuja. Zach wasn’t feeling right in the stomach and suffered the stinky consequences, and I started feeling very faint. I had to lie down, with my head spinning and buckets of sweat rolling down my head. It was such an uncomfortable experience for both of us and it brought up some concerns, how would we be able to make it all the way down the shore again then up the hill again? I was so sure I would fall and hurt myself and Zach was feeling weak as well. But we shot that “let’s do it” look again, and we decided to take it slowly. Andrew, Jane’s boyfriend, volunteered to take my bag and be the cameraman. He followed us, took awesome pictures and even made some videos of Zach guiding me up the jagged and rugged steps. It’s all recorded!

The trip up the hill was one of the most trying experiences of my life. I was weak and lightheaded and had to stop occasionally for a breath of air and drink some water. But within an hour, we were finally making our way to the very top… and when we did, it was such a LIBERATING feeling….. I gave a loud Rocky-style shout at the top of the hills facing the stunning view of the forested area surrounding the falls. I’m DEAF BLIND and I did this!!!!!!! Zach was incredible through this whole experience, he was assuring me of every turn, every step, every rock…. He empowered me to do something I never thought I would succeed at – for that I’m forever grateful.

The trip ended with a beautiful, brisk drive facing the sunset to the West when we drove back to Minna with Julia, Andrew, Jane and Zach.

The rest of the volunteers were thrilled to see us again, and the most fun night of our volunteer experience started… it was a raunchy, naughty, hilarious and exciting evening with many themes associated with Passion – all thanks to our wildly funny Irish vol-pal, Helen. I think I should keep most of the details to myself and other vols as children could read this blog… so sorry for the censorship!

Off to Abuja tomorrow. And one more day until dear Zach departs the country of Unity, Naija.

Be sure to challenge yourself. I mean, really surrender to your fears and climb the highest mountain – it’s such a great feeling, something that everyone should at least feel before their lives wind down to nothing but ashes.

I am living life to its fullest.

Tactile love,
Coco

April 12, 2008

Life Is Best Viewed on a Mountaintop

Watermelons, pasta, mangoes, pineapple and cornflakes made up for our breakfast portion of the day. The volunteers gathered their hiking bags, swimming suits, and plenty of water bottles and sunscreen protection. We set off for our day at Guaro Falls, an hour east of Minna where we would spend the day basking in the sun and swimming in the river at the bottom of the falls. However, I was warned by Aine that the area had a very steep descent and was concerned that I would not be able to make it to the bottom safely due to my terrible balance, vision and sore shoulder. In case it imposed too much of a challenge for me, Zach was willing to stay behind and enjoy the afternoon under a hut overlooking the falls.

When we got to the Guaro Falls Reserve, we met up with Julia, a British volunteer from Jos and took several scenic photos from the top of the incredibly beautiful waterfalls. We set off for the hill, and we all were pleased to see that the reserve park had added concrete steps leading to the pebble beach at the bottom, however, the steps were not smooth and had a lot of cracks and missing pieces. Zach and I looked at each other and proposed that we do this challenge – he would help me every step of the way, pun intended! My heart was racing like mad, but the euphoria was a great motivator and down we went! It was a little hard on the eyes, I had to focus on finding a flat surface so I could place my foot on and tread slowly. My cane helped a lot, it served as a balancing tool. After maybe 20 minutes, Zach and I joined the other volunteers who gave us a high five! We were able to join them for a swim.

The water was so refreshingly cool in contrast to the humid weather. The current from the waterfall almost swept me away but Zach hurried and grabbed my hand before it was too late – lesson learned, I started holding on to rocks underneath for support. More volunteers came – Liz, her husband, Jane and her boyfriend and several of Liz’s international neighbours. Two of them were Canadians, from Toronto!

We endured another challenging trip alongside the riverbank through huge rocks and crevices but I was determined to make it to the foot of the falls where Liz’s friends would cook us a delicious feast over open fire. I could smell chicken cooking and saw a feast of mango crumble, French bread, sausages, pasta salads… it was heaven. We drank Star beer, basked in the sun some more, did some more swimming and Zach got stung by something – a bee?

Later on in the afternoon, people started leaving to go back to Minna or Abuja. Zach wasn’t feeling right in the stomach and suffered the stinky consequences, and I started feeling very faint. I had to lie down, with my head spinning and buckets of sweat rolling down my head. It was such an uncomfortable experience for both of us and it brought up some concerns, how would we be able to make it all the way down the shore again then up the hill again? I was so sure I would fall and hurt myself and Zach was feeling weak as well. But we shot that “let’s do it” look again, and we decided to take it slowly. Andrew, Jane’s boyfriend, volunteered to take my bag and be the cameraman. He followed us, took awesome pictures and even made some videos of Zach guiding me up the jagged and rugged steps. It’s all recorded!

The trip up the hill was one of the most trying experiences of my life. I was weak and lightheaded and had to stop occasionally for a breath of air and drink some water. But within an hour, we were finally making our way to the very top… and when we did, it was such a LIBERATING feeling….. I gave a loud Rocky-style shout at the top of the hills facing the stunning view of the forested area surrounding the falls. I’m DEAF BLIND and I did this!!!!!!! Zach was incredible through this whole experience, he was assuring me of every turn, every step, every rock…. He empowered me to do something I never thought I would succeed at – for that I’m forever grateful.

The trip ended with a beautiful, brisk drive facing the sunset to the West when we drove back to Minna with Julia, Andrew, Jane and Zach.

The rest of the volunteers were thrilled to see us again, and the most fun night of our volunteer experience started… it was a raunchy, naughty, hilarious and exciting evening with many themes associated with Passion – all thanks to our wildly funny Irish vol-pal, Helen. I think I should keep most of the details to myself and other vols as children could read this blog… so sorry for the censorship!

Off to Abuja tomorrow. And one more day until dear Zach departs the country of Unity, Naija.

Be sure to challenge yourself. I mean, really surrender to your fears and climb the highest mountain – it’s such a great feeling, something that everyone should at least feel before their lives wind down to nothing but ashes.

I am living life to its fullest.

Tactile love,
Coco

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