Count 45 minutes from the ‘parking lot’ and you’ll arrive at the entrance to the majestic Mother Falls. Thanks to my tsinelas (slippers) I managed to slip, slide and half-swim in the unpredictable depths of the stream flowing from the falls.
We split into two groups. SZ and I couldn’t help but take photos so we lagged behind. One kuya (thanks to my wonderful brain, I manage to forget his name) stayed with us. Wwo and XX were with another kuya.
What can I say? The water was so cold I had cramps in my toenails. I hate trekking with equipment with me, especially if they’re unprotected. I only had one amazing experience with equipment trekking Mt Pinatubo but that’s another story altogether.
If you need assistance, the guides (our drivers became our tour guides, and they’re not yet certified but they’re very entertaining and accommodating) were very knowledgeable about the trek. We almost never got lost. In any way. Really.
Because we were behind most of the time, I never saw the incident when a man fell 5 meters from the steel tube path into the shallow water, facedown.
For a few stunned seconds, Wwo and XX thought he was dead. I’m not being morbid or anything but I’ve never seen a dead guy floating on a stream before so I sort of felt bad I didn’t see it. But then again, thank God nothing bad happened.
On our way to the falls, we met a lot of tourists coming from the opposite direction. Some were happy. Some looked tired. Some looked confused as if they were bewitched going there and they had no idea where they were.
I was honestly looking for foreigners. I was gauging how popular Mother Falls was. I saw maybe 4 Europeans, 2 Americans and 100 Koreans or Chinese. I can never tell. They were just there. Walking. Along with us, behind us, towards us, they’re there. Filling the gaps and spaces. Filling the dank air with something.
I can’t say I got tired, I did more tiring things, but the 6-hour bus ride sort of made me want to sit down, get my shorts wet in the unbelievably cold water and Just. Sit. Still. Under a rock or maybe on top of a tree. Either way, I wanted to rest.
Before we reach Mother Falls, there are a couple of smaller falls along the way. And right before the mother of them all, there’s a bigger sister to them all. We took some photos of this. While we were at it, a family came from the direction of the mother falls.
“It’s so amazing out there. You won’t believe how beautiful it is!” they said as if promoting for a toothpaste commercial with the entire family nodding and agreeing with the smiley mom and the friendly dad.
Wwo and XX were ahead, as usual, as when we arrived at the falls, we realised how improbable it was to take a shot.
The camera had no water protection and it was a big risk to take a photo when only a few seconds of stepping into the cement ground before the falls – this is where everybody gathers to stare at the falls – we were soaking wet. But SZ wanted the shot. Of course she wanted the shot. And so, we made sure we do it the right way.
Only I don’t have the photo right now. It’s with her. She took it. Fearless SZ.
After risking losing a camera, we all dove into the water. Bad idea. It was freezing. It was the coldest water I’ve swum in in my entire life. I reached the landing where XX was waiting for all of us, and the water just gave Wwo cramps. And me. And SZ (I think) and when we were near the falls, we didn’t know what else to do. The current was too much and the falls was too powerful to even dare going under it.
So we stared at it. Gawked at it. We’re not sure but it was something like that.
“How about we go there?” Wwo pointed we move to the other side just to rest. We did.
It had small leeches which sort of freaked me out. I’ve never seen leeches before. So I was silently paranoid about it for the next ten minutes.
Knowing we have reached a point of the trip, we planned about our next stop. The kuyas were very supportive so they suggested things. We were tired and wet and cold, confused and hungry so we all decided to have a small tour of Baler. We went back, took our bags (and I am thankful for the random new older people manning the hut when we got back) and rode back to Baler.
Our next stop – Ermita Hill.