And getting caught in the rain
It started to rain. And we’re not just talking about a light spatter here but a full on torrential rainstorm. Almost monsoonal. Biblical. Not exactly unexpected when hiking through the middle of a tropical jungle in Honduras during rainy season. Usually, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but when you’ve got tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of camera equipment and hardly any protection you start to worry a bit. Or a lot. In fact, let’s be honest; you start shitting yourself.
The day started very differently in bright sunshine at 8am. The three of us were staying at the D&D Brewery in Lago de Yojoa, a small microbrewery in the middle of Honduras, the only one of its kind in the country.
The night before, over a few glasses of apricot beer and pale ale, a bunch of us sat around a fire chatting about what to do while in Lago de Yojoa. That’s when someone in the group mentioned the Three Waterfalls hike.
With beautiful beaches and dark dense rainforests, Honduras is great for hiking, and as the name suggests, the Three Waterfalls hike takes in some of the spectacular scenery seen in the surrounding area. Obviously we had to find this out for ourselves, and that saw us standing in the sunshine at 8am the next day.
To get to the start of the trail, we all jumped into the back of a pick-up truck and climbed up the winding mountains, the view getting more and more beautiful the higher we went. After about 45 minutes, we were dropped off by the side of the road with our guide, Walter, and we started our hike.
As it was still early in the morning (trust me, 8am is early for backpackers), the only thing on our minds was breakfast and coffee. Food first, hike second.
We passed through a tiny village, nothing more than a cluster of shacks and houses, when Walter brought us to one in particular where we had pineapple-filled empanadas and a cup of the black stuff.
Feeling finally awake, we started hiking to the first waterfall through the lush jungle that has come to define this region of Honduras.
Working our way through the trees, we all heard the waterfall before we saw it; the background noise, almost like static, sounded faint at first and became louder and louder with each passing step.
Then, practically out of nowhere, the first waterfall appeared from behind the trees, water cascading down at a furious rate in a place you perhaps wouldn’t expect to see it.
While at the second waterfall, a short walk away from the first, Walter tantalised us by saying we could go for a swim here or wait until the third waterfall where the views were even better; in the end it didn’t matter.
From the second waterfall to the third, we walked through a small coffee plantation before coming across a couple of houses, nothing more than shacks with corrugated iron roofs, where we had another cup of the black stuff to refuel us.
We left the village with a procession of children all calling us on, smiling and waving as we walked by, their natural curiosity making us all laugh.
It wasn’t long before we were back in the jungle, and despite not being able to see the sky through the canopy, we could feel the atmosphere change, closing in around us. It was strange, but all of a sudden not a single sound could be heard, almost like we walked into a vacuum.
It started with a couple of lazy, heavy drops and it turned into a torrential downpour within seconds, water finding its way between the trees making everything and everyone wet.
Brian and I quickly took for the limited cover we could find as we put away all our equipment, hoping our bags would hold out and that nothing would get wet.
I’m not going to lie, and despite Brian’s protestations otherwise, I thought there was no way we were going to make it out of there without our equipment getting waterlogged and wrecked.
That started a quick and nervous scramble to get back to the shelter of our pick-up truck, and to me each waterdrop that patted the plastic of my backpack sounded like a judge’s gavel announcing a fateful sentence.
As soon as Brian and I got out of the rain we checked all of our equipment; luckily, nothing was too wet and nothing was damaged. Somehow, our equipment survived, though I would say Brian’s F-Stop bag had a lot to do with it (who knew it was partially waterproof!)
Once Brian and I managed to put our bags away (in my case, out of sight, out of mind), we could enjoy lunch at the third and final waterfall, a sense of elation that we made it through the jungle in one piece (more for our equipment than us; I don’t think we were in any mortal danger from a little bit of rain).
Obviously we didn’t need to go for a swim; we were already soaked through to the skin, but somehow the rain seemed make the experience that little bit more exciting.
After all, you can’t go on the Three Waterfalls hike without getting a little wet.