PHOTO BY XENA GOLDMAN
Traveling with bad knees and bum hips that you can feel rubbing as you walk is nothing short of a major bummer, especially for someone who likes doing everything without help. Especially for someone IN HER 20s. However, when faced with the decision of stubbornly doing the 1 hour hike out of town to a small body of water for swimming or taking a cheap motorcycle or ¨mototaxi¨ ride, I gave in to the ¨adult¨ decision and shelled out the couple of dollars.
When we got to the entrance, the drivers parked and waited for us to leave, drinking their tinto (black, watery coffee) and chatting with the other drivers. We crossed a narrow wooden bridge and found a woman with a small, coal grill set up, selling arepas (thick, corn pancake) with chorizo. We ordered two and scarfed down the greasy delicacy as we watched the stray dogs rifle through a woven, potato sack used for trash.
Whether it was the cooler-than-usual climate or just late in the day, the pozo was surprisingly not so crowded. Wilson, who had gone unprepared and without a swimsuit, was more than willing to help me into the icy pond and watch as my face did an impression of Jim Carrey´s character; transforming when putting on The Mask. After the initial shock, I stood there with the water at thigh-height; feeling the cold alleviating my knees; listening to the flowing cascade and the birds; watching as a big-bellied grandpa snuck up on his adolescent granddaughter to attack her with splashes.
I turned back and looked at Wilson. He was sitting on a nearby rock, looking off at the waterfall. Though we had slept well the night before in the tent, he looked tired. Sad. I couldn´t blame him: before long he would be returning to Bogotá, I´d follow a week later, and then I´d be getting ready to move back to the United States. I had proposed the trip as a final hurrah for us before my departure, but going on vacation doesn´t make you forget what awaits back home. Feelings, like sadness, cannot just be taken off like socks when the climate changes. Joint pain doesn´t take a day off when you decide you want to climb that mountain. Wilson had been egging me on to dunk my head under, to just go for it, but I just couldn´t bear the cold. I wanted to—I really did—so for even just a moment he could be distracted; so he could see that even when I disappear, I am still here.