Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Seeing the Gocta Waterfalls with the French (Part 1/2)

The top cascade of Gocta Falls,
the third largest waterfall in the world.
Shot by Paul Cook on a iPhone 6
Dimitri and Solan, a French couple, and I, were at the top cascade of the third largest waterfall in the world; when we approached it, we could feel the blasts of air and water and mist spray our face. It took three hours to get there from the nearest village.

The night before, over wine, we all agreed to go to the falls together. At the hostel, after offering the two wine, we talked about how I went to France and how I had a bad time in Paris. I was only 19 then, and I didn't speak French or try. Hence, the people weren't so friendly to me.

I also told them that I lectured in Aix en Provence, which is in the South of France on international law. Even though they told me that the people there aren't so open to people, I told them how wonderful and lovely they were to me. I also told them I ate the best appetizers in my life in Aix en Provence; it was foie gras ravioli.

I would go out on the streets and say: "Seva," and the people on the streets of the South of France would shout back: "Seva! Seva!"

Dimitri and Solan were from Paris. They told me no one is nice there, though Dimitri came originally from Normandy, where so many Americans shed their blood to win the war. They too both quit their jobs and went to South America.

Since I bought the wine, they cooked for me. It was an excellent and delicious French meal. I remember when the onions grilled against the oil and made the kitchen smell beautiful. They also fried in their vegetables, cream cheese, and sweet potatoes. It was very good. I wish I remembered what we talked about, and I do remember it was small talk. But we drank so much wine and laughed so much, I can't really recall.

And we talked so much, that at 10:50PM, a guy from the next room came and said, "Hey, keep it down." We were thinking, what the Hell, it's early. He needs to get a life.

Dimitri thought he was German.

So, we went upstairs and started talking. I told them I wanted to go to Gocta, which is made of two waterfalls into one. But if we did a tour that we would only see the top part of the falls. To see both parts of the cascade, we needed to do the tour on our own. The guidebook Lonely Planet was wrong about how to get there too. (I'll write how to get there at the end of the next post as an attachment.) Dimitri made us shake on it to agree to go.

Then, from downstairs, around 11:00PM, a lady says in a thick accent: "Hey, guys keep it down." Solan said, "She must be German too."

We were upset. I mean a hostel is supposed to be a social place, and it wasn't 03:00AM. Solan said that she must have been the girlfriend of the guy - and they had bad sex. So they were blaming us for it.

But we listened to her, and went back to our rooms. We agreed to meet each other at 07:30AM, and I'd make coffee for them then.

I was in a shared room with four beds. One girl was already asleep. I took the other bed.

* * *

Then at around 06:00AM, a tall guy with huge pegs in his ear arrived and woke me.

Oh no, I thought. I have a long hike, and this guy comes and wakes me up. 

He was wearing a black hat. He came and chose the bed next to me.

He says, "Lo siento," I'm sorry in Spanish.

Oh, lo-siento-yourself, I thought, but said nothing.

He removed his black hat and revealed his really blonde hair. He also had ice blue eyes. He was really tall. He looked like a party European.

I glanced at him and already knew, Oh, this one's going to be trouble. Big trouble.

My vitamins were at the nightstand between us. (I left our area a mess, because I lost my sandals and removed all my items everywhere to find them.) He asked, "Are you sick?" with a European accent. I thought he was German, but couldn't tell for sure whether he was Scandinavian or not.

"No," I said. "They're just vitamins." (I didn't tell him I take it to keep me looking young too.)

Already, I'm annoyed he woke me up. I need my sleep, I thought.

I tried to go back to sleep, but remained in a half awake state until 07:45AM.

Already, we're starting late, I thought.

I woke up tired. I went to the kitchen. I started brewing coffee.

I haven't seen the French I thought. That's good. I hope they sleep in to.

At the table, three German girls are talking only in German. I pretended not to listen. I pretended not to understand.

And truth is, I don't know what they're talking about fully, but I picked up bits and pieces here and there. One girl says she's from Memmingham, in the Allgaue in Bavaria, Germany. (I took a flight out of there once to Cinque Terra, Italy.. But like I said, I pretend that I don't know anything about what they're talking about.) After eating, they leave.

The coffee is ready. Then a girl with black hair, who was in my room, points to a coffee can and asks in a very cute way, "Can we use this coffee?" By her accent, I already know she's Italian. And she speaks with a very cute accent.

"I don't know. But I don't think so. I think it's the hostel coffee." I answer.

I had a flashback. And in this memory, when I was in Turin, Italy, Ludo kept asking me, "Paul, would you like another coffee?" She had the same accent, and it reminded me of Ludo's Italian accent and kindness.

So, I tell her: "But I have some coffee. Would you like some?"

"I wouldn't want to bother you." She says. But of course, she knows she wants some.

"It won't be a bother. It's not the best coffee. But I brew it as best as I can."

"I can give you some cheese if you like. The cheese isn't very good in Peru. But I found some very good cheese here."

"Sure, I'll have some cheese. What's your name by the way?"

"It's Eliza. And yours?"

"Paul. Give me a second. Let me pour you a cup."

I pour her a cup. I pour me a cup. I drink it. It's as good as this coffee can be. She opens the fridge and removes the cheese. She gives me some. I take some. I like it.

But then, Dimitri appears. I tell him, "Sorry, I woke up late. Some blonde guy came into our room early and woke me. I'm late in making the coffee. I have to make more coffee though. I gave the Italian some."

He doesn't look too happy. Perhaps because we started late. Perhaps because Eliza took her coffee.

Eliza says, "Sorry, I took your coffee." She still speaks English like she's singing and it sounds so cute.

After the second pot of coffee brews, Dimitri was about to talk with me over coffee. But two men and a woman in their 50's to their 60's came and the staff took his seat. They paid for bed and breakfast; so, they were treated like royalty.

Dimitri had to take a seat elsewhere. He really didn't look too happy.

The three were sitting right in front of me, and I knew they wanted to talk to me. But I didn't care to talk to them. It was an awkward situation.

Jose - the control-freak-owner of the hostel, calls to Eliza and says she needs to go on her tour. I ask where she's going. She tells me to Kuelap, the name of some ruins.

Finally, after enough loud silence, the three of them start talking to me. I notice though, they didn't want to talk to Dimitri and that wasn't good.

All three of them looked like your typical middle age white person. None were fat. One was balding and had glasses. The lady looked like your typical soccer mom. And the other guy looked like an aging German.

I found out both of the men were cardiologists. The woman was a physiotherapist. The bald man was from London. The Swiss guy and the woman now lived in Canada. They told me about their failed research. I told them about a medical research project I worked on years ago.

I was about to leave the table, when the Swiss guy asked what I was working on. I corrected him and said, "Worked on. I finished the project."

I sat back down. I told them what I believe I learned in immunology.

They felt uncomfortable, because they were doctors and didn't know that much about the subject I was talking about.

Why do they even ask then, I thought. They should have never asked.

At that point Solan comes down. I ask her if she wants some coffee. Dimitri still looks unhappy. I give Solan a cup. She doesn't look that happy either.

I feel guilty. I didn't really want to give away Dimitri's cup of coffee or have a talk with these older people. And I'm tired from the German guy who had to come into our room.

But in some ways, I felt like I had to out of some Western duty to be civilized and well-mannered. I needed to remedy the situation.

So after Solan drank her coffee, I said, "Alright - let's start making our way to the waterfalls."

I told the three, "Sorry, but I promised them we were going to the waterfalls. And already we're late."

As I was washing the pot of coffee, the owner of the hostel said, "Hey, don't use too much water." I thought he was such a control freak; I was only washing the pot. He said, "We have to pay for every drop." Then he told me in Spanish, "Drop by drop, all the water will be gone."

I knew he was a control freak when I first saw him. I told the French. At this point, they didn't believe me. In any event, I wrote a bad review for him. Trip Advisor Review of Chachapoyas Backpackers.

That was how the morning started on our journey to Gocta. 

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