Really Putting My Foot in It

Colombia – December 2013

My favorite coffee beans come from Colombia and we’re now exploring one of the coffee growing regions of the country. After a tour of a coffee plantation, we’re given the option of hiking to a nearby waterfall. We’re a small group of five—my wife and myself joined by three single women, all the same age. My wife is more interested in playing with the dogs in the village, so I head off with the women and a young man serving as our guide, who I am soon convinced is half goat.

It’s a simple hike to the waterfall, but there is some rock climbing involved to reach it near the end. I take a moment to catch my breath and take in the waterfall. I have to admit I have an issue with waterfalls, or more precisely how they are photographed. While it seems you can never find a landscape photo that wasn’t shot at sunrise or sunset, it also seems you can never find a photo of a waterfall that isn’t shot without motion blur. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful photos, just unoriginal and uninspired. While I’m thinking this, one of the women asks me how to get that motion blur you always see in waterfall photos, so I give her a quick lesson on shutter speed but also let her know about the need for a tripod and neutral density filters.

Time at the waterfall over, we’re given the choice of taking the simple hike back to town, or a more scenic route. We opt for the scenic route, not realizing it would involve several steep inclines and crossing a bamboo bridge. I’m the last to cross the bridge, which requires a little climbing to get up to. Seems sturdy and not too high. First step on is fine, second step breaks through the bamboo and I’m brought to my knees with one foot dangling beneath the bridge. Our guide, half goat, hops up quickly to help me up. After making sure I’m okay, he tells me that you need to angle your feet when crossing a bamboo bridge. Would have been nice to have known a minute ago.

Having left my mark on the country, or at least one of its bridges, we now begin the inclines and I’m exhausted by the time we make the final approach back to civilization. I’m starting to think about what I’ll buy to drink when we arrive when I realize that I’d left my wallet with my wife, figuring I wouldn’t need it. One of the women on our tour takes pity on me and loans me enough to buy some orange juice at the first makeshift shop we encounter. When I see my wife again, I let her know about my bridge encounter and she lets me know about all the dogs she’s petted.

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