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The commercialization of incredible beauty

We’d finished the Sunday service in the Chiapas village and eaten the cow that they’d butchered and cooked up for the whole village to eat. I remembered a spectacular series of waterfalls that I’d stumbled across 27 years ago as I was driving to Honduras. It was a sunny day – perfect to go back…
By Seth Barnes

We’d finished the Sunday service in the Chiapas village and eaten the cow that
they’d butchered and cooked up for the whole village to eat. I remembered a spectacular series of
waterfalls that I’d stumbled across 27 years ago as I was driving to Honduras. It was a sunny day – perfect to go back and
visit them again.

The place is called Aguas Azules “blue waters,” and when I
turned off the main highway to check them out in 1980, I had no idea what I
would find at the end of the badly rutted, obscure dirt road. The road stopped at a sight so arresting, I
couldn’t believe it.

The waters were indeed blue, and they tumbled through the
jungle in a series of steps that separated and rejoined in fantastic ways. How great it was to discover something that
rivals Victoria Falls in splendor, yet was
hidden off the beaten track, uncelebrated in the travel guidebooks. There was one or two other families there at
the time, but that was it.

me and talia waterfalls

When our group of 60 pulled down the nice paved road a few
days ago, it might as well have been Niagara
Falls. Row
after row of tourist shops and restaurants lined the walkways taking you to the
top of the falls. Hundreds of people
splashed in the waters, plied the shops, and enjoyed the beauty.

On the one hand, when you’re given a gift that is free and
wonderful, you want to share it with others (that’s my daughter Talia in the pic).
The privilege of swimming in the falls is special – one that should be
shared with young lovers and families on a weekend holiday.

But the intervening years have shown me that Aguas Azules,
like many pristine places in the world that I knew in my youth, will never be
the same.

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