Halfway through my diet soda with ice I remembered that ice is water. How had I overlooked this simple fact?
I had only been in Venezuela for less than a day and I had already broken the one rule that nearly every travel brochure had warned against: visitors should not drink the tap water. Ice is made with tap water. Avoid tap water and ice.
Now to be fair to myself, the last few hours had been a complete culture shock. Starting with the unfriendly welcome at the airport as we exited the plane directly onto the tarmac to a truck full of angry sounding, heavily armed men, shouting in a language that I could only vaguely understand, thanks to taking Spanish classes in high school.
More on all that in another post…
Several days (and iced sodas later), and I’d literally thrown all water born critter caution to the wind.
At this point, I’m basically munching on ice, drinking water right out of the faucet, and eating freshly washed fruit, salads and ceviche. In other words, I’m no longer worried about getting sick.
So when we spent the day exploring the beautiful Gran Sabana region of south-eastern Venezuela, I had no reason NOT to go swimming in the water…
What’s the worst that could’ve happened?
Ya’know besides abdominal cramping, bloating, fever, nauseousness, and a few other unpleasant things that I won’t mention.
Thankfully, none of that did happen.
I was lucky in that I was able to truly enjoy the moment and not suffer the terrible fate of the poor folks that the water safety brochures talked about. In fact, no one from our group got sick.
But we did experience some pretty damn good food and got to enjoy the feeling of dunking our heads into the cool water of an amazingly beautiful waterfall in a part of the world that not too many people get to go to. That was pretty awesome.
Salto Kamá Falls is located on the outskirts of Canaima National Park, not too far from Brazil and Guyana. The park is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to the tepuis (flat topped mountains) that date back to a time when South America and Africa were part of a super-continent!
How cool is that?
Road access to the park is pretty limited, but thankfully we had a great local guide to help us navigate. Thanks to his adventurous spirit and fierce navigational skills we were able to enjoy an incredible view of the Falls, as well as a nice swim in the pools below!
Background info: During my first year of college in Orlando, Florida, I signed up for a tropical ecology class. I was one of five people, from that class, selected to participate in a trip to Venezuela, in order to document plants and wildlife in the area.