Las Cascadas

One of the highlights of my time in Ecuador has been the multitude and
proximity of waterfalls. This fact still often surprises me given that I
live in the Sierra, in the country’s Imbabura Province, named for just one
of the several massive volcanoes always in the horizon, since my community
is nestled amid in the valleys formed by them and neighboring mountains.
This dramatic landscape, over 8000 feet in the clouds, but only a few hours
shy of the Equator’s fiery belt, creates the perfect environment for both
snow-capped peaks and lush waterfalls of icy currents. These waterfalls are
often hidden in pockets of dense forest which seemingly transport you to
another world where suddenly the thick canopy overhead makes it so you
cannot see the mountains for maybe the first time since coming to Ecuador.
This change is shocking– it’s disorienting– but it’s breathtaking, it’s…

You keep walking, eventually hearing the rush of water growing stronger and
stronger, but the forest is too heavy so you can’t see what you know is
there: you only hear it. The sound becomes louder until it’s overwhelming,
matching the tangled chaos of trees and vines and plants surrounding you.
But just then, the canopy breaks open and finally you see it. Well, first
you see the sky again, the mountains, and the volcanoes. And… you see the

The waterfall! Mighty in its height and majestic in its unrelenting
downpour. Its beauty leaves you awestruck and you think “all of this
created from a couple of atoms colliding in space?” You know this place is
used for indigenous spiritual ceremonies. “Maybe it is divinely inspired
after all…” But that’s a different story.

Your attention returns as you look back at the waterfall, taking in the
deep blues and greens and splashing white of the almost illusory mirage
before your eyes, and you notice a difference color moving: people. They’re
swimming. “How could this get any better?” The thousands of gallons of
water crashing down on the rocks below summons a mist which alights on your
skin, now more uncovered since you don’t want your clothes to get wet too,
and you begin to realize how cold it will be, but then:

You jump.

Suddenly you’re not only seeing the waterfall– you’re feeling it– you’re
part of it. You remember from science class that humans are something like
70% water and Hell, you might as well be 70% waterfall right about now. You
look up from the pool, and again you see the sky, and the mountains, and
the volcanoes, and of course, the waterfall. You remind yourself where you
are and just how unbelievably grateful you are to be in Ecuador.

It should come as no surprise that these waterfalls inspire me as much as
they do, and the primary way I’ve channeled this inspiration is through my
art. I drew this piece “La Cascada de Peguche,” from photos I took during
one of my many visits to this very site, which I can joyously say is only a
few miles from my host family’s house. Enjoy.