Traveling Honduras: Joy, Beauty, and Terror Among Waterfalls

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  • Published on December 12, 2022
  • Last Updated December 22, 2022
  • In Guest Writers

Renée Cheréz describes traveling to Honduras, her waterfall rappelling experience, and the gifts of nature the rainforest had to offer.

At every turn, Honduras reminds you of its aliveness. Not only did I find this to be true by the greens of the jungle, the quick and delightful sightings of multicolored parrots and the meditative sounds of cascading waterfalls, but also as I hung off the side of a cliff masking as a waterfall and frozen in icy terror.

Admittedly, when I learned waterfall rappelling was part of the media trip itinerary, I was giddy. So giddy that for one reason or another, it was the one experience I didn’t perform any extensive research on, which in hindsight, could be seen as an act of self-preservation — or ignorance, for that matter!

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Renée along with her tour guides and media trip group, October 2022. Courtesy of Las Cascadas Lodge

La Ceiba, a port city in the northern part of the country, is the gateway to thrilling adventure activities centered around the protected eco-gems Pico Bonito National Park and Rio Cangrejal. It’s also home to Las Cascadas Lodge, a boutique eco resort oasis teeming with a variety of wildlife, flowers and plants, including one of my favorites — the sweet-and-spicy smelling red ginger plant, which goes by different names depending on where they’re found in the world.

After an extensive tutorial on physical form and rope usage, it was time to ascend into a Honduran jungle with our first stop, which was just behind the lodge, being a 35-foot waterfall that served as a practice run. Child-like feelings of anxious-excitement emerged as I made my way down, careful to plant my feet on visible rocks while navigating the very loud and refreshing waters rushing over my body, all the while keeping an ear out for my guide’s instructions.

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Renée Cheréz on the bridge entrance of Pico Bonito National Park. La Ceiba, Honduras. October 2022. Courtesy of Renée Cheréz

Our hike continued into the vibrant rainforest, taking us up 600 jagged steps that led us to suspension bridges, through low-hanging vines and branches and around slippery moss. I loved trying the sweetness delivered from cacao trees on the trail, especially because I’m one of those few humans who doesn’t enjoy chocolate. My descent of the 85-foot waterfall was less graceful than my practice run. I hung on for dear life as the water pounded my helmet and filled my shoes, seemingly colder than that of the last waterfall. Once down, my ropes were detached, and I slid down a natural slide into the rocky pool of water and swam on my back toward the sun, taking a mental note of the gargantuan task I just accomplished. I did it!

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Renée and her guide Olvin as he gives a tutorial on how to rappel before the hike. Courtesy of Jennifer Jackson

Unfortunately, this sense of accomplishment was quickly obliterated when I learned there was one more waterfall to descend. The problem was that the waterfall in question was not a waterfall, but, in fact, a cliff. A cliff! “How will I get down when I’ve used all my superhero juice for the day?” I remember thinking to myself. The steepness was disorienting. There was no body coherence just proper terror as my feet and knees froze on the mossy edge of the cliff. Whatever juice I did have left, I used to help the guides pull me up.

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Renée Cheréz rappelling down the practice run, a 35-foot waterfall, October 2022. Photo courtesy of Las Cascadas Lodge

Thankfully, I was graciously guided back the way we came; scrambling through pools of water, climbing up wet rocks and back down those plentiful moss-filled, jagged jungle steps. By the next day, I was done with feeling guilty about not finishing with the group because, for me, something truly valuable took place on that cliff: My “no” was respected and heard. And for me, that was more significant than completing the final rappel.

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