The cascading waters glisten in the morning sun, and a gentle breeze sprays tiny droplets of water on my face as I stand before the awe-inspiring beauty of the blue waterfalls of Agua Azul. It’s 8 AM in the morning. I just reached here after one hour of peddling through the forest. But, all the hassle has been worth it.
Despite all the noise and action of the running waters, everything seems quiet and still. The calmness is overwhelming. When Neruda wrote his famous “Keeping Quiet,” I am sure he must have been struck by this very tranquil beauty of nature, somewhere in the shadows of these waterfalls.
Where is Agua Azul
Agua Azul is a series of waterfalls on the Xanil River in Southern Mexico’s Chiapas rainforest. It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in the region. The waterfalls consist of several cataracts following one after the other when you look at the top of the sequence of cascades. The larger cataracts seem just as high as 20 feet or so. Along with the distance, the water descends into 2 different streams, forming small islands in the middle.
The waterfalls see quite a hustle and bustle on a regular day. I am told, the rush of people gets a bit too much. Yet on the day, I reach the waterfalls, there are only a few visitors.
I see faces from all over the world, awestruck by the serenity of the surroundings. An Asian family of four is busy making memories for the rest of their life. An English couple is enjoying the scene, calmly sitting on aside. A lone African traveler is about to start painting his next masterpiece.
My thoughts begin wandering…The image of waterfalls slowly begins to fade in front of my eyes. And I get lost in the moment.
The Possibilities of Life
In such a big world, I could have been somewhere else. I could have become someone else. However, I find myself here in the company of the Agua Azul waterfalls. Of all the possibilities life could offer, I ended up taking this “less traveled” route.
Like my father, I might have busted my socks off, running from pillar to post in a repetitious nine to five. Or I could have continued to be a high school teacher. I could have carved myself a nice career, settled down with the love of my life, raised a family, and lived happily ever after. I could have raised a family – like every other regular human being.
Or I could have lost both of my legs in an accident had I not seen the approaching car when I was dozing off near a busy street as a child.
Or the love of my life could have accepted my proposal to get married and settle down in my hometown…never finding any motivation to leave my hometown and go see all the places I saw in these years.
Or I could have canceled my trip to Mexico after COVID struck and closed the borders all over the world.
So many possibilities… And yet I followed the path, to be at this very moment, at this very place, to see the shimmering waterfalls of Agua Azul?
Who would have thought a small-town boy from a far-off town of Pakistan will once be standing before these dazzling waters?
The Direction of Life
Just like a river takes several different routes, we follow several different paths after being born while cascading our way down to the ocean we call death.
Flowing water in the river has no idea where it is going or why. Melting snow on the mountain tops cares less about where it ends up. The calming breeze never craves a career path to follow for the rest of its life. Everything in nature just does what it does. Water flows, snow melts, and the morning breeze makes our day without any effort.
Likewise, standing in front of the blue waters of the Agua Azul, I ponder over my place in nature. I don’t know why I am doing what I am doing. I don’t know whether the decision to spend half of my life getting an education was a good one if all I ever wanted were to live on the dusty roads in distant corners of the world. I don’t know what purpose my travels serve.
But, somehow, a bike, a camera, and some Japanese camping equipment changed my life. Just like a river, a flake of snow and morning breeze, I kept on following my path, bouncing off of a myriad of other things, unaware of where the road took me or what the future held for me. I just know that traveling to distant places, meeting strangers, and spending some time in the wild, rejuvenates my energies. I just know that traveling makes me happy.
Sure it’s an uncertain path, but I never for a second regret taking it. I am just wondering how it all started and where it will lead me to? Who animal species will I meet next? What places will I see next? What tantalizing tastes will I try on my next adventure? And most of all, what kind of people will I meet next? Whether they will be as courteous and kind as I met on y previous adventures?
I don’t know the answers to all of these questions. Honestly, I don’t really want to know their answers as I don’t really care about them. I just know that traveling makes me happy. I just know that meeting new places, trying new tastes and sights like the Agua Azul waterfall rejuvenates my soul.
And That means one thing…
I will continue going on new adventures.
Just like the water isn’t afraid to jump off the heights or where waves take it because all it wants is to flow, why should you and I be scared of what comes next if all we’ve ever wanted is to live?