It rained all night. Every time I awoke it was to a relentless drumming on the tin roof and the occasional chirp from one of the six geckos stuck on the underside of the foil insulation.
We awoke to a drenched environment, a dense greenery that glistened and dripped in the still morning. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a feeling of wetness whilst standing on terra firma and the scent of wet earth was everywhere. After breakfast we walked uphill through dense forest towards a tall waterfall that dropped sheer over a rocky escarpment. It was a Jurassic image straight from ‘The Land that Time Forgot’. As we walked I became aware of a heightened feeling of caution, that we were moving through a very foreign and mysterious place, a sensation not unlike being underwater. The profusion and density of growth was quite overpowering, one felt hemmed in by innumerable green barriers, and in places it was a twig or two short of being impenetrable.
For a few moments the sun broke through and the light had a diamond bright intensity as it streamed out of a deep blue hole in the clouds through air that was Pacific pure and unpolluted. The change in the depth of tone in the lush vegetation was astonishing. It was as though the chromosome responsible for photosynthesis in every plant had been turned up to 11 and combined with the clarity of the light produced a quality of the colour green that was almost shockingly alive. It was green with added greenness, green plus, green on steroids. A muscular, almost visibly pulsating green that had a wild fecund energy and look about it.
But as time went on I noticed that there were not the plagues of infernal insects that could render this uninhabitable or unbearable. No leeches squirmed out of the ground or dropped from trees, mosquitoes did not suck our blood through their needle-thin probes and soldier ants did not raise pea-sized lumps. So in spite of my cautious mood it was actually a very benign patch of jungle. Later this was enhanced by an abundance of tropical fruits: grapefruit the size of small footballs hung heavy on trees; there were papayas aplenty; large coconuts swayed way overhead and other unknown fruits covered the ground in rosy ripeness. If one had know what everything was you were probably standing in the middle of the most sensational tropical fruit smorgasbord imaginable. At a view point we looked back towards the sea, just a small inlet ringed by spiky mountains all covered in dense forest. Beside us great fractured stands of Bamboo nodded gently like great furry green worms as they soared skyward
Arriving at the base of the waterfall the air felt wetter than ever and the sound of the falling water drowned out all other noise. We stripped and slid down smooth rocks into the cold swirling water. Out in the middle of the deep pool the current was strong and you had to swim hard to make headway. Head down I made a sprint for a rock between the two main chutes and, with a slackening of the current, managed to find a finger hold in the rock and hold myself steady. The super-aerated water had a negatively buoyant effect and I could feel a pull downward into the swirl pool. Looking up one fall I could see the water cascading from side to side down the smoothly polished rock and leaping into the air as it hit various ledges to rebound off and change direction. Seen from the water at the base it was a mesmerising sight which I enjoyed for as long as I could maintain the finger hold and resist the downward drag. Finally letting go I was swept out into the centre of the pool, spinning slowly and watching the intense, almost suffocating, beauty of the rainforest rise up and away all around me beneath the jungle sky. And finally, within the jungle of myself, I felt at peace.