Today, I followed Shay (the juggling Israeli) and his girlfriend to a mystical waterfall and rock pool, hidden deep in the jungle, and yet only about a half-hour walk from our base of El Panchán. Every day, this place is frequented by a small number of serenity-seeking hippies, who come to swim in the pool, to climb the waterfall, and to meditate.
The beautiful jungle waterfall at Palenque.
Swimming in the pool(s) is a little cold, but really quite divine. It's also very refreshing to situate yourself right under the waterfall, and to give yourself a most thorough natural shower. Some people swim with swimmers on, while others prefer to go naked. Whatever floats your boat.
Although it looks quite dangerous and challenging, it's actually fairly safe and easy to climb to the top of the waterfall. Once at the top, you can sit on the edge, and feel the water as it rushes past your hips, legs, and feet — it virtually rushes right through them — and then watch it cascade down onto the rocks below. Some people like to sit atop this grand pinnacle and meditate.
After spending several hours in and beside the pools, I decided to follow a crazy Canadian guy called Rusty on an adventure through the surrounding jungle. Barefoot and in naught but our swimmers, we scrambled up steep, muddy hillsides, climbed over fallen tree trunks thicker than we were tall, and bashed through trees and scrub.
We ended up coming out on the edge of some farmland, and continuing our journey by climbing some cleared, semi-cultivated hills. At the top of these hills, we had some dazzling views of the jungle and the countryside for miles around us.
At this point, my Canadian companion continued on ahead of me, and we got separated. I started trying to find my way back, but was quickly filled with a growing dread that I was lost and alone in the middle of the jungle. Fortunately, we hadn't gone that far, and I was able to navigate in the jungle fairly well (the nearby river and waterfall was a great help), and to find my way back to the rock pools; and from there, back to El Panchán.