Saturday, May 30, 2009

(Lots of) Falling Water

Chile is a constant surprise. I wrote in an earlier entry about my Dad telling me that to come to Chile, and to go from the north to the south, would show me every climate the world has to offer.

He forgot to mention the water.

On the road from Talca to Temuco, a road which doesn't bend (can someone say I-80 in Iowa?), Isabel turned from her front seat vantage point in the bus and said that the driver asked if we wanted to see an extraordinary waterfall along the way. I asked how far off the road it was, and how far away it would take us. I thought an hour perhaps. She looked at me strangely and said, "it's Chile. About 5 minutes." The point being that in a country 5,000 miles long and 5 miles wide its not really possible to go too far east or west.

So I said sure, lets stop.

We pulled off the Pan American, which is a toll road in this part of the world, and drove to the waterfall. About, oh, 1/2 a mile. Now, spectacular nature isn't supposed to exist within spitting distance of the major highway in the country, but there it was. The falls themselves were all the you could imagine and hope for. The strange proximity of a hotel, with a dozen back porch sliding glass doors just about 50 yards from them, and the empty swimming pool, with its inevitable, unearthly green/blue paint, threw the bucolic nature of a stunning cascade of water hurling over the lip of the earth off. So did the 50 gallon drum upended on the north bank. But the falls themselves were exquisite.

The contrast in those falls, where so much water falls from the sky throughout the drainage basin for just this one river, to that of the arid Middle East, where the dominant talk is of Amman, Jordan (and much of the country itself) running out of water in 30 years is startling. From desert to deluge in four weeks time on tour -- at about 8,500 miles distance. I honestly doubt as much water flows through the Jordan River in an entire year as flows over just these falls alone in a single day.

And it wouldn't have surprised me if someone went F.L. Wright one better and built a house over these one day. (that's not an endorsement in any way of that idea). Call it "madly falling water."

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