1. Pull off the Pan American Highway and park in a dirt lot.
2. Use the back row of the van to change into your swimsuit.
3. Wait for the friend with the 4×4 who tells you the van can probably make it to the falls because it didn’t rain that hard last night.
4. Hike down the hill, sometimes to take a helping hand, sometimes to take a photograph.
5. See the gray-blue ripples just before you hear the rush.
7. Marvel at its beauty.
8. Wipe the mist from the lenses of your sunglasses.
9. Ignore insecurities.
10. Walk in, one step at a time.
12. Swim straight into the fall, and feel the pounding of the water on your face.
13. Say “this would have been a great place to take pictures with my waterproofed iphone” and sigh to the French Canadian. Feel better after she tells you how she lost all of her photos on the last day of her Kenya trip, and how she learned then that “right now is all I need to remember.”
14. Float on your back and take it in for as long as you can.
15. Dry off in the sand.
17. Hike back up the hill.
18. Drink water out of a coconut with a straw.
19. Dive back into the bus, and sit on beach towels and halfway promise that you’re “not that wet.”
20. Talk about how awesome it was to swim in the one of the last waterfalls that is still open for swimming in Costa Rica.
The Llanos de Cortez waterfall was a hidden treasure we didn’t expect to experience in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste. It was lovely. We went early, and were some of the first visitors of the day. Some said most of the local waterfalls have been closed for swimming due to bacteria and other issues, so it was especially great that we got to float in the lagoon and perch ourselves on the mossy rocks under the falls.