“Yessir, yesmam – this Waterfall Tour is on flat surface. Very beautiful – not to be missed!”
And with that assurance, we were hooked. And booked.
It’s clear ADA standards have not made it to Fiji.
Whoever coulda deemed the 90% vertical boulder-packed grade at Mud Mountain (as we came to call it) as ‘flat’ likely had spent a bit too much time imbibing the famous Fijian ‘kava’ drink.
The scenic drive up (via 4-wheel drive pickumup) shoulda warned us, but hey – reassured by the hotel’s own Mistress of Tourism of the short, flat scenic walk awaiting us, the only thought that came to mind as we bumped our way up the mountain was a delighted “Hey, the truck’s doing the hard part for us.”
Little did we guess that in fact it was only bringing us to the halfway point.
I also suppose we shoulda guessed when Bill went flying at the first encounter with mud, which made its rich, sinewy and squishy appearance soon after the first clap of enthusiastic thunder from above, and only 5 minutes into the ‘short walk’.
Or maybe when we were called upon to fijord what could only be described as a rapidly rising, raging river our guide enthusiastically deemed a ‘stream’.
Nonethless, you can’t say Americans won’t give even the most dire-appearing circumstances the ‘ole gung-ho attitude. And, soft – don’t let it be said that a man undergoing a gout attack, a toothache, and sciatica gang-up (and his companion sporting bad knees) can’t remain hopeful – for two muddy hours – that the “most beautiful waterfall in the world” is ‘just around the corner’.
It’s simply amazing what a can-do attitude (blended with ‘but we already PAID for this experience’) can do.
We made it to said waterfall – but it was raining so hard, I didn’t even attempt to bring out the camera … which is a shame because a photo of the cane-waving Mr. Bill in bare feet (the mud sucked off his shoes) fijording Mud Mountain would’ve gone viral. (And btw – rain is exactly why it’s called a ‘rainforest’. Don’t say we didn’t ask for it!)
Despite the lack of photos ‘from the top’, however, the camera doesn’t lie … and I DID manage to capture (in living color) Bill’s butt going up Mud Mountain:
(…you will note the lack of a sandal on one foot. So this one OBVIOUSLY was shot as the shoes were biting the dust [or, in this case, being sucked into the mud]).
Not content with capturing one back-end shot, apparently I moved to the forefront of matters:
Note the hand that guided him was NOT mine, but that of a too-cheerful guide who later confessed that when he saw the old man with a cane, he wondered what in heck the Tourist Desk was doing to him now?
And finally, I captured the Dynamic Duo as they wound their way up Mud Mountain:
(…I can only feel blessed no aspiring photographer caught MY fat butt struggling up Mud Mountain!)
And the ‘amazing waterfall’ reminded us how lucky we are that virtually ANY waterfall seen in the States superseded this little pooper by at least 40 feet….but, it’s the thought (and the hope!) that counts.
Trooper Bill bravely entertained the guide by cracking jokes all the way back, even whilst in the throes of slippin’ and slidin’ and emitting small screams of terror as we slid back down Mud Mountain.
I totally attribute my ability to walk for hours in slippery mud to the knee treatments Heidi Sue Roth has given me, without which I’d likely never have made it off Mud Mountain.
Me, I soldiered on; often getting far ahead where the raucous laughter and moans of humanity faded and the sound of crickets in the trees was so loud, it was akin to thunder, punctuating the raindrops with a crackling, humming joy.
PS: We were served a ‘feast’ thereafter. Apparently my camera dutifully came out to record the food we were served:
I do recall the feast consisted of: lamb sausages, an intriguing tuna-and-taro greens dish (looked like barf, tasted delicious!), various tropical fruits, and a fried cassava root dish.
But what did your intrepid mountain climbers down the fastest? Why, the juice!
Because, guess what??? The Fijians have apparently not heard of ‘hydration’ during mountainclimbing.
And so the intrepid Mud Mountain Expedition of 2.5+ hours was achieved with NARY A DROP OF LIQUID TO DRINK.