by Venezuela Britkidz’ teacher Jo Everitt
As a Humanities teacher at the Queen Eleanor Community College in Stamford (Lincolnshire, Inglaterra), I have a passion for learning about the world we live in, so I jumped at the chance of the opportunity to go with three students to Venezuela, a country I myself knew little about.
You can read all about the trip from the Britkidz, Toni and Hafiza, but what I would like to share with you is what it feels like to experience something you only thought could be possible in a dream.
As a Geography teacher at heart, I am sure you can imagine the excitement and anticipation I felt as I boarded a plane knowing that in just over an hour I would be seeing with my very own eyes the highest waterfall in the world. Sí, you’ve guessed it, El Salto del Ángel! We were in a small six-seater plane and flew over some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen … dense forests, mountains and rivers that carelessly wind through the landscape. I can remember the moment as if it was yesterday (if only!). The pilot told us that we were near to Angel Falls, and I am sure my heart skipped a beat as I waited eagerly … I was excited and almost nervous … would it live up to my expectations?
This question was soon answered, I saw Angel Falls for the first time from about 2,000 meters up in the air and I couldn’t believe it.
A lump went to the back of my throat, my eyes filled and I was truly speechless.
It was one of those moments where you have to stop and take a reality check … you think, just for a second, that you could wake up at anytime. I am pleased to say that this time the dream was very real.
At first Angel Falls appears to be a kind of mystery. At a glance it is difficult to comprehend how such a spectacular sight can be produced. On the mountain top water slowly goes down a stream heading for the edge. The only way I could describe it to you is that like it is totally unaware of its fate, a sheer drop of nearly 2,000 metros. Angel Falls is surrounded by mist that gives you a magical and mysterious feeling. It is without a doubt one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, and if this wasn’t enough it was about to get a lot better.
We had a night to rest at a camp in Canaima National Park before we embarked on our journey to get closer to the Falls. The journey involved a five-hour canoe ride along the Carrao River. It felt as though we were almost part of the river as we glided through the channel, winding with the river through this untouched prehistoric landscape.
We arrived at our camp opposite Angel Falls, unloaded the canoes, had some lunch and then began our hike to the fall. It was not the easiest walk I have ever done, but definitely the most fulfilling. As we walked through the jungle, I was amazed by the beautiful vegetation that surrounded me. I remember looking up and only just being able to see the blue sky as it was masked by the leaves of the jungle canopy. I could tell when we were near to the Falls as I felt the mist and spray on my face. Seeing Angel Falls close up was overwhelming. I sat on a rock just staring into the fall watching in disbelief and pure amazement. It’s one of those moments where your mind starts to wander and you start to reflect on your life. Angel Falls made me feel special, as I felt lucky to be in its presence, but also small as I felt insignificant in comparison to such an immense feature. This close, Angel Falls comes alive … you can feel the power and beauty of Mother Nature at her work.
I was one of the last members of the group to leave the falls. I think I could have sat there all day just thinking, watching and taking it all in. The overwhelming feeling of calmness and tranquility I experienced while I was at Angel Falls still comes back to me now as I think and write about it.
I reluctantly left the falls with Antonio (nuestra guía) who took the lead and started to guide us back to our camp. As we started to walk back, the heavens opened … I’m not talking about your everyday shower, but a full on tropical storm. The droplets of rain seemed bigger and to hit you harder. I found myself laughing … it just seemed to add to the adventure. There I was, walking through the jungle in a storm, having just seen and felt Angel Falls. Guau!!
When we arrived back at our camp, I was drenched … it was like I had just jumped into a bath and, do you know, I didn’t care.
We spent the night in hammocks with nothing but a blanket and mosquito net to protect us. It felt strange at first, but when I eventually got to sleep I slept well. I don’t remember dreaming that night. There was really no need … I was happy and content and had just experienced one of the best days of my life.
When I opened my eyes in the morning the first thing I saw was Angel Falls. I lay there slowly rocking from side to side in my hammock with a big smile on my face.
I bought a hammock when we got back to our camp in Canaima, I know that whenever I lie in it, I’ll remember Angel Falls and the feelings I had when I was there … but now, when I wake up, I will be scared to open my eyes as I know Angel falls won’t be there. I have such memories of Angel Falls and Venezuela that will stay with me forever.
When I teach about rivers and waterfalls, I will talk about Angel Falls with a passion because I have lived and experienced it for myself. I have been inspired by many people on our journey through Venezuela.
People have gone out of their way to make us feel warm and welcome.