Multiple sources apprised the five kilometer journey a forty-five minute walk and told me to simply ask people along the way. I armed myself with an arsenal of bananas and commenced the cruise in my eight-year-old black Reef sandals. These sandals have been to me like God is to the religious contingent. They are my saviors.
My taut throat and buffeted body proved as much a nuisance as internet pop-ups. However, I was predisposed to be productive. After thirty-five minutes I asked a food stand man where the waterfall was.
"One kilometer," he replied with a smile and a finger point down the path.
The forested mountains entwined with the azure reeling river below and cobalt sky above, amalgamating in an aqua arena to my egregious eyesight.
As I contemplated the existence of anal beads I tripped over a Humpty-Dumpty head-sized rock, disconnecting one of my sandals. I bellowed like a wounded wallaby.
Thirty minutes later, without waterfall signs, I again inquired.
"One kilometer," was his reply.
I trudged on with the determination of the Little Engine That Could. An hour later an Indian man on a motorbike halted before me and offered a ride.
"No, that's okay. I'm sure I'm almost there. Maybe one more kilometer. Thank you though," I said.
"I'll give you a ride. Get on," Angel offered.
Within 1.23 seconds I had flung my legs over the seat, gripped the back hand-hold with one hand, and urged him to continue. Angel blinked with the astonishment frogs feel concerning their sexuality, but he accelerated. The wind volleying my face and the fact that I was not walking made me feel as liberated as a garden gnome.
"The mountains and this ride are so romantic," Angel observed.
I agreed. I would have agreed if he had told me he was my great-grandmother incarnate.
"Romance is very important. Do you like romance?" he continued.
"Yep, love romance," I replied. I would have agreed with him if he said he had seen a unicorn.
Within five minutes, still waterfall-absent, Angel told me was not a virgin and had had romance with two women.
My response was to congratulate him and then say that I had a boyfriend I loved very much in California.
The existence of my boyfriend is about as real as the existence of the word "haitress." Translation: angry waitress.
"What's his name?" Angel asked.
"Gal... ileo. Galileo."
"What does he do?"
"He trains... clowns."
"What are clowns?"
"Performers. He trains performers. We call them clowns."
This conversation was making as much sense as me saying my occupation was teaching ants to read.
"Oh. Okay. Will you make romance with me?" my savior asked as he reached his hand back to pull my arms around his waist. In India, men hold hands and heterosexual couples show no public physical affection towards each other. Thus, this was as unusual as one-eyed mice. I laughed and refused to touch him.
"You mean sex? No, I have a boyfriend. Galileo. Clown Trainer. Remember?"
"Make love with me."
Again I refused. This question and answer repeated thirty-seven times. The sun was falling, I still hadn't found the waterfall, I felt like I had Gonorrhea of the life, and my sandal was broken. Angel's name was actually Preet. When I said my friends were waiting for me back in the town of Rishikesh, he offered to procure a hotel room for the night.
His cardinal argument was that I was the first white woman he had ever talked with and his dream was to "make love" with a white woman.
"That's nice. But I have Galileo, and my dream is to not sleep with an Indian man," I replied.
He implored me to seventeen more times.
I ejected myself from the motorbike only to realize that we were miles from the town and I didn't know where I was. I got back on. We never found the waterfall.
I later learned that I had passed the waterfall signs in the first ten minutes of my walk. In retrospect, I must have passed the notices when I was amusing myself by pretending to be a robot.