Anna wanted to go swimming on her 7th birthday, so this morning we headed off into the mountains above Sandimen in Pingtung County in search of Shalawan waterfall (for the geographically-inclinded: 22°39'27.2"N 120°43'13.8"E). After a few wrong turns, guided by GoogleMaps and a great set of instructions, we arrived without incident and set off on the 1.5km hike.
Anna and Lucy did a great job on the hike in, which afforded us some amazing views. The series of waterfalls in the photo above descends 600m from a hanging valley high in the mountains, and I lost count of the number of waterfalls we saw on the drive in. 40? 50? For the most part, the trail to Shalawan was wide and well maintained. It looked like 4X4s actually used to drive in, however this landslide now prevents all but foot and scooter traffic.
But once we descended the 150m in elevation from the parking lot, we were rewarded with this view.
Imagine the volume of water it would have taken to destroy that suspension bridge! With the careful assistance of some adults, the kids crossed the stream at the rope and played in the pools next to the water, on the stone beach, and climbed around on the rocks. Anna made herself a stone knife and opened up shop teaching the other kids (and adults) how to break rocks to make stone tools. Lucy just loved the water.
We hear it's possible to trace the river upstream to the 160m Deer Creek waterfall. There is just SO MUCH to explore at this particular location. We didn't even make it to the big Shalawan waterfall downstream because the trail was steep and this particular spot was AMAZING. The hike back up to the parking lot was tiring for Anna's legs, but Lucy managed to run the entire way up the switchbacks.
The terrain here is just spectacular to me. I got lost clicking around the terrain level of GoogleMaps last night for a few hours (am I the only one who can get lost in GoogleMaps for hours?). We parked around 750m ASL and then descended to just below 600m. If you look up the valley the terrain quickly rises to the 3000m ridge that divides the eastern and western watershed on Taiwan, only about 4km to the east. We'll be back - there are so many cool things to explore here and it only took about 2 hours from walking out the door at home to swimming.
I've always been a bit of a mystic when it comes to places (this is probably part of the reason I became a geographer). I often marvel at terrain, vistas, flora, fauna, and even (occasionally) the human-made components of the landscape. I'm always excited when I find art that captures some element of the aesthetic and wonder of a place. The screenshot above is captured from a video by adilblues on Vimeo that inspires me. I haven't seen all of these sights yet (perhaps one day), but I did stand in awe of the seascapes of Kenting on our first weekend here in July.
You too can spend watching 4 minutes of inspired wonder.
After my last day of work, packing, 5 days of pre-field orientation at Houghton, 2 full days of driving with 2 weddings in 2 states sandwiched in the middle this past weekend, it's safe to say our transition to our new lives is well underway. We've now hit the point where the girls ask us every evening what the next day will hold. We've started to say goodbyes to U.S. friends who we'll leave behind (though some of the hardest ones are still to come).
Work permits approved, Taiwan visas in process, tickets confirmed for July 22, but still paying the bills for our house full of numbered boxes and disorder that doesn't quite feel like home anymore.
Anna's first podcast is now available on Soundcloud. In Episode 1, Anna answers some tough questions, warns you not to waste bandaids, and gives a recommendation for a favorite show. The podcast is created and produced by two of the most talented people I know (yes, I am hardly impartial but listen and see for yourself). The episode should be available on iTunes later this week.
The seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work.
Berry, Wendell (1998). A Timbered Choir. Berkley: Counterpoint. p. 131.
The 2015 EcoHealth course has drawn to a close but photos are up on my Flickr page.
Everyone is through security and checked in. Desmond is on his way already. The rest of us are waiting sweaty and tired in the airport. Don't think that most of us will have any trouble sleeping on the flight tonight! Students are looking forward to some rest and seeing loved ones. Thanks again for the privilege of sharing the last two weeks with your students!
After a 7 AM breakfast, we flew out of Mbeya and arrived in Dar es Salaam just about an hour ago. All luggage came through unscathed.
In case you haven't heard, traffic in Dar is bad - I mean really bad. We are heading across town to a small shopping center called Slipway. Most of us have 10 hours in town so it's too much time to sit at the airport, and yet about half those hours will be spent fighting traffic.
We actually said goodbye to Desmond at the airport because his flight departs in the afternoon and he would have had to spend 5ish hours in taxis for 30 minutes at the shopping center. Pole sana (very sorry) Desmond!
After a visit to the hospital at Matema, we are now in Mbeya for a hospital tour and a final dinner together. Dr. Cavener leaves us tonight. The rest fly to Dar es Salaam on FastJet tomorrow morning and then depart Tanzania tomorrow night.
The students have been a wonderful group and a pleasure to travel and learn with. Please be sure to give them lots of time to gush and process when you see them in a few days' time!
Students walked down the beach to the village this morning. After lunch we headed up one of the valleys of the mountains in this picture to find a waterfall. Tonight we're having a fish barbecue and a fire on the beach. Hard to believe we'll be heading home in a few more days!
What do you want to read?
|Paul W. Shaffner||