Hidden in the mountains of Santo Domingo, above Samara, is a breathtaking waterfall about 100 meters high spilling into a pool of cool clean water. The waterfall is located in a property finca owned by the Diaz family, and Chong Diaz, who was born 51 years ago, takes people there on horseback. When asked if the waterfall has a name, Chong says no, but then he decides to dub it the Diaz Waterfall Catarata Los Diaz.
At about 8:30 in the morning, we leave on horseback and ride along the sand across Samara Beach, looking out at the ocean under a clear blue sky. At Matapalo, we leave the beach, cross the road and head up toward Santo Domingo, following the mountain road up up up with panoramic views of Samara's coastline. After passing a few houses, it is just us and the natural beauty of the mountain. The sounds of silence—even the howler monkeys hanging from the trees don't make a sound. All we hear are birds singing and the horses' hoofs clip-clopping up the dirt road. The horses are coated in sweat now and breathing heavy. I can't imagine how many times I would have to stop to rest if I attempted to trek up this steep road on foot, and I pity and admire the hard-working horses.
Farther up the vegetation changes—nothing but teak trees, growing straight and tall. Chong recalls when the mountain was covered with a variety of fruit trees like guava and avocado, along with palm trees and pastures potreros. But now teak is being grown commercially.
We have been riding for an hour and 45 minutes when I hear the rush of water and round a bend in the road to see a creek flowing through the trees. Soon after, we turn off into tall grass, where no trail is visible, but Chang knows this land. We tie the horses to a cluster of trees, where they will enjoy a well-deserved rest as we continue on foot, stepping from stone to stone across a creek, ducking under barbed wire and then carefully choosing our footing as we descend a steep slope. If he fixed the trail, Chong explains, it wouldn't be natural anymore, and natural is more beautiful.