Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Of Lower and Longer Lakes

The largest of our lakes, the longest by some distance, four times the length of the next longest, in fact, is considered one of the least interesting. There are reasons for this, but it still has quite enough beauty and interest to be worth a look now and then, and I go along beside it quite regularly.

One reason it’s unpopular is that it’s hard to get to by car. There’s no road, only a dirt track that needs an off-road vehicle or a car you don’t care much about. Then there are no swimming places, nowhere you can easily enter the water, and nowhere comfortable to put a towel down and take the sun afterwards. And no bars.

Also, it’s the last of the lakes, at the end of a string below the village, which are not much visited either, as most people follow the road upstream where the action is. And it’s artificial, dammed to provide power and irrigation to the area, flooding the valley and creating a lake where before there was just a stream. This was many years ago, but it isn’t natural and somehow this affects the perception of it. It’s geologically less interesting, too, because like all the lakes below the village it is fed directly by rainwater and by outflow from the higher lake, whereas at the higher lakes the level depends on the level of the ground water, which in turn depends on how much it’s filtered down from the mountains since the last heavy rains. This means that it takes a year or two of rain before the level in these higher lakes starts rising again, once it’s dropped dramatically. It also means that the water level in the cave systems in the hills around the lakes is the same as in the lakes themselves, offering further opportunities for drowning, which visitors seize upon with sad regularity.

Returning to the long lake, the reservoir, I said it was unpopular with the bathing, lying about and drinking classes because it doesn’t offer much of these things and is hard to get to, these two circumstances doubtless being related, but it is popular with fishermen and cyclists, because we know the spots that are worth going to. There are some spectacular views, some lovely curves and tree-covered islets, presumably some good fishing, and a lot of birds. I saw a flamingo rise from the reeds beside me yesterday and flap slowly away, accompanied by smaller, black birds, apparently of the same family.

The path runs for several miles along the water’s edge, then turns away from it, uphill, and takes you through a farm well above the lake, from which you get another perspective on the water. I like to go there, as it’s quieter and has more variety than the more fashionable spots, and, though it means a longer ride, when you’re not in a hurry and you don’t mind the heat, that’s part of the fun.

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