Costa Rica Trip (Day 3, Thursay, October 2)

There were several more people at breakfast on Thursday than there had been at dinner the night before.  If I remember this correctly, Wendy, Maggie’s uncle Calvin, aunt Jill, Ian’s father James, brother Jim and his wife Monica, Maggie’s grandparents, and Ian’s friend Eric/Thor all arrived that night.  Maggie’s mom, Sarah, was supposed to have arrived on the same flight as Wendy, but didn’t.  By the time I heard about it, they already knew that her first flight had been significantly delayed, which had resulted in her missing the connecting flight to San Jose.  She was expected to arrive sometime in the afternoon.

Over dinner the night before, the group had decided that we were going to go to a Canopy Zip-line tour nearby.  Justin and I thought about it really, really hard to decide whether we could afford it, and in the end decided that we’re really regret it if we didn’t take the chance while we had it.  Over breakfast, we determined that pretty much every single person there (with the exception of Maggie’s grandma) wanted to come as well.  So shortly after breakfast, we all packed into cars and land rovers, and set off.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was absolutely terrified to do this when we started out.  Ever since bungee jumping in Thailand, I have a very healthy respect for heights.  I don’t like the idea of falling from them.  And zip-lines are basically horizontal falling with the constant reminder of the vertical distance.

Zip-lining, if you’re not familiar with it, is basically sliding across a cable from one point to another, usually from one side of a valley to the other or from one large tree to another.  A canopy tour, like it sounds, takes you through the canopy of a forest—the high parts of the trees.  You put on rock-climbing gear (those diaper-like harnesses around your legs and waist), to which is attached a large contraption with wheels in it, sort of like a pulley.  The pulley gets attached to the cable running from one point to another, and then you get attached to the pulley by means of karabiners and the climbing harness.  At this tour (I’ve since learned that not all zip-lines are like this), we also wore thick gloves, with an extra layer on the dominant hand with which we held the line behind our heads, to keep us from spinning around in circles and to brake with, should we start going too fast.

So we all got geared up with our harnesses and gloves and safety helmets and hiked up to the first line, where we all got our safety lecture before starting.  Rules included always keep your hand on the line behind your head.  Never take it off the line.  Absolutely never ever put your hand in front of the pulley.  When you’re going, keep your knees tucked up and your ankles crossed.  And have fun!

JustinZipline1.JPGAnd then we started going one at a time across the first line.  It went from one tree across to another tree, over a large pond and manicured lawn of the tour place.  And while I was standing in line, it looked really, really high.  I was toward the end of our group and I just kept watching the others going across, thinking, “They didn’t fall!  They made it okay!  I can do this!”  I still made Justin go ahead of me, though.  He was so excited.  And when he started going, he actually tried to turn around to look at me and smile to make me feel better.  Of course, this meant his legs went flailing all over the place and he had to make sure he didn’t start spinning, but it was still a nice gesture.

And then it was my turn.  I had to jump a little so the pusher (the guy at this end of the line—the guy on the other end is the catcher) could attach me to the line.  And then I put my right hand on the line behind my head, my left hand on the harness line attaching me to the zip-line, tucked up my knees and crossed my ankles, and went.  And it was kind of scary.  It was really high.  And I zipped kind of fast.  But I made it all the way across and didn’t crash into the tree at the other end.  The catcher detached me from the line, attached me to the safety line that kept us from falling off the tree stand, and I went to go wait for the next line behind Justin.  I’d made him promise that he’d never leave me behind by getting onto the next line before I’d landed from the previous, but there was actually a little bit of a wait before moving on.  Which was good because I was shaking quite badly and needed time to calm down a bit.

And that’s how it went—one by one we’d get attached to the line, zip across, get detached on the other end.  After that first line, I couldn’t see the ground anymore because there were trees in the way.  Because we were going over land deep enough to have full-grown trees quite a ways below me.  And some of the lines were longer than others and some of them were faster than others.  Some of them were at the same place as where we’d landed from the previous one, but most of them involved a hike from one platform to the other.  The hikes were nice and clear, through the lush Costa Rican landscape.  Uphill lots of the time, which was harder than normal because we were at a much higher elevation that I’m used to.  It was tiring.

After about the third time across, I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t going to crash down to my death and then I really started to enjoy it.  It was like sliding, except faster and with more to look at.  Justin was absolutely giddy.  By far his favorite part of the trip.  If he could have, he would have spent all day there, and then gone back the next day and the day after that.

The only unfortunate thing that happened was Maggie’s grandfather didn’t pull his legs up before landing once and slammed his legs into the wooden platform.  No serious damage was done, but he did start bleeding.  And once we learned that we’d be doing some serious uphill hiking, he decided to turn back and wait for us back where we’d geared up.  It was a shame because he was really enjoying the zipping.

JustinZipline2.JPGThe final line was really, really long and really, really high and really, really fast.  Justin nearly wet himself in excitement.  I nearly wet myself in fear.  He went ahead of me, like he’d done the entire time at my request, whooping with glee.  I jumped up one last time to get attached to the line and followed him once he was all the way down, screaming once I realized how incredibly long it was and how fast I was going.  The wind stung my eyes and I had trouble seeing, and I wanted to be able to see—both because it was beautiful and because I wanted to be able to see whatever was coming in case I need to take evasive action somehow.

But I made it all the way down without any troubles.  I had to sit down again for a while to stop from shaking, but it was still a lot of fun.  I’m really glad that we decided to go on the tour.

We got a CD of pictures of everybody on the tour, but I don’t have a copy of it yet.  Hopefully we’ll get a copy before too long.

We went back to the gear room to return the harnesses and the rest.  And then some of us went back to the Lodge.  Calvin, Justin and I decided not to go on the coffee tour that the rest of the people were going on.  We don’t really care about coffee farming and we didn’t wa
nt to pay for it.  So instead we hiked out from the Lodge to a restaurant down the hill a little way (the opposite direction from the one we went to on Wednesday) for lunch.  We found a place with an overly bossy waiter who charged us too much, but the food wasn’t bad and we got to watch Spanish-speaking soap operas while we ate.  If you thought soaps were amusing before, try watching them without any understanding of the language.  They take on a whole new level of hilarity!

When we arrived back at the Lodge, Sarah had finally arrived.  Without her luggage.  And upset.  The four of us sat around talking for a while.  And we passed the afternoon not doing much of anything.  The coffee tour group returned after a while, greatly informed on coffee growing and . . . stuff.

We ate dinner at the Lodge that evening—even Justin.  Ian’s father had our end of the table in stitches for most of the meal telling stories or making them up.  He was another fun person to meet—one of nature’s straight-men, telling outrageous stories perfectly calmly and cracking us all up and embarrassing his son.  It was fantastic!

And I’m fairly certain I should remember more about what we did that afternoon and evening, but I’m pulling a complete blank.  I know Justin and I both had problems with our allergies because of people smoking so we retreated to our room for a while.  And that’s probably it—there was a lot of sitting around reading in our room, and when we weren’t in there, we were reading or chatting with people in the Lodge.  It was nice, though.  A great break from normal life.