“Goodbye” the guide waved to me as he pushed me off, backwards, off a platform in a tree. I shrieked as I fell through the thick rainforest, feeling nothing but air whooshing past me. Just feet before I hit the ground, the rope that was connected to my harness tightened, saving me from crashing into the hard earth below. We were zip lining through the jungle, and the guide’s idea of a practical joke made me realize that some countries aren’t as strict on safety laws as the United States. I shot a glare up at the guide who was laughing hysterically in the tree, and racked my brain for something rude to say in Spanish. Nothing came to mind, so I quickly unhooked myself so I could walk to the next tree. I zip lined through the Costa Rican jungle all morning, with nothing but the misty cool air whipping past my face.
The journey had started that morning with Marvi (what our group named our tour bus) chugging up the mountain. I slept with my face plastered up against the glass, and woke only when I heard the engine stall and felt the wheels steadily start to roll backwards down a steep mountain hill. Thanks to some quick thinking and expert steering from our trustworthy bus driver, we (and Marvi) made it to 100% Aventura, the adventure outfitter that was to run our zip lining tour. The tour started with a quick safety session, which included visuals of what happens to a hand when people try to grab the cable in the wrong place. After stepping into colorful harnesses and securing orange helmets to our heads that made us resemble the Village People, we pulled on old gardening gloves with leather patches glued to the palms to protect our hands from the thick metal cables.
We climbed rickety ladders onto wooden platforms secured snugly to the trees we coasted between. The cables spanned 30, 40, and sometimes 80 feet to the next platform where a guide waited to hook us onto the next cable that would tangent off in another direction. On the third or fourth platform, I followed the guide’s instruction to jump up so he could hook on my harness to the cable that was above my head. I did so, and heard a heavy grunt come out of the guide. He groaned and pushed me forward off the tree, doubled over in what was clearly pain. I quickly replayed the action in my mind, and realized that my jumping had resulted in some knee-to-crotch action. I winced, and bellowed “Lo Siento!” (“I’m Sorry!”) while I spun toward the next tree.
After swinging on cables like Tarzan all morning, I thought the adventure was over. But then I was led out to the top of a mountain, and noticed a thin line streaming over to the nearest mountaintop. I was being hooked onto a cable in a daze, thinking that liability issues would prevent something like this from happening in the States. I was pushed off the dock, and stared down 1000 feet to the ground. I forced my eyes to stay open the entire ride, even though they were burning. Everything was green and misty, the weather was absolutely perfect, and I was flying. I wasn’t going to miss a second.