Costa Rica :: Part 13

This story is being told as a series. Here’s a link to Part 1

Part 13

We spent the morning in small boats, cruising up and down the rivers of Tortuguero, in search of wildlife. The guides, amazingly, could spot from a mile up the river creatures that we struggled to see even when looking right at them from a few feet away. More birds, more lizards, more butterflies, additional varieties of monkeys; now caymans and bats joined the mix. It was beautiful and fascinating, but I will admit that I was happiest when we were viewing things from a bit of distance; if we were deep in grasses and overhanging branches, I worried what might be lurking in them. More specifically, I worried what might be slithering in them.

In the afternoon, I had my chance to try zip-lining for the first time. The gear was clunky, unwieldy, unflattering, but we all looked slightly ridiculous and therefore no one did. I was last in line, watching and learning, excited and nervous.

We took the first line, low to the ground, with no problems, and then needed to climb up to the upper platforms to go on.

The 35-foot ladder to the starting point didn’t look so intimidating from the bottom, but it was the only point along the way that we weren’t safely pinned to something to prevent us from falling. One man decided at the outset not to make the climb; an older woman went up a few steps, but despite encouragement, in the end she turned back and came back down.

A young girl, two ahead of me in line, got halfway up and froze. Her friends above cheered her on from above, while from our vantage point, her other friend and I talked her through it from below. “You’re OK, you’re doing great. You’re more than halfway there, it’s shorter to go up than down. That’s it, you’re getting there. Just a little farther, great job, just a few more steps now…” She was there, successful, beaming. Her friend followed her up, making slow but steady progress, getting nearly three-quarters of the way before slowing, again we cheered him upward, and then it was my turn.

What made the ladder so difficult, I realized, was not just its height, seeming to go on forever, but that the ropes wanted to entangle in our feet as we climbed. We had to go slowly, carefully, inclined to look down and check our feet when looking down would only make it worse. Meanwhile, the thick ladder rungs and heavy gloves didn’t provide a solid grip.

At halfway I, too, paused to gather my own courage. I would go on, I would try this. It seemed that the need to prove something, which had always fueled me along on these adventures — pushing myself up mountains and through strange cities and into the jungle — had fallen away somewhere along the journey. I had to go looking for the fight it had given me. This was what I came here for, this is what I wanted to do, I reminded myself, I will not let fear stop me from trying this, and then I was climbing again, steadily up, not so bad really, just the barest hint of my vertigo rising, and then I was on the platform, the experts clipping me safely in place, my fellow travelers greeting me with smiles.

The zip-lining itself was a fun adventure, one I’d happily repeat, even if I tended to be so focused on the technical aspects that I frequently forgot to take note of the surrounding jungle as I passed through it.

Another group dinner, another night of partying — this time with dancing with the group — another margarita to help me sleep, another dawn awakened to howler monkeys, another group breakfast, and then it was time to board the boats that would take us for the slow ride back to the bus. Chucho awaited our return. He smiled as he offered me a hand I didn’t need to get back on the bus. He seemed happy to see us.

A slow drizzle began as we reached the dock, gathering strength as we headed west.

Copyright © 2010

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~ by lorakceel on May 10, 2010.

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