Ziplining Through Costa Rica

by Sandra KHorn • Member { View Profile }

I am a teacher and dealing with the new stresses and challenges of NCB, helicopter parents, and cutbacks usually take a great toll on my psyche by the end of the year.  This year going to Costa Rica after school was out really allowed me to get through the tough end of a difficult year.

My husband and I arrived at San Jose airport knowing we had a potentially hard drive ahead of us.  A passenger who lived in Costa Rica warned us of robbers who punctured tires as tourists stopped for gas or fruit along Highway National. When the tires became flat, the robbers would stop to "help" and steal valuables from the tourist’s cars. 

In Costa Rica the speed limit is 60 Kilometers, so speed was not an option to give us a false safety net. We traveled through the mountains and flat lands for five hours finally arriving in the area of our destination only to find we could not find our resort.  Not only that, in Costa Rica, darkness fell around 6:30 PM.  We had banked on daylight as we have in Ohio until 9:30 PM.  

We stopped at several places to ask for directions, each time worried about the tire puncturing robbers.  No one spoke enough English to assist us in directions we could understand.  After 15 hours of traveling what little Spanish we knew was hard to recall. Finally, we stopped at an Emergency Medical Facility and the kind doctor on duty who knew English guided us to our resort.  Our white knuckle traveling experience came to a much-needed conclusion. 

In Costa Rica, ziplining above the Costa Rica Rainforest Canopy is a popular activity. Advertisements for the canopy ride decorate Highway National. At the resort pool we would hear other tourists talk about the ride and say how much fun it is. Above the pool every day, children zip lined from one point to another. People would laugh and try to splash the kids as they were close to their destination on the platform goal. Sometimes the kids were too light and would stop midflight and the instructor would have to bounce the line to assist the kids to move to their goal. I watched with a kind of Not Me feeling in the pit of my stomach.

We had two days left in Costa Rica when something possessed me to want to find more adventure. I still don’t know what made me do it but I persuaded my husband to go on The Canopy tour. Perhaps it was the children being able to brave the line every day. Perhaps it was the constant talk round the pool about how much fun it was. Perhaps it was the rum drinks so available at the poolside bar. But arrange the tour we did.

Friday morning we set off in a creaky old van. I was terrified and felt at any time I would turn tail and not go on the tour. The van turned onto a pitted mud trail to make the climb to the rainforest. Our tour guide made jokes as we bounced and swayed up the trail. I can’t tell you what he said or quote any of his jokes I was too busy reminding myself to breathe. We stopped for Burmese cattle to cross in front of us. Several times I looked out the window and saw we were a foot away from a long drop to the rainforest floor. I closed my eyes again and wondered what possessed me to get into this situation.

We arrived finally at a primitive set of buildings. Six of us from the van were outfitted with helmets, leather tool belts like a lineman from the electric company would wear, and thick utility gloves. I tried to lighten up and pose for pictures in my get up. My husband was watching me closely knowing I was nervous. Two jovial native young men who immediately joked but gave us serious instructions on what not to do when we arrived at the platform of our first zip line challenge joined us.

We were guided to a set of winding steel stairs that I guessed would take us to our first platform. The height of the stairs and my helmet stopped me from seeing how high we were about to climb.

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