Monday, May 2, 2011

4/27/11: Ziplining! La Fortuna - Santa Elena/Monteverde. 70 miles, 3 hours.

Head out around 10AM for the relatively short 70 mile ride to Monteverde. I'm hoping to get there in time to go on a ziplining tour, since its the only thing I am really interested in doing there. That will save me an extra day, which is essential for me now as the clock is ticking heading into my last month on the road. The ride is pretty nice as advertised, some great views form the road circling the lake, up until the town of Tillaran. A couple of miles out of town, the road turns especially shitty. Not in the mood for it today, just want to get to where I am going and go on the canopy tour. About halfway to town on the dirt road, I notice my side saddlebag is hanging off. This has been an ongoing problem, due to a couple of the accidents I had had previously, and some suspect welding which is not allowing the bag to latch properly. Im getting pretty pissed, at the end of my rope with this particular problem after weeks of jerry-rigging it. A manual laborer trudges by and with a smile, takes a piece of string around his neck and hooks it up. He leaves with the same smile, and I wish I wasn't so annoyed inside; this guy has definitely helped and put some things into perspective. 20 bone-shaking kms later and Im in the town of Santa Elena, jumping off point to Monteverde National Park, and I find a hostel there for 7 bucks a night, which will also set me up with a tour. My roommate is Harry from England who is 3 years (!) into a rond-the -world trip in a modified Toyota Land Cruiser, a vehicle which I have been lusting after recently (and the type of ride that Christian, from Expedition Portal/Panama promotes heavily on his website). I book the last tour of the day at 2:30 to go ziplining, take a short tour of the town and am back in time to catch the shuttle which will take me to sail over the jungle treetops hanging from a half-inch cable.
Me and a couple from Vancouver wait for a bit before the shuttle shows up. The van is packed, there are about 12 people total. 10 minutes later we are at the zipline spot. I pay the 40 bucks and get all harnessed and helmeted up. We have a tutorial by one of the guides and then we are off. Its awesome. The cables are pretty long, and we are in pretty close quarters to the surrounding jungle. After about 4 lines, we are all on a little platform and we have to rappel down. It seems a pretty long way up, and I get that feeling, but there is a guy with a belay at the bottom who controls your speed down the rope, and Im down in a couple of seconds. I look up at the platform from the bottom, it only about 30 feet up. Feeling like a bit of a pussy, we move on to several more ziplines which get longer and longer. We do one that is 400 meters long, and easily a couple of hundred feet of the rainforest floor. This one is particularly cool, because you start out surrounded by trees and after a couple of seconds, the world opens up around you and you are completely above the forest and the floor, surrounded by nothing but air. The last line is 750 (!) meters long, and I opt to do it "Superman style", hanging from the line with the cable attached to my back. Arms and legs out, I am pushed off and it is just like the last line, flying high and uninterrupted across the rainforest but with the added illusion of actually flying, as the line, harness and other contraptions are completely out of your visual.
There is one more surprise left: the Tarzan Swing. So basically you walk out onto a platform at the ned of a long bridge and then a guy ties a line to your harness and you jump off and swing out. Like bungee jumping but not feet first. I think its like 130 feet off the ground. I didnt sign up for this. I hear people screaming s they jump off , but you can't see how far down it is from where I am standing. I walk out there and look down. I know immediately this is not happening. The hard packed dirt floor that far down, and the guy with the rope controlling you fall manually with a little pulley system make my mind up for me. Most people ended up going. Not me. Fuck that. Nothing to prove. Don't feel bad for not doing it. Don't feel like a pussy. Maybe a little regret in the van on the way back. That passes really quickly. Sometimes I get a bad feeling about shit and I actually listen to myself. Maybe Im just justifying. I dont care. Im good with it, for reals. A bunch of us head out to a local bar later, where the Vancouver/Blackhawks Game 7 is playing. Im with a bunch of Vancouver-ites who are going apeshit, as the Canucks win in overtime. Back to the hostel, hang out with Harry the LandCruiser Overland guy for a while, talking about traveling and chess aming other things. Im glad to be leaving CR tomorrow and be back in Nicaragua. Ive got 13 bucks on me and Im gonna try to cross the border wihtout hitting an ATM, as I have enough Nicaraguan Cordobas to last me a while once I am there.

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