It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves
– in finding themselves.
There are some trips you take only to rest, relax, eat, drink, sleep and repeat. Then there are others you take because you want to rise up to challenges, experience new things, feel pure adrenaline rush through your veins and are complete unexpected adventures. Inevitably, they change your life…FOREVER.
That is exactly what happened to me just recently when I went to one of my absolute favorite countries on this planet, the ever amazing and spectacular Costa Rica.
Now, I have already shared with you my special visit to a local primary school as part of the Pack for a Purpose Program. As you know, it was a heart-warming and humbling experience which I believe will make me a far better teacher in the future!
However little did I know that I was going to face my biggest fear, go through a roller coaster of emotions, and overcome it thanks to some amazing persons! I would be completely transformed, become stronger and life, as I knew it, would never be the same…ever again!
Quepos Verde Aventura, the exciting tour desk located on site at Parador Hotel and Spa, had programmed some incredible activities during my stay and I learned that I was going to go zip lining in the middle of a tropical forest! They only work with the best tour companies and that is great to know before booking any tour.
Since going to Tiquicia meant going with an open mind and ready for anything, I thought: “Ok, I will go and see how it works. What do I have to lose?” After all I was in the land of epic and unforgettable adventures, sustainable tourism, ecotourism, where else would I have the opportunity to do so?
I decided to do some research online about the company, Canopy Safari, and I was so relieved to learn that it is one of the best, safest and original canopy zip lines in the Manuel Antonio area.
For the past 17 years, they have been taking visitors, children and adults, from around the world to the forest and have allowed them to spend an incredible day doing the following activities:
- Zip lining
- Swinging from a tree (The Tarzan Swing)
- Crossing a suspension bridge
- Visit a butterfly garden and fishing ponds
- Walking simply feel the endorphine rush while admiring the stunning environment, truly enjoying Pura Vida = Pure Life!
After the exalting tour, a typical meal awaits adventurous and hungry souls at the restaurant with the soothing sound of a nearby river.
It is important to wear appropriate clothing and gear for the day. Pants and running shoes are suggested but if you decide to wear shorts and a t-shirt, make sure you apply anti-repellent lotion or cream, bring a face towel and an extra shirt because you will need to change at the end of the tour.
The adventure begins from the moment the modern and comfortable company mini-bus comes and picks you up at your hotel.
I was the first one on the list that Saturday Morning, so I got to meet Lester, the driver and Joe who was a perfectly bilingual and fun guide.
We stopped at different properties to pick up some passengers, coming from a few countries.
Once everyone on the list was on board, we started our descent towards the town of Quepos where the Canopy Safari Tour head office is located.
We went inside to sign a waiver which must be read carefully. After going through the formality, it is time to hit the road.
The rain forest is located about one hour away so the road trip is quite pleasant because you get to admire the Costa Rican country side and take it all in!
A view like this simply takes your breath away. Luscious greens, nature untouched. It is completely energizing and you can feel its power!
We even had to go across some river beds and we were treated to a “Costa Rican Massage” as the guide was telling us! Is it totally worth it? Absolutely! A river runs through it.
After going up and down on gravel roads and countless turns deep into the heart of the land, we finally arrived at our destination!
What seemed to be a rustic wooden home is actually the starting point.
We went straight into the restaurant and sat at the tables to listen to the procedure and very important safety measures.
Now Joe, the main guide of our tour was explaining to us in clear and simple terms how it works and how he was going to help us.
My mind, however, was in another place. Let me be completely honest with you. My heart was definitely not skipping a beat nor was I jumping up and down with excitement.
Why, you may ask?
Well, first of all, I had never done such a daring activity. Moreover, I have become afraid of heights in the past years. Isn’t it ironic for someone who is completely happy flying at 30 000 feet? 🙂
I was really anxious and nervous since I had never done zip lining in my life and I was not probably the most enthusiastic person of the group. People could see my long face and how serious I was!
I was simply PETRIFIED! I was literally shaking even before going on the first zip line. You know, I had never felt this way in my life and I didn’t like that feeling…AT ALL!
All sort of silly things raced through my mind. Things like:
“Great thing that you bought travel & life insurance before leaving Canada girl!”
“What if I fall? What a great way to end your days Karla!”
“What if people laugh at me?”
“It will probably be my last stop, my last adventure”
I really had to snap out of my thoughts and really see this opportunity as a challenge and unforgettable experience!
We left our belongings (my backpack with my camera and other things inside) on the tables. We were guaranteed that they were safe, so we just trusted them.
Next, we proceeded to put our gear on: helmet and harnesses in order to make it across the 1st platform.
I saw everyone go one by one to the other side and decided to be the last. Go figure.
I didn’t know then that the other local guide who helped me prepare for the trip was going to be a key figure and great supporter throughout the tour. The man looked like someone who considers the forest as his second home and to make me laugh and ease the tension, I was told that his nickname is Rambo. Oh dear Rambo, he may seem scary at first but one should never judge a book by its cover right?
He said: “Oh we have more to cover (I’m a big mama!) but don’t worry, we’ll take great care of you and just have fun OK?”
Then I was finally ready and stepped on the platform. Joe prepared me for the first ride and he said “Go”. I just had to release and let go indeed!
Now for those of you who have or haven’t gone zip lining, you go so fast on the line that everything just rushes by and my heart was about to burst so I let out a scream obviously. What I was mostly afraid of was not being able to stop and slam head on the tree so I mistakenly touched the line with my left hand & Rambo yelled out at me:”Karla, don’t do that. You’ll hurt your arm!” I obeyed and I was quickly approaching the platform and I told him to stop me and he said: “Don’t worry, I got you! Everything’s going to be ok!” So I had no other choice but to trust him and I had to bend my knees to slow down and he was there with open arms to grab me and once he did, my first reaction was to take a deep breath and my eyes simply swelled up and filled with tears…of relief!
I told you I had never felt that way so it was like a fight or flight reaction! The nice couple from Houston, Texas who arrived before me cheered me on and said that the worst part was over! I received a pat on the shoulder and then Rambo came to see me and looked at me straight in the eye. He said: “Karla you can do this, you are safe and we are here for you! You just have to trust us and let fear go!”
You know? That went right straight to my heart and from then on I couldn’t help but change my attitude, kick fear in the face and let my demons go. Knowing that there were a dozen more lines, I simply had to have faith that everything would turn out just great and have some fun. After all, am I not the one encouraging everyone else to go on adventures anywhere in the world and follow my own or unique experiences? I just had to practice what I preach right? 🙂
So you can only imagine that the next line was going to be far easier and I’m happy to report that my change of heart and mind made things WAY better! What a notable difference…night and day as they say.
Standing on a platform, high above the forest is just impressive. How on earth did they plan the entire course and how long did it take for them to build and secure each and every one of them?
Although our group was small, we were united in this and we encouraged each other.
As you will see in the following pictures (captured by amazing photographer Alejandro Marten and his assistant Kara who accompany groups during tours and they also go zip lining ahead of all visitors!) my expression and feelings completely changed and became lighter and actually started having fun…and LOTS of it 🙂
Getting ready to roll…the pros do what they do best and clearly are the best at what they do!
Rappelling was intimidating at first but actually it it’s not that hard…except the part where they let the line go, it’s a surprise but quick drop that makes you scream 🙂 Bah I knew that Rambo was standing on the platform while Joe released me and I knew it was safe to go!
Before the drop
Next thing you know you land softly and quickly on the platform, you’re still buzzing and your heart goes back to where it belongs!
It’s not over yet, oh no. Before you is a suspension bridge which can be quite a physical challenge to stay in balance. To make things more interesting, the guides shake things up…literally. They move the bridge with their feet so you have to stay focused and go across!
How did I do? What do you think?
I was so pumped up and super happy that I just encouraged myself: “You go girl! See that was easy. Keep going…you got this!”
Can you believe we only had one last line to zip? Hey the fun had only begun and really started to enjoy it!
This was the last capture and you can see that I couldn’t stop smiling, I LOVED the feeling of euphoria, pure adrenaline, heart racing a hundred miles an hour, excitement, freedom, living life to the max and complete gratitude that I made it safe and sound in one piece (without even being afraid of heights) back to where it all started?
One last smile for the camera on the last ride? Absolutely 🙂
As I crossed the last line, I enjoyed the last minutes to breathe in pure oxygen, observe details of the rich, green and vibrant vegetation; I couldn’t help being in awe before such spectacular panorama. I could see the restaurant and Rambo waiting for me and felt a little sad that it was coming to an end.
I set foot on dry land, mother earth once again and what a relief! We removed our gear and went straight to get a glass of cold water.
I didn’t tell you that being in the middle of the jungle means being in the heat right? Well, I couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom to change clothes which I did.
Upon our return, the kind ladies from the restaurant had prepared typical Costa Rican food, fuel to recharge batteries!
What did we have?
Rice, black beans, braised chicken, salad and a refreshing (and very welcomed) iced tea. Que rico, yum! That really allowed us to replenish our energy after an intense workout!
While we were enjoying our meal, we were able to see the photos that Alejandro and Kara had taken of our adventures on the TV screen.
At the end of our tour we had the option of buying a package of 10 photos and a short video but all is optional. I saw that mine came out great after all, so I did sign up to pay for the pics and receive them later via link by email!
I had a few minutes to speak to the unsung hero of the day, Rambo and I started asking him all sorts of questions (I’m very curious you know).
He told me that he grew up in the area and knew it like the palm of his hand and the many activities offered by the company allowed him and the staff to be employed.
He truly enjoys meeting people from all over the world but he felt a bit sad that he did not speak English which would allow him to communicate better with them. However his dynamic personality and charm need absolutely no translation 🙂 The man is a rock star!
I thanked him again for helping me become stronger and for being such an inspiration. I learned a lot of important and necessary lessons that day!
There was just one thing left that I needed to see after all those wild rides. Little did I know that they saved the best for last.
Rambo took me to the Butterfly Garden and I was able to see my favorite animal, the Blue Morpho.
That was one of the happiest moments EVER! Everything I had experienced earlier was just worth living and this was THE sign that everything is going to go great from now onwards.
I felt so much joy in my heart and so much gratitude. Right there and then I just knew I was in the right place, right time and was thanking the Universe for having offered me that incredible opportunity.
I am also sure someone, whom I loved dearly but is in heaven, would have been very proud of me. It’s definitely what I needed to feel fully alive!
If you are ever in Costa Rica or in another exciting destination where zip lining is offered, go for it! If I was able to do it and succeeded, so can you 🙂 It is a great activity for people of all ages and all walks of life.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Parador Resort & Spa and Quepos Verde Aventura for organizing this unforgettable experience on my behalf. It was life-changing, transforming and healing all at once!
I invite you to learn more about Canopy Safari and follow them on their Social Media Channels
I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure!
Now tell me something,
Have you ever gone zip lining?
If so, where was it and did you enjoy it?
If you haven’t, would you love to try it?
I want to read all about it and how did you overcame your fear.
Until next time, Hasta luego!