Okay, so it wasn’t actually, technically, a bungee jump. It was awesomely better!
Even before coming to Costa Rica we’d been looking for a good place for me to do a bungee jump. The best one we located was an hour outside San Jose and cost $60.00 for one jump off of a bridge over a river gorge. Fine, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of time for 2-seconds of abject terror.
So since we’re here in Monteverde anyway, I asked around and heard about a Mega Tarzan Swing that is a hybrid—part long freefall and part rope swing. Better yet, it included zip lines and a Superman ride just fifteen minutes outside of Monteverde for $40.00. I say any time you can save money on being miserable, you ought to.
Tammy went along as a witness, not particularly eager to join in the lack of fun, but willing to take pictures, which is more of a challenge than flying through the jungle. Turns out the signage for trails to pic spots isn’t that great.
We got lucky and had a Norwegian family of three in our group—Mikkel & Lene and their 5-year-old son Sebastian--as well as a physiology professor on sabbatical from his college in Seattle. They were all so much fun that we’d have paid $40.00 just to get to talk with them, then gone home the richer. But no… I had to check one more thing off of my list, and the sooner the better.
We got harnessed and then had a brief demo of how to ride on a zip line. How to hang on, how to brake, and how NOT to get your fingers chopped off by the pulley, which would have been memorable but not all that enjoyable. I didn’t know when I signed up for the tour how much fun we were going to have riding ever longer zip lines ever higher in the trees before we ever got to the bad part. If I’d known, I could have looked forward to it.
The first line was short so we could get the hang of it. The 12th cable went almost a half of a mile and a couple hundred feet off the ground, which gave the illusion that the trees had gotten a lot shorter. All of that was interrupted by one brief rappel during which one of the guides controlled the speed and got quite a kick out of just sort of dropping us to the ground. It was such a surprise that I let out a yelp that I wasn’t proud of. It just sort of came out.
The zip lines concluded with a “Superman” during which we were suspended laying flat under the cable and putting our arms out like…yes…Superman. It was an incredible half mile ride across a valley several hundred feet in the air. The only scary part was leaving the security of the platform, but once I was in flight, it was totally cool.
And then it was time for the Super Mega Tarzan swing. Like I said, it wasn’t a bungee jump because it wasn’t on an elastic band. Instead, the idea was to step off of the platform, fall 148 feet and then convert all of that momentum into a swing with a 295 diameter arc out over the treetops. If that sounds relaxing, I haven’t described it quite right.
Dave the professor went first, but only because he thought if he waited he’d chicken out. He walked the plank, so to speak, along a suspension bridge that wobbled and swayed. Then we watched as a guide strapped him in. All I can say is that when he stepped off the end, it wasn’t comforting. We couldn’t see him, but he sounded just like a man being executed painfully. The rest of us looked at each other dubiously, but 5-year-old Sebastian went next and when he didn’t make a peep, we were all irrevocably committed to follow suit.
I can’t say I know how it feels to march toward your certain death, but this had to have had some similarities. The whole length of the platform, as I walked uncertainly against the wobble, I kept thinking that this wasn’t something I really wanted to be doing. To have done, yes, but not to be doing. And then my stomach clutched when I reached the end. It looks a lot higher from the top. Darn that 5 year old!
Our guide was all business like, as if he were preparing my body for lethal injection. Straps here, more straps there, a safety line in case the regular line broke—WHAT! IN CASE THE WHAT BREAKS?!
“You’re okay,” he said, tugging on a couple of lines so tightly that they pulled me forward toward the edge, which I wasn’t really ready for. “I’ll hold on to you for a couple of seconds and open this gate. Then you hold on to these two lines and step off.
It was nothing but awful. I don’t care if everyone knows it—there’s something gut wrenching about stepping off into the void. I didn’t hesitate because I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t. When he said go, I went.
The worst thing about spending that much money to do something like that is that you don’t remember it. I wanted to carry with me forever the feeling of plunging 120 feet in a free fall, but all I remember is yelling uncontrollably and hitting the end of the fall, when I was hurtled out over the trees at a hundred miles an hour. And that’s when it was suddenly and unexpectedly fun. Instead of bouncing at the end of the line like in a bungee jump, I swung wildly back and forth a few times with the wind whistling in my ears, making happy noises now and exulting in the fact that I don’t ever have to do that again.
When I finally got stopped and the guide unhooked me on terra firma, I was shaking like a leaf. Those who went before were clearly still recovering, a triumphant bewildered look in their eyes. The man from Norway said that’s the most his son has ever heard him swear. It’s just too much adrenaline all at once, I think.
We decided that since we were all bonded and stuff, we should celebrate life by going out for lunch in a little hole in the wall restaurant that Tammy and I had heard of. There we spend two hours chatting about the world, eating real “Tico” food, and swapping contact information. Someday we’ll have a reunion and all jump off a chair in our living room, which frankly makes a lot more sense.
If you’re ever in Costa Rica, I highly recommend this outfit, “100% Adventura” at montevideoadventure.com. It’s the most alive you’ll ever feel for the money.
Bungee jump. Check.
Fri, November 4, 2011
by Ron Snell filed under