Zipping Through The Forest Canopy

Trip Start Jan 15, 2013
Trip End Jan 27, 2013

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today was an exciting day. First on the agenda was zipping through the canopy of the tropical forest here at the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Then there was a horseback ride to the hot springs, frolicking in the volcanic mud, and finally a long soak in the hot spring water.

We were asked to be at breakfast at 6:15 in order to leave for the starting point of the zip-line by 7:00 am. Wind was the major concern. When we went to bed last evening the wind was howling like a banshee. When the wind is high, the zip-line does not operate for safety reasons and the most likely time to find calm weather, which we did, is early morning.

Upon arrival at the zip-line facility, we met our guides, four very fit looking young men who seemed to know what they were doing. They outfitted us all with harnesses, safety lines, heavy gloves, a big silver pulley apparatus, and helmets. Then we set out on a 20 minute climb to the first of ten platforms that we would visit by way of a very small, but what we were assured was a very sturdy, steel cable.

The head guide provided a demonstration and brief instructions. Some of the important items were to always keep one gloved hand on the wire and to keep it behind the pulley where it is to be used as a brake. We were told to never, never touch or adjust our supporting harness. If there is a problem we were to seek assistance from one of the guides. Braking was necessary between some of the platforms in order to keep from coming in too fast and slamming into a tree. Braking was done by pulling down on the steel cable with our gloved hand. The gloves we were issued had a heavy strap of leather across the palm. However, if we braked too much we might stop midway between the two platforms, and it would then be necessary to use a hand-over-hand technique to complete the journey to the platform. Finally, we were to bend our knees and keep our feet crossed at the ankles to prevent our legs from banging into the bottom of the destination platform.

With our minds churning to assimilate all these instructions, we climbed up on the first platform, had the safety line and our pulley system hooked to the steel cable, and off we went. It was difficult that first time to step off of the platform and go whizzing through the tree tops. Some of us could not forget the fact that Wikipedia says that a zip-line is sometimes referred to as a "death slide." Soon, however, we were able to relax and enjoy the adventure. By the time we finished traversing the ten platforms one of us thought it was great fun and would do it again in a flash. The other one of us was glad for the experience but would probably not sign up for another round.

The other big activity of the day involved horseback riding. The Buena Vista Lodge keeps around 300 riding horses, and when we came back from the zip-line experience, sixteen of them had been saddled up by the wranglers and were ready to go. The wrangler selected a horse for each one of us. This time Rafael was our primary guide; it was quickly apparent that he is an excellent horseman. After some safety instructions, we set off at a slow walk towards the hot springs, which were about a one-hour ride away from the horse corral.

The ride was uneventful, peaceful and enjoyable. Lana's horse, Marileta, was gentle, responded very positively to her, and wanted to be at the head of the pack. Bob’s horse was much more content to bring up the rear, which was fine by him.

At the springs, which are near a fumarole, a thermal vent in the earth’s crust, we were first led to the sauna where we were instructed to stay for at least ten minutes to open the pores. Then we visited the volcanic mud pits. The mud was quite warm, hot even, so we carefully dipped it out and slathered the mineral-rich mud all over our bodies. After covering ourselves in mud, we were decorated with crowns of leaves and flower petals. It was quite hilarious to observe all of us covered with mud and wildly decorated. It looked as if we had all "gone native." Rafael used our cameras to take pictures of all of us. It was so outrageous, several members of the group made a point of telling Bob that he definitely did not have their permission to publish their mud-covered bodies, so we are only showing one picture…Bob’s.

Once the mud bath was completed we washed it all off under a very cold-water shower and then raced to soak in the hot spring water. It was the end of a very busy morning. After lunch, some of us took a nap, which was the first such opportunity on this trip.

Late in the afternoon we all gathered again to watch the sun go down again over the Pacific Ocean. It was just as beautiful as yesterday. Dinner tonight was a buffet where we indulged in a fish soup, a buffet of various salads, sea bass, a beef dish in tomato sauce, various vegetables, and of course rice and black beans. We finished the meal with a delicious flan. It was the end to a very good day.  
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Jane Leff on

QUITE a DAY!!! Very brave, you are, and you both look quite happy.

Kathi C. on

Oh my - I think you are much braver than I! I think I would have enjoyed the horseback riding, though. All the food looks delicious!!

Nancy on

Wow!! Hats off to both of you for being so brave. I'm afraid I wouldn't have been such a good sport at the zip line. I would have met all of you at the buffet table after a nice, long nap. Congratulations on your adventures. You're both doing all of us senior citizens proud!

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