Bird of Prey... Flying High

Trip Start May 07, 2010
Trip End May 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
Pension Santa Elena

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Monday, May 10, 2010

If you don't recognize the title of this blog entry, I pulled it from the song lyrics by Fat Boy Slim's "Sunset".  This day just fit those lyrics for me.

The day before, with the help from Diego, one of the hotel staff members at Pension, we scheduled 2 tours.  The first tour (which actually wasn't one needing to be scheduled, one simply shows up at the park)  was supposed to be an unescorted hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve at 6:15AM, the other, a zip-lining tour at 11AM at the privately-owned Selvatura Park.  Needless to say, we missed the hike due to last night's shin dig and instead took our time waking up then eventually having breakfast.  Breakfast was at the little restaurant next to the church.  Two ladies basically ran the kitchen there.  Since no menus available were available for some odd reason, Rowena and I asked for a typical breakfast using incomprehensible Spanish and sign language.  What eventually ended up in front of us was 2 tamales, a pineapple yogurt drink, and later, some taquitos buried under lettuce drenched with ketchup and mayonnaise.  With the exception of the taquitos, everything was delicious.

11AM eventually rolls around and the Selvatura shuttle bus appears in the hostel lobby ready to shuttle us to the park.  Selvatura Park is privately owned unlike the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which is owned by the government, and offers adventure tours from zip-lining to canopy bridge walks to escorted hikes.  It is also situated in the Monteverde area.

One of the first things we had to do in preparation for our zip-lining was to don on the provided harnesses and helmet.  Standard equipment for this sort of thing I suppose.  After completely suited up, we took some photos, and I immediately recognized myself to appear exactly like a Japanese construction worker.  Lord, I looked silly!  From here it was a short hike to the platforms.  The tour consisted of 14 zip-lines with an estimated completion time of about 3 hours.  I'll tell you right now that this was the epitome of our trip.  Let me try and explain...

Zip-lining in general can be great fun.  However, zip-lining in one of Costa Rica's premiere rain forests is nothing short of spiritual.  And the way the lines were setup at Selvatura were perfect.  Very high...  in some cases, through the tree canopies... and some over great distances!  The misty weather also played a key role in making the perfect day.  But before I go on, let me introduce to you some of the people in the group that Rowena and I went with:

- Ike and Thomas, 2 of the nicest guys in the world.  They were the lucky ones (or unlucky ones depending on your perspective) to go first;
- Christian and Sylvia, a sweet couple from Germany who we got to know a bit more later in our trip;

The rest of the group was nice as well but I just didn't have opportunities to talk with them as much.  We were focused on the zip-lines afterall. 

The second thing we did besides putting on the required equipment was to get a 10 minute training session on how to zipline.  To put it in a nut shell, one is too take your dominant arm and place it on the cable behind your head.  Position it as far back as you can comfortably to prevent you from spinning.  Your second hand is to grab the tether from your waist to the cable.  Cross your legs and hold your knees up high to center your body in the harness.  To brake, one would simply press down on the strong arm resting on the cable.  To stop immediately, two hands on the cable may be necessary.  Besides that, hang on, say your prayers, and scream like a little baby!

Now about the actual zip-lining experience.  Not to sound so "conventional" but it was as if I took some peyote, transformed into a macaw, and soared through the rainforest, just above the canopy.  My beak being lightly pelted by the misty rain.  Swooping at a good clip for a couple of minutes then slowly descending to the next branch.  It was that and much more...  the intangibles of the experience are inexplainable.  Mother Nature gave us a gift that day and embraced us twice around.  For 3 solid hours it was like this.  If I was struck by lightning right after this, I would've died a happy man.  Put this activity in this particular place high on your Bucket List folks.  You won't regret it.

One of the more memorable ziplines was actually so high that it rose past one of the park's canopy hanging bridges.  In fact, there were people on that bridge that looked like miniatures.  They turned around as I was ziplining, taking pictures and waving.  I waved back, momentarily removing my hand from the cable and almost started spinning. :)  That was magical.  One of the last lines was also fantastic, spanning over a huge valley.  The distance for that particular line was so long and so high, that we had to double up on it.  That is, two people had to go at one time to provide enough weight to counteract the winds.  Regardless, when Rowena and I went (with a combined anorexic weight of 250lbs), the cable started to sway mid-way through our run.  It was a bit scary but FUN!

Wait there's more...  the cherry on top of the sundae was a "Tarzan swing".  It was basically a nylon rope that you clipped to your harness tied to a tall tree.  One would jump from the platform and swing until you were slowly decelerated to a stop.  Without any hesitation, Rowena and I went for it.  For my turn, the instructors on the platform yells out "wait, wait!" seconds after he directed me to jump!  LOL... sick bastard.  That litte dirty joke added to my horror as I felt my stomach turn inside out, escaping my body through my esophagus.  Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic, but it was crazy scary for a few seconds.

After the zipline tour, we headed back to the hostel at about 3PM.  Had a great dinner at Super Pollo El Pueblo (a place we were shying away from for some reason), across the street from the hostel and called it a night.  We were supposed to share war stories with Greg that evening, and actually spotted him at the hostel lobby.  But he looked like he was deep in conversation with someone and didn't want to bother him.  He did tell us that he had a 6-pack ready to go the next day.  Darn.
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