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My First Zipline Canopy Tour

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“You mean, why don't I want to hurl through the rainforest hanging from a wire? Oh, I don't know, let me think,” my mom asked me the night before the canopy tour. Hysterical is a strong adjective; perhaps you could say she was resolutely defiant.

She'd scheduled the tour days before, when we first arrived in Jaco (the trip was her graduation present to my sister and me). You couldn't come to Costa Rica, we were told, without doing a zip-line. The exhilarating practice, which dates back hundreds of years in places like China and England, was reinvented by graduate students in Costa Rica during the 1970's before being adopted by shrewd businessmen.

The Los Sueños Canopy Tour consists of a tractor ride up the mountain and then sends participants down 13 zip-lines through the canopy. Above the canopy. One of the lines, we were told, passes between two ridgelines. Upon breaking out of the forest the trees shrink away into the chasm and, if you open your eyes, you are allowed a heart stopping view of the forest, the town, and the sea. 
My mother was told this before she booked the tour.

It's funny; as long as there are around 72 hours between a person and his object of fear, that person seems to assume courage lies waiting in some temporal nook. (The same can probably be said of motivation and a deadline). So The Moms was blithe and uncaring as we rolled through the forest on ATV's, toured the national parks, and learned how to surf. It wasn't until the day before, with less than twelve hours until the tour, that mom's fear of heights began to growl; she looked worried.

The three of us were sipping wine and I asked her if she was excited for the zip-line.

“I think I'm going to pass.”

“What? Why?”  And then she started with the rhetorical questions.

We let the topic go until the next morning, when my sister and I joined forces to bully our old lady into taking the tractor to the top of the mountain (this is cruel. Please don't bully your family members into doing things that make them uncomfortable).

We got lucky for two reasons; one benefit was that our grandmother had done the same tour the year before and had loved it. The second reason was that she had too much pride to return with the tractor at the end of the ride. Our group was relatively small but we had an older woman, an overweight man, and two small children already in their harnesses putting on the leather “braking” gloves.
Mom giggled nervously.

“I hate you guys,” she said through her teeth.

We laughed at her. At least our guide, Diego, was reassuring. “You'll love it. There's absolutely nothing to it.” 

He took us through the safety procedures in English and Spanish, asked for questions.

Question: “You use adverbs better than I do, where did you learn English?”
Answer: “Mostly at the tour.”

If you're worried about communication barriers, the tour guides are language savants and you will have no problems. Anywhere. Honest.

Somewhere in the middle of the tour mom put on a grin that she couldn't seem to take off. Part of it was the safety. Not only were we always clipped onto the line, we were always double clipped. After the first section, the word “accident” wasn't even bouncing around her head. The wildlife was grin inducing, too. Because we went in the morning, when the weather in Jaco is a little cooler, our group spotted a group of tucans as well as a sloth.

Also, although we couldn't spot them, we heard a group of howler monkeys in the distance (an impressive sound, if you've never heard a howler monkey). 
In the end, she didn't even have the dignity to be sheepish about her enthusiasm. Feasting on complementary fruit bowls before our shuttle back to the beach she looked to us and said, “well, so when are we doing that again?”

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