My heart is frantically beating like the finger of one of those world war two morse code messengers while I stand on a wooden platform in a tree that seems to be a mile off the Rainforest floor. I realize the climb was deceptively easy as the tour guide led us up the winding hiking path continually talking about the many trivial facts about the rainforest and Costa Rica. As we ascended the mountainous terrain, I must have felt myself getting winded, but I believed it was just the majesty of it all that took my breath away. Of Course, standing on a wooden platform nestled around the base of what seems to be a hundred millennia old tree with only a few well polished two by fours between me and the ground some five hundred feet below quickly make me feel as though my lungs can’t get enough oxygen. It’s slightly comforting to know that if I did slip some of the trees below would break my fall, so at least there would be a chance of survival.
But only slightly comforting.
I look out as the lady in front of me is lightly pushed off the platform and she goes into “superman” position immediately dropping a good foot or two and gaining steady speed as she starts her kilometer long decent above the rainforest. She doesn’t scream. I don’t understand why she doesn’t scream, is everyone not as terrified as me? Did she not think this was a terrible mistake? I watch her pick up speed, continuing down the zip-line’s path occasionally passing through trees and tuffs of smoky fog. I see her arms and legs splayed out like a cross between a superhero and a flying squirrel when and it dawns on me that she is flying, that for this moment in time she is like Wonderwoman watching over the denizens of this jungle. Her arms and legs remain spread out in superhero fashion as she disappears into the mass of trees off in the distance.
I panic suddenly and tug at the harness around my upper legs and stomach. I know it’s secure; it’s been secure since the guides in charge of the canopy tours strapped us into our gear at the beginning of the hike. Still, I make sure they are as snug as they can get, I even do a couple of squats just to make sure I have mobility in case…just in case. I hit my helmet and move it side to side to ensure it’s on tight just as the guide at the zip-line receives the okay via radio that it’s my turn to go. I look around and realize that I am the only one left. I stop like a deer in headlights. No, worse than a deer in headlights. There is no expression for my moment of frozen standstill.
The tour guide, thank his little heart, smiles kindly and tells me, “Its okay, really, you don’t have to go, we can walk you back down and see if we can get you a partial refund on your…”
I feel foolish, a grownup and acting like a small child, so I cut him off abruptly and say, “No, I’ve got this.”
I check to make sure my ipod is secure in my arm strap and put my ear buds in their place. The soothing sounds of Yo-Yo Ma’s cover of Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold help relieve my anxiety. I take a step toward the zip-line and the guide. He fastens my upper body clip to the zip-line followed quickly by the clip that is attached to the harness around my waist and upper legs. After shortening the strap from my waist to the zip-line, I’m parallel to the platform.
I’m in superman position.
I close my eyes. My heart is pounding. The music is soaring. The cello is singing its beautiful tune my ear, the crescendos building furiously, elegantly as my heart increases its meter.
Then I get a push.
And I’m flying.
The air is rushing around me as the cello frantically builds up its tension, and I open my eyes to see trees rushing beneath me. I feel better than any super hero and far freer than any bird. I feel as part of the Rainforest as the rolling fog wandering through its flora.
I see some birds gliding near the tops of trees and feel like I am a part of their kingdom. As I pass through trees I take a deep breath and fill my air and nostrils with the freshest air i have ever experienced. The sky seems open and alive even more than the wet dampness of nature closer to the Rainforest’s floor.
I realize that I don’t want this moment to end, and wish I could just play it on repeat forever. I feel ridiculous for having been scared of something so absolutely liberating.
I’m nearing the platform that ends my wondrous flight. I close my eyes one last time in order for the sensation of air and of invisible wings and of the slightly damp smell of the rainforest’s pure nature filling my nostrils to be burned permanently in my synapses. All the senses colliding together in harmony in one long glorious moment.
Two of the tour guides gingerly brace for my entrance and cushion my landing. They quickly unclip me from the harness and in a manner of seconds my feet are standing on a sturdy platform once again. I realize my body is shaking, and I can’t stop smiling as they unclip my top harness from the zip-line.
After I take a few wobbly steps I shout out to no one in particular, “That was awesome!…Let’s do it again!”