Early on Saturday, the next morning, I meet the other people on the tour to Monteverde, to participate in the eXtreme Canopy Tour of the cloud forest there. They're French, from a University (I think Toulouse University) which has sent them to Costa Rica for a month to study agriculture. There are two guys and three girls, all of them 23 years old. I ask them how they feel about doing this tour and one of them, Virginie, claims to be afraid of heights but wants to do something to combat this fear. I wholeheartedly agree, and tell her that my inkling is completely spontaneous. I mean, would I have planned this a month ago??
The ride to Monteverde from Fortuna takes approximately 3 hours and we're traveling in another one of those "shuttle" buses. On our way around Lak Arenal, we encounter howler monkeys and the guide stops so that we can photograph them. There are wonderful views of this biggest lake in Costa Rica and as we climb northeast, the countryside differs and many of the hills sport coffee plantations. We stop for a break in one of the towns around; it's not Santa Elena, I think. I get a coffee and spill most of it on my t-shirt because the drive is pretty bumpy. Most of us are relaxed. Virginie and Chlorissa seem to be a little disturbed...
We arrive and check in, and they all choose the "Superman" stunt, meaning that when they come down on the last cable run, they'll have their arms spread and their feet behind them, instead of hanging on to the harness and cable with feet crossed in front. Ok. We get a quick run through of how to brake, stop, and travel and we start the climb to the first cable. It's not terribly far away and I learn that I must not brake too soon. The next run is done with two people and is easy. After every run you have to climb more and more steps to get to the ensuing cable. I find myself huffing and puffing yet able to take the next two runs, but on the subsequent run, I realize I have climbed over 300 steps and am, consequently, t-i-r-e-d. So, I said to the guide, "I don't know..." and he said, "If you want to stop, now is the time to do it, because the path to the Lodge is the shortest here..." "Fine. Yeah, I think I've done as much as I can..." So the guide lowers a rope that is hanging over a branch in one of the trees, saying that we can go "this" way. The only problem is that the rope has a noose tied in the end of it!!
After I get out of the gear, I wander over to the Restaurant and look for something to drink and am surprised to see a beer in the fridge, so I, of course, get one. I notice that the driver of our van is asleep in the vehicle. It's only a few minutes more and I hear the first of the rest of the clan starting to come in... I rush over and get a couple of pictures and congratulate them. They are all starry-eyed! I explain that I gave out around the half-way mark, but I can't explain what it felt like soaring over the tops of the trees way below... at least a thousand feet!!
Standing in the reception area, the person at the desk who could not speak English, passed by me and muttered, "Chicken!"