It wasn’t until I was flying upside down over the treetops that I really realized how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and do something as incredible as ziplining through a rain forest.
Looking out my hotel window to the view of palm trees and crowded streets, I thought to myself, another day here in paradise. I could feel the sweltering heat from inside my hotel. Cars were backed up bumper to bumper, and I could smell the congestion of traffic. I could hear parents speaking to their children in some language that was foreign to me. The diverse culture I was looking out at was remarkable. For breakfast I had pineapple juice and some beans, rice, and eggs, a traditional breakfast in Costa Rica. Today I would be stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something that I had never done before.
We boarded the bus to soon embark on a journey like no other.
“Today we will be going to Alligator Valley then ziplining,” announced our tour guide.
After a draining 45 minute bus ride, we arrived at our first destination. I excitedly skipped off the bus and put my camera strap around my wrist. I walked as slow as a turtle across a narrow bridge next to cars zooming past me. I didn’t want to fall over the highway railing into the Pacific Ocean.
After a few minutes, we had finally arrived to the sight of over one hundred alligators laying out on the shore.
“What am I even looking at!” I screamed.
My grandma and cousin were in awe. I put my neon yellow waterproof camera in my hand as I held an umbrella in my other hand. It was pouring rain, but this was no surprise because I was touring during the rainy season of a tropical country. I zoomed in on the alligators and took many pictures so I could reflect back on this unusual site. However, looking back on pictures is not the same as experiencing something first-hand. Although I am terrified of alligators because of the stories I’ve heard on the news, this site that I was standing above was incredible.
After observing the alligators for a little while, we headed back to the bus.
“That was quite the view. I can’t believe what we just saw,” my grandma said.
“Wasn’t it bizarre?” I responded.
As we drove off passing many outdoor restaurants and tiny shops, I stared out my window absorbing the culture. Finally, we arrived at the ziplining site. My cousin Lexie and I were greeted by nice ziplining guides.
“Come over here so we can get you all geared up,” they instructed.
We followed them over to get into our harnesses and the instructors buckled them, making sure they were secure, as our lives depended on it. I then put my helmet on and boarded a wagon to be driven hundreds of feet up the mountain.
When we arrived at the top, I looked down at the breathtaking view. I was standing on top of a rainforest overlooking the bustling city and vast ocean. I listened to the instructors go over the rules.
“Holding on isn’t necessary, relax and let go for a more thrilling ride!” exclaimed the instructor.
One by one we got in line to go on the first zipline. After a nerve-racking wait, it was finally my turn and I was ready to take the plunge. The instructor connected me to the zipline with metal carabiners that didn’t look very supportive, but I was told they could hold many elephants.
I jumped off the platform and was suddenly racing through the air. I shouted on the top of my lungs, “This is awesome!”
My voice echoed across the entire rain forest.
I hung upside down for a minute and was able to see the country from a bird’s-eye view. During that short minute, I saw little shacks serving as homes, endless amounts of trash filling the streets, and children playing in a dangerous environment. Looking at the world upside down provided me with an entirely new perspective of life. I grasped how different everything is in a third-world country and how thankful I should be for my life in a upper-middle class community. Ziplining was one of the most remarkable things I have ever done; I loved the feeling of weightlessness while swinging through the air. I will always cherish my trip to Costa Rica, but more specifically, this moment hanging upside down on the zipline.