I'm not afraid to admit that I hate heights. Yes, ladders, balconies, even those harmless steps that have grating for the flooring and you can see below - yeah, I hate all of those. I must also admit that I had no idea that I'd be attaching myself to a thin wire via velcro straps and hurdling my body over a cliff. What I thought I signed up for was a pleasant, almost ferris wheel-like ride (yeah, I get freaked out in those too) that was going to take me up the side of Arenal volcano so I could take some pictures. Up until a few hours ago, I didn't know what a "canopy tour" was - sounded to me like a nice jeep ride, maybe a few monkeys and lots of beer. No wonder the guy at the tour place didn't laugh when I said, "make sure the cervesa is cold!"
With much excitement, I agreed to partake in Costa Rica's famous Sky Tram and Sky Trek tour, here in La Fortuna. The Tram part is the slow moving cable car and the Trek part is a mind-blowing, rapid descent into nothingness. It had all of the characteristics of being sucked directly into hell via some expressway (fast, fear, heat, sweating, screaming), just with no flames. I never screamed myself by the way. How could you when you are not in taking any air in?
Now, let me say that you can, however, take the tram up, take pictures and then take the tram back down. The only condition is that the staff gets to dress you up in an oversized chicken costume and you have to cluck all the way down. I was considering this option until I overheard one staff member say, "we should put this on youtube".
Besides, as a wedding photographer, I'm constantly climbing ladders, leaning over railings and generally self-imposing tiny heart attacks throughout the day, so stepping up and, well, jumping over is just another small victory for Steve.
So, what am I uploading? Well, thoughts of my children and wonderful wife often passed through my mind as I waited my turn for Trek el Terror, and I thought, maybe I should turn on the video function on my Canon 5D MKII, so if this line should break, and really, who's not thinking about that, at least there's a chance that my camera may snag on a branch as I hurdle to my death and my survivors would hear my final thoughts.
At this point in the tour, I had already did a few "zips", my pounding heart, sweaty hands and greasy face were proof of that, and surprisingly, my wits came about just as we approached the heightest zip line. 200 metres or 66 stories above ground. Yes, over tall skyscrappers just like Superman! Speed? Well, for most 55 miles per hour but the guy said that the bigger you are and the better your technique, the faster, so he guessed maybe 65 miles per hour for me (NOT surprising, my technique was excellent, I listened to every word they said, double-checked everything and asked the most questions!)
So, as I stood up on the platform, my camera simply dangling by my side, I pushed record and let her fly. It was always my intention to trim the beginning so you just get the "ride" but completely by accident you can hear me say, quite nervously I might add, "Lordie, Lordie, Lordie..." Yes, even after several zips, I was just as freaked out as the first one.
Oh, and the comment about the "big guy coming down" was because on the last zip they had me wait a second because the guy below wanted a second to get ready for me (they stop you at the end).
And finally, I was with a wonderful group of people and they all got a huge kick out of seeing me fly in! (if you listen carefully, as soon as I "land" you can hear the staff guy say "you broke the record, that was really fast!" and ask for a high-five!) so I went last so they could watch and take photos! And why are they calling me Robbie when my name is Steve? Well, someone wanted to know my name (I was still up top coming down) and someone else said I was like the big brother from Everyone Loves Raymond, Rob was the character's name and moments later I became Robbie!
Would I do it again? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Should everyone try? Sadly, yes.