The cloud forrest. It sounds like a level in MarioKart, doesn’t it? I left the entire planning of the trip up to my very type-A, very responsible friend Linzi. It was kind of like going on a blind date with an entire country. I didn’t know what to expect…would I like it there? Would I be bored? Would it like me? Is it safe? How soon is too soon to start taking pictures?
So, it was to my utter delight when we arrived in Mindo. It certainly earned its name as the cloud forrest; as soon as you begin the long, leisurely ascent up the mountainside, the clouds settle in like a couple of college kids watching a LOST marathon, and soon the sun is almost completely hidden, adding to the dreamy feel of the place. I had never been zip lining before, but figured if I was going to plummet to my death from 100 feet above, this wasn’t a bad place to do it.
Before we could risk our lives ziplining, however, we had to risk our lives on a somewhat rickety contraption designed to take us from one side of the mountain to the other. “There’s no road,” our guide told us (he would soon become my nemesis, the joker to my batman, the dwight shrute to my jim halpert, the hatfield to my mccoy, but that’s another story). We climbed aboard and away we went. Here’s what it looked like to us. Sailing away, way above the treetops, you kind of get an appreciation for modern technology like cars and bridges and sea tbelts. At the same time it was exhilarating, feeling your heart thump wildly in your chest, knowing that if even one cable breaks you’re a goner. Soon enough we were on to the other side, and I found myself looking forward to taking the aerial gondola back, just to feel that rush again.
Once safely docked, we headed toward our ziplining adventure. Compared to the tottering cable car we had just ridden on, the belts, hooks, gloves, safety wires and helmets seemed a bit on the cautious side. As we made our way onto the first ledge I saw what looked like a massive scout troop behind us, a tiny army of 10 year old boys making their way down the hill, to start their own ziplining tour. KIDS, I yelled, and we all ran toward the ledge, scrambling to fling ourselves into the unknown, knowing that if there is one thing scarier than whipping yourself through the air on a cable wire, it’s pre-pubescent american boys.
The zipline guides walked us through the entire course, hooking you in, pushing you off, giving you pointers and making sure everything is copacetic. They were amazing. Hilarious, patient and kind, they started us off on easy maneuvers, reassuring us that abuelas did this all the time, we had nothing to worry about. UNLESS YOU PUT YOUR HAND ON THE WIRE. I jumped off the ledge, bouncing low enough to almost touch the ground, but the wire yanked me back up and over the cliff like a trampoline with a mind of its own. Soon I was gliding through the cloudy air, the treetops whizzing past my shoes, the cold mountain air rushing my face, trying to remember what the guide had said about my hands and the wire. In what felt like seconds I was on the other side, another tour guide catching me as I came in for the landing. We hiked up a little more to the next ledge, hooked ourselves in and flung ourselves off into another part of the forrest. The entire course was comprised of 12 zip lines of varying degrees of height and length of ride, so we spent the next two hours hiking up, hooking in and then zipping down. It was glorious.
As we made our way through the different lines on the course, the guides introduced us to new maneuvers, which had names like superman and bowling ball. As we neared the end, one guide asked if I wanted to do the butterfly. Of course I wanted to do the butterfly. It sounded so elegant, so graceful, so peaceful. Before I could say olvidalo (forget it), he had flipped me up side down and spread my legs part. “Foto!” he yelled to Linzi, who very happily obliged as I hung there, feeling about as comfortable as I looked. After the picture, he pushed me off, and I have to tell you, this upside down thing was pretty amazing. I felt very bird-like as I soared through the air, the only thing bringing me back to reality was when, for some reason I felt the need to spit. Probably the same reason I spit from the top of every tall building I’ve ever been on. This time I was upside down and gliding forward, so as soon as I spit, it came back and hit me in the face.
Turns out I’m pretty similar to those 10 year old boys I was running from.
Even the saliva incident couldn’t dampen what was a great day. As I landed on the final ledge and climbed down, I saw some of the boys who we had encountered earlier. “Don’t spit while you’re doing the butterfly,” I almost said, but didn’t. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.