Today, after a great breakfast, we all got on the bus and headed along the same rutted road that took us past the national park entrance and on to the Sky Trek Zipline adventure. The road went up a side of a steep mountain and we slowly climbed through the jungle, catching glimpses of Lake Arenal, which is the largest man-made lake in Costa Rica. It also supplies about 30 percent of the country’s electricity! We all got harnessed up by the staff, fitted with helmets and headed out to a small demonstration zipline. There, a guide by the name of Drexel showed us how to brake the cable with the hand pulley while spreading our legs apart to land on the platform. He also taught us how to get ourselves to the end of the line by pulling the cable hand over hand backwards, which thankfully no one had to do. We then got into some cable cars and ascended to the top of a mountain. The cars were like miner cages and we could view the forest below as we headed up. “What do you think of the ride,” Drexel asked Aine. “Not too bad,” Aine said, much to the amazement and laughter of everyone on the car (pretty non-plussed for someone just a few days shy of her second birthday).
Several other guides were on hand to help us prepare for the zip line adventure. We took a practice run of about 20 yards, one after another. Drexel was like a drill instructor, yelling “Spread your legs!” in mock exasperation. He would shake his head and then call the next one up.
Everyone was ready for the first line, which happened to be the longest and highest in Costa Rica. As soon as my turn came, I clipped on and with the guide launching me, zipped for what seemed to be a quarter mile of pure exhilaration. I swung above the rainforest and the wind roared along with the whine of the pulley on the cable. Too soon it was over, but another line awaited. That one was even steeper and faster than the last one. We all pooled up as we arrived and got ready for “Speedy Gonzales” which was the fastest line. As we waited for others to complete the last run, I spied a monkey in the forest. We all looked at it as it foraged on the ground. The next run was even more exciting as some low clouds were coming across the zip line. It was really cool to watch our party head down the line and see the cloud curl around them as they sped through. The next lines were tandem, and our group got to race each other. That brought us to a way station, where we drank fine Costa Rican coffee and admired the view of Lake Arenal. Then it was on to the last line. I talked a bit to Samy, one of the young men who were assisting us with the harness, as I was the last one of the group to head down. I told him how beautiful his country was and how great it was to visit it. “I love my country,” he said with a great passion. “I love your country too,” I said. Hearing a young guy half my age talk about how proud and happy he was to be Costa Rican made a great impression on me. Annie and Aine were waiting for the group back at the base. We had a great lunch of fish, beans, salad and rice, shaped like a volcano with little lava flows of carrot slivers on its side. Arenal Volcano was starting to warm up to us too, with the clouds slowly giving way, revealing sunlit slopes. Every ten minutes or so, it seemed like the summit would reveal itself and our group would rush out from the meal to attempt to get a picture, but it kept its face hidden from us that afternoon.
Once we headed back to the hotel, we were amazed to find that it had hot springs of its own! So part of our group headed to the pools, and some took to the mud baths, while some went to the spa to get massages. The rest of the afternoon was lazy and relaxing after the thrill of morning. That evening, we had a beautiful dinner of locally caught snapper. Brian and I got up and performed a welcome concert. Maggie joined us on “In My Glory,” and Jo Warfield played on her ukelele a Bob Dylan song to our accompaniment. It was another full day and between the excitement, relaxation and the friendliness of the local staff and people, our group had fallen in love with Costa Rica.
Click here for Day 2
Click here for Day 4