Or Maybe Only Day Of Slight Rest
19.11.2011 - 03.12.2011 30 °C
Every Wednesday here at Surf Simply is a staff day off. Considering that the guys here work six days a week in one form or another, I think we shall allow them a day off every now and again! However, the guests aren't left entirely to their own devices. There are a range of excursions available to choose from that help to pass the day. The first week I had elected to go zip-lining through the jungle. I had a few preconceptions about this and in my mind I thought it would be something similar to GoApe back in the UK. I was quite a long way off the mark with this idea though.
After breakfast, all of us participating in the zip-lining (every single one of the guests except two) were taxied over to the main office of the Miss Sky Canopy Tour company. Here we were all fitted out with harnesses and safety helmets and signed a waiver of questionable legality. It was at this point that I discovered that I'd left the memory card from my nice shiny camera in my laptop from the night before. Luckily, I had also packed my pocket camera, so at least I was going to be able to get a few snaps in, although as of writing this, I've not been able to transfer them to the computer to see how they turned out.
As seems to be the way here in Nosara, the guides and office staff were incredibly relaxed and certainly didn't seem to be in a great rush to get things moving. Eventually though all tour participants were herded towards what can only be described as a cattle truck to be ferried up to the zip line course. This journey should have taken about twenty minutes to make but, as should have been expected, the inevitable happened and our overly-large taxi failed to make it up one particularly wet and muddy track.
Everyone piled out of the lorry and started walking. Luckily we didn't have to walk far before a second truck turned up being driven by a couple of our guides. This truck however was even more unsuitable than the last, in as much as it wasn't meant to transport 20+ people. While the lorry had just about had enough room for everyone, this new form of transportation was more like a pick-up truck and clearly carrying this many people had never been in the design specs. The guides actually ended up having to hang off the back of the pick-up. I wish I'd been able to get some pictures of this but hanging on for dear life seemed more appropriate.
Eventually we arrived at the our destination, atop a mountain near the coast. There was a spectacular view back towards the ocean, and with a bit of luck, once again I'll have a photo of this when I return home. We were then shown over to the first zip line and this is where my ideas concerning GoApe evaporated. For those unfamiliar, GoApe are obstacle courses in the canopies of forests around the UK with the occasional zip-line thrown in for good measure. Well, the experience here in Costa Rica does away with any kind of climbing in trees. Instead, they have essentially strung zip lines between mountains! The first line, as an example has you gliding several hundred feet above the jungle below for nearly a kilometre, and this is just one line of about twenty.
I had actually considered buying a helmet camera prior to coming out here (I'll be getting one for my next snowboarding trip), and I now regret not having done this, as it was impossible to use a camera while on the zip lines, mostly due to the thick leather gloves that we had to use as brakes. This means that, once again, I have to use my somewhat inadequate grasp of the English language to convey the experience and rather sadly, I can't really think of anything remotely realistic to compare the whole thing to. But I can imagine, and my mind suggests that Superman must get a similar feeling whilst he is flying, minus the overly-tight-in-the-wrong-places harness that I was wearing (instead replaced with overly-tight-in-the-wrong-places outside underwear). Breathtaking doesn't even cover this.
After a large number of lines, there is a change of pace. The guides remove everyone's harnesses and it's time for a short jungle trek. At this point the guides get to have some fun with everyone. You're told that the group should stay together as they are jaguars and pumas in the jungle. This is somewhat hammered home by the fact that a couple of the locals are carrying machetes on their belts! This puts everyone in a slightly nervous frame of mind, and it's this that the guides make the most of by playing practical jokes such as throwing large rocks to make the undergrowth crash and jump, walking up behind people and grabbing the backs of their legs etc.
The short trek through the trees ended at a jungle water fall and splash pool, ready for a spot of cooling, jungle swimming. I'm pretty sure I managed to get a few snaps of this on the pocket camera so we will see how they end up. Sadly, this wonderfully idyllic setting was somewhat spoiled by turning 180 degrees and finding a decrepit JCB slowly rusting away.
Walking back up to the final zip-line, the guides played their biggest joke. About half way up, they said they were going to show us a hummingbird nest. This, unsurprisingly, had everyone's attention being paid somewhere roughly half way up a tree, which then led to quite a shock when a gorilla (read: man in a mask) came charging out the undergrowth. This earned quite a few screams from the women on the trip and more than a few chuckles from the guides. And of course, there never was a hummingbird nest.
One final zip-line and we ended the jungle-top-tour with another scary ride up some mud tracks in the pick-up truck. We (relatively) swiftly returned to base camp, and from then on our day was our own. I personally spent it chilling by the pool and snapping a few photos from around the resort. This was a nice relaxing change of pace and gave me chance to recharge my energy levels before heading back out into the water the following day
EDIT: Some photos of the zip line experience can be found on the company's website (Miss Sky Canopy Tour). Sadly, they aren't of my trip in particular, but they do give you an idea of the experience.