“Andale, andale” Manuel shouted; awakening our horses from their peaceful saunter up the Costa Rican mountainside, into a determined gallop. Certain I would topple off my horse and somersault into the rocky ravine below, I fought the urge to shout “Enough with the andales” and forced a smile instead.
Months earlier, I had been helping Eugenia plan her Costa Rican wedding and we had both agreed that any excursion would have to be a relaxing one; hot springs, mud-wraps and manicures.
Maybe it was the poolside caipirinhas or the thirty-five degree heat that affected my better judgment, but somehow I had found myself on a horse hurtling towards a zip-line canopy in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. This was not my idea of a relaxing vacation, but tradition dictates that if you are the Maid of Honour in your friend’s wedding, the word “no” has absolutely no bearing until after the ceremony.
Seeing how uneasy I was, Manuel, our instructor, tried distracting me with a Spanish lesson mid-jaunt. “Repeat after me” he said, “Mi nombre caballos es Coron.” By this time, I could see the zip-line on the horizon and had left most of my language-skills back at the stable. I couldn’t remember how to speak English, let alone mumble a Spanish expression which seemingly meant “My horse’s name is Coron.” I pretended I didn’t hear him, which in retrospect was a terrible idea as our silence was abruptly foiled by another devastating round of “Andales!!”
I was content to stop riding as we approached the canopy. Dusty, perspiring and mildly traumatized, I was handed a harness and a pair of gloves with a leather strap sewn into the palm. The gloves reminded me of something used to handle birds of prey, which I assumed could be entirely possible considering how close to them I’d be traveling soon. I swung around to see Manuel and Coron heading back down the mountain and wondered how fast I could run in a harness.
Forcing myself to the edge of the platform, I gazed across to the next canopy and tried to calculate its infinite distance. I listened for instructions and before I knew it, I was gliding through the Costa Rican jungle hundreds of feet above the ground. The wires hummed as I floated past avocado, banana and orange trees. I hovered above melon and sugar cane fields and by my third trip, my speed had rivaled that of a bullet. I could not however, outpace the Amazonian creature who decided to hitch a ride on my shoulder, causing a moment of panic as I wrestled with the primeval insect mid-air.
One bug bite and an hour of extreme sightseeing later, I had survived flying through the jungle across ten zip-lines and was back on solid ground. Thankfully, Eugenia had kept at least half of her pledge and we ambled in the direction of a hot spring complete with swim-up bar. This time however, I decided to opt out of the caipirinhas…