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There's Life And Then There's Living

By: Barbara Sloane

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com


I was dangling from a steel cable suspended high above the jungle canopy in Puerto Vallarta. As soon as I'd say the word, my guide would unhook me from the brake that kept me tethered and I'd fly 200 feet above the dense green Mexican rain forest on a 2,000-foot-long zip line. And -- comforting thought -- after this I would only have 11 more zip lines to go before I could once more board the 4x4 off-road truck that brought me here and return to my hotel to collapse (faint?) in bed.

I who, unfazed, tell anyone who'll listen that I'm "hardwired for cowardice," had absurdly signed on for Vallarta Adventures whose tag is "One of the greatest adventures on earth," and, fingers-crossed, I hoped to live to confirm this claim.

Nothing Adventured, Nothing Gained

I was visiting this magical town with a group of happy, devil-may-care, let's throw caution to the wind, fellow travelers who somehow coerced me into going along with this madcap plan. Shortly after signing the form that released the company from any responsibility in case of injury or death (!), I found myself speeding across the bay in a small boat, arriving at a jungle outpost, then hiking along a dusty path to my next ride, a small brown mule who ambled up and down steep paths until we reached the aforementioned off-road contraption.

Donning helmets, we then careened along dirt roads with gargantuan boulders and cavernous holes until we reached our final destination hidden in a virgin tropical forest in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Looming before us, the zip line platform that we were expected to ascend, assisted by young, muscular, bemused guides who feigned patience as each of us took our turn on the platform and stood gaping at the ominous view below.

Wheeee, I'm Flying, Sort Of


Suffice it to say, throughout this adventure I never came to truly love those 12 zip lines. Although my guide explained how to hold onto the line above me, I couldn't master the light touch it required. This meant that mid-way, say 1,000 feet along on the line, I several times inadvertently stopped myself and had to be rescued, a guide coming out from the landing to pull me onto the next platform. After the second rescue, I gave up being humiliated and just let it happen. Lest you think that all we did was zip line, nooooo. This was only a part of our adventure. This 6.5-hour escapade also included rappelling down a sheer cliff, through a waterfall, right into a natural river pool (getting thoroughly drenched in the bargain) and traversing swinging rope bridges.

My trepidation aside, I've got to admit that this was one of the highlights of my Puerto Vallarta visit. After all, 90% of the adventure was up in the treetops, offering a unique perspective on an area of unspoiled, rich ecological beauty. Due to a fantastic and very competent staff of good-looking young men, after my first zip I always felt safe; excitement and butterflies were there, sure, but not fear. By the time I returned back to my hotel and replayed the day in my mind, a rather nice feeling overwhelmed me -- that of being fully alive and empowered!




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