We started the next morning with breakfast at the main lobby of our cabin/hotel. The hotel breakfast food was pretty unremarkable. But as I ate, it slowly began to dawn on me what this day had in store for us.
Brian had booked us all spots to go bungee jumping later that afternoon. I had never been bungee jumping. I had never even WANTED to go bungee jumping. And now here I was, on top of a mountain in Costa Rica, trying to prepare myself for what was about to happen. I wasn’t scared yet. I was still mostly in denial. But I knew it was only a matter of time before the reality of the situation hit me.
We checked out of the cabin and drove slightly down the mountain to our next hotel. I use the term “hotel” loosely. Most of the places we stayed had a main hotel lobby, but separate unattached cabins nearby to stay in. It was still very early in the day when we arrived, so our cabin wasn’t yet ready. Fortunately, the hotel attendant let us leave our bags at the front desk as we went to find lunch at a nearby restaurant. I had delicious quesadillas. Mike also had delicious quesadillas. I shudder to think of them now. Those quesadillas would come back to haunt us later.
After lunch, my nerves were beginning to hit. It was almost time for our adventure. We drove back to the hotel lobby and a big van came shortly after to pick us up. It had a bungee jumper painted on the side and the words “Monteverde Extremo Bungee” were written across it in big letters. I followed my friends into the ominous van and realized that it was actually happening.
Time began to slow down with my growing anticipation and dread. The van made several stops along the way, picking up different groups of people. I initially assumed everyone in the van was also going bungee jumping. However, it turned out that this company offered a lot of other activities besides bungee jumping. Some people were going ziplining. One lady said she was going to do yoga, and proceeded to tell us how insane we were for going bungee jumping. I couldn’t argue with her, I still couldn’t believe I was about to do this.
The van finally arrived and dropped us off at Monteverde Xtreme Park. It was becoming real now. The room was busy and chaotic. There were many different lines of people at the front desk. We waited in our line for a while before we got to the front to sign the obligatory liability waivers. I was struck by the stark contrast between the 20 page skydiving waiver in the US and the half page bungee jump waiver in Costa Rica. This made me slightly nervous, but my decision to take the plunge had already been made. There was no room left for doubt.
They split us up by weight and gave us colored wristbands. Omnia and I were smaller and we got blue wrist brands. We now called ourselves “Team Azul” for the rest of the trip. Mike and Brian, with their red wristbands, became “Team Rojo”. The four of us walked along a curving path which led us down to the edge of a very large canyon. Very large thick cables stretched across the canyon from one end to the other. These cables supported the tram from which we would be making our bungee jumps .
There was a pretty large group of people standing at the edge of this canyon next to the tram. As soon as we arrived, the attendants quickly began fitting us in harnesses. I was relieved that Team Azul was going to be the first group to go. The anticipation was killing me. I wanted to jump immediately, before I had time to talk myself out of it.
Omnia and I climbed into the tram, along with a third guy whom we had never met. Ever so slowly, the tram began to move forward, pulling us away from the safety and security of the solid ground. We waved goodbye to our red wristband friends, and slowly our tram crawled further over the giant chasm. It hung suspended from large cables that stretched across the giant mountain valley. The wind began to scream at us as we moved out into the open air, and the great green lush valley opened up beneath us, threatening to swallow us whole. As we moved ever forward, the tram began shaking violently in the howling winds. The two bungee attendants were now standing at the edge, sorting a tangled mess of ropes and clips. Nothing about this seemed like a good idea.
I was lucky. I got to jump first. I didn’t want to see other people jump before me, it would only amplify my nerves. I walked up to the edge and the attendants put a helmet with GoPro on my head. The tram was bouncing back and forth in the roaring wind. I stood stiff as they rapidly began attaching all sorts of ropes and metal clips to my harness.
Everything was happening so fast. I couldn’t think. It felt unreal. Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to jump off this tram, into this lush green valley in central america?
Hell yes I was!
I realized this could be the last thing I ever did. I made peace with myself. I made peace with the universe. And suddenly, the two attendants were counting down.
“Rapido! Three, Two, One, GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
There was no time to think, or hesitate, or second guess. They said “Go” and the next thing I knew I was tipping over the edge of the tram. It all happened in slow motion. There was a rush of wind. There was a moment of a confusion. And then there was only silence. Time slowed down to a complete stop.
The next thing I knew, I wasn’t falling.
I WAS FLYING!!!!!!!!
The entire world around me was gone. My life. My job. Even all my friends waiting up above me vanished in that rush of air. Now it was just me, floating, flying, over this incredible green valley. This was the most free I had ever felt. Time paused to a complete stop and all I could do was register this incredible sense of joy and freedom. I thought it would never end!
What felt like hours later, time kicked back in.
I felt a strange stretching sensation. The bungee was pulling me back up. Then it was dropping me back down again. Up and down. Up and down. I was hanging upside down, suspended by my feet, swinging back and forth through this green valley.
The attendants, still standing in the tram high above, slowly lowered a rope down towards me. My entire body was flushed with adrenaline. I was trying to grab the rope but I couldn’t reach it . The bungee cable was starting to spin me around in circles, faster and faster. All the blood was rushing to my head. I felt dizzy and disoriented. Finally, I was able to grab onto the rope, but I struggled to latch it to the carabiner as i kept spinning. I became nervous I wouldn’t be able to be pulled back up. What if i got stuck here?
Nope. After a few frustrating attempts, I got the rope latched onto me. I sat up a little bit to stop the blood from pooling to my head as they slowly raised me up. I was finally able to look around in awe and take in the incredible views of the valley I had just bungee jumped into.
Finally, I was climbing back into the tram.
“How was it?” Omnia asked me.
The adrenaline was coursing through my blood. “THAT WAS AWESOME!” I exclaimed. I had just conquered a huge fear. I had just done something that I thought I would never do in my life.
And I loved it!
Omnia went next. Still flushed with adrenaline, I sat back with a grin and watched them hook up all the ropes to her harness. Then they began to count down. I noticed one of the attendants put his hand near her back, as if he was getting ready to push her if she hesitated. That was funny. He didn’t know that he was dealing with a badass. Omnia jumped with no hesitation, and when she was back up, we were both high on life. The third guy went while Omnia and I giggled in the tram about our bungee jumps, and then the tram brought us safely back to terra firma.
There was a long wait before Brian and Mike could go. Unfortunately, Omnia and I couldn’t ride in the tram with Team Rojo. We had to wait and watch from the edge of the valley. But even from the edge of the cliff we could hear Brian and Mike’s screams of joy and exhilaration as they both took their turns bungee jumping from the tram. They loved it just as much as we did!
The four of us spent the rest of the day high on life. It was early afternoon and we had just accomplished something incredible. We had no agenda for the day and were able to spend the afternoon and evening exploring the town. We got some food at a taco joint, we visited a unicorn bar, and we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. Life was good. Life was very good.
Until the food poisoning finally kicked in.