MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica — Breath, in and out, in and out. I can do this. Wait, is this equipment safe? How high up am I? Are my guides trained properly? And why did I agree to go zip lining, 600 feet high in a jungle in a foreign country?
I keep thinking “positive thoughts,” but visions of my childhood flash through my mind. First, I am on family vacation walking across a rickety wooden bridge in south Missouri. The boards creak beneath me, and I can see a river rushing below. In short, I am terrified of falling.
Next, I am on my preschool field trip to the Daviess County Courthouse. The entire class is walking up the worn steps to the bell tower on the top floor. Except for me. I am carried by my teacher. Walking up the steps is fine, but looking at my possible doom below is another matter.
Then I am in the St. Louis Arch for a high school tour. The 630- foot structure sways in the wind, and the arch seems move underneath me. The “Gateway to the West” is the gateway to my fear. I may be a teenager, but the thought of plummeting to my death still frightens me.
Suddenly, I am back to reality, standing on a zip-line platform in Monteverde overlooking the cloud forest. I am harnessed to a cable that extends over the 1,200 acres of the Selvatura Adventure Park. I am about to fly over two miles of zip line.
Luckily, my guide, Adrian, has seen customers with my fears before. I am literally shaking, praying and almost crying before him. He distracts me with jokes and friendly smiles.
“Don’t worry, I will make sure you make it to the other side,” Adrian says.
The helmet is on my head, shoes are close-toed and my long pants are still attached to my waist. I prepare to fly.
As instructed, I lean back, cross my legs, extend my right arm behind the zip-line cable and attempt to relax. Adrian gives me a push. I glide along the cable and manage to open my eyes and stifle my screams as I take in the beauty of an aerial cloud forest.
Somehow, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s infamous quote rings through my head: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Right now, I am fearless and zip lining across Costa Rica.
Yet, this is just zip line number one. There are 13 in my tour. One down, 12 more to finish, and a fear of heights to conquer.
— Breanne Brammer