July 25, 2011

Ziplining Volunteers in the Amazon


By Debbie French Bodkin as originally posted on her blog.

We spent a quiet night at the Tahuayo Jungle Lodge in preparation for our first day of work.  Day 1 started very early, 5:30 am and we were off hiking through the jungle to get to the zipline. 


Yes, it is a work day, but we got up early, so we could play before work.  And, play we did.  After getting on our harnesses, we had the choice of using ascendors to pull ourselves up to the platform or letting the guides pull us up.  Needless to say, I took the easy way up. Which really wasn't that easy for me, as I have a terrible fear of heights.
(That's me taking the easy way up)


(Justin and Shannon chose the ascendors)


As we get to the top platform setting 100 feet up in the canopy, our wonderful guide Christian smiles and says " I hope no one is afraid of heights".  I meekly smile and say "well, yes I am terrified of them", but I can do this.  His response is "no worries, just trust me and trust the equipment".  Yes, he seems very confident and comfortable up here.  I am certain that everything will be fine.  The view is mystical as we look through the early morning haze. 


(We all make it to the top)
(A quick hug for my son, just in case I don't survive)

One by one we go to the edge of the platform and are securely attached to the zipline by a carabiner.  The first couple of people make it successfully to the next platform.  No screaming, no bodies dangling from the zipline....all good things for me.  As I sit on the edge (not looking down), Christian again speaks to me in that comforting way of his. He gently reminds me that he will count to three and I just need to slide off the platform and the zipline will do the rest.  And, if I don't go on the count of three- no worries- he will just give me a shove.  This was just what I needed to hear to make me laugh and to decide that I would rather gently slide off the platform on my own.  I closed my eyes, said a short prayer and leaning forward went zooming across the zipline. 
(Yes, it's me and I didn't even scream)
                              
I opened my eyes and on the platform waiting for me were my friends and my son.  Looking ahead and around (but never down), I was taken with the view and the beauty of the moment and forgot all about how high up I was in the canopy.  Next  platform, no problem just watch me go.


(Justin waiting at the platform)


  (Anthony on the zipline with our kind guide Christian behind him)
                   
Back on the ground, we hiked very quickly back to the lodge.  The boat was already loaded and waiting for us as we were 30 minutes late returning.  Luckily for us, we were in South America where 30 minutes late really isn't late at all.  So, after an exciting start to the day, we were finally off to work.

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