Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Costa Rica: Canyoneering

Bright and early the next day we loaded into Desafio's van for canyoneering, which is hiking and rappelling.  Mike and I had done some rappelling before with navy stuff, so we weren't complete novices, but no experience was necessary.  Several girls in our group were terrified at the idea, but the guides talked them through it and no one is ever forced to go through with it if they change their minds.

Safety was always the primary concern, so you wear a helmet, harness, and have 2 safety lines when you descend.  If you've never been rappelling, you'd be amazed at how easy it is.  After looping everything through D-rings and creating a pulley effect, it's takes almost no effort to hold yourself up.  It's like holding a gallon of milk against the small of your back.  Maybe even easier.

I'd go as far to say the actual scariest part is turning your back to the edge of the platform and then leaning backwards, but if you focus on the rock wall in front of you rather than what's behind (nothing), it helps.

Yes, Mike and I are aware we are blindingly pale people.  It comes from that whole Swiss, Irish, and Scottish gene combination.

It turned out there was no way not to get totally soaked on this excursion as well.  First there was a place where the only way down was to cannonball into a deep pool.  Then you had to walk in knee or waist deep water in several places.  Then there was the "Costa Rican Shower:"

After all that down stuff following waterfalls, we had to hike back up, but we had the promise of lunch to motivate us.  We had a chance to dry off and change into dry clothes we had brought with us and then have another "typical" lunch with our choice of beans and rice or rice and beans.  Meanwhile the camera team with us downloaded the photos they had taken into folders we could buy on CD- ours had 275 pictures.  They often shot them paparazzi style, so if one had you blinking or at an unflattering angle, another in the same location probably provided a better take.  Again, there was also a folder of natures shots, these were different from the ones on the rafting disk.

On the way back down to the vans (via 4 wheel drive trucks) we got a chance to chat with some of the guides about their jobs.  As tourists, sometimes we felt weird coming into a country like this, as if we were some rich, foreign invaders that were just tolerated for the money we brought.  But they all said they loved what they were doing as they got to meet new people and the money was good plus rappelling is always a good time.  Most of them were taking a couple years to earn money for themselves or a sibling to go to school.  They generally felt lucky to have the opportunity to make a better-than-average living through all the tourism.  Maybe they were playing it up a little as employees of the company- it's not unlikely they were told to answer those questions that way, but the sentiment seemed pretty genuine.

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