on this blog in March, 2005, about an adventure in Nicaragua:
The distance from Granada to the Mombotour canopy adventure is said to be eight miles. It was the roughest imaginable 45-minute drive. Shocks in the Land Rovers last maybe four months; tires make it close to six sometimes. When we finally reached our destination we were decked out in the climbing gear. Tom Sheriff, Rotary District 5790 Governor, always thinking of ways to raise money for worthy projects, wanted to know how much I'd pay to keep my picture private. I grinned and told him I was going to post it myself. Little did I know at that time how much thinking and deciding it would take to put the picture up and tell the related story.
The web site says the minimum physical requirements are:
Well, I flunked. I did okay swinging from tree to tree three times. It was the climbing of the ladder that started out difficult, especially after I reinjured a knee getting out of the Land Rover, becoming close to impossible by the top of the second ladder. Never one to give up, I had every intention of going on, remembering the wise advice of Bryan Bradbury that "Sometimes the best way out is through." The Nicaraguans, however, thought differently, and they showed me how I was going to rappel down from the fourth tree.
- Able to walk 10 minutes to the entrance of the tour.
- Strength and mobility to climb up a 50-inch wide ladder for 35 feet.
- Must fit safely in the harness as determined by the accompanying guide.
Mad? Yes. Embarrassed? Absolutely. While I don't watch the Survivor TV shows, the words "kicked off the island" rattled about my head as did "You're the weakest link." With the passage of time, I know the right decision was made. I will, however, redouble my efforts to lose weight and to climb the stairs to my 5th floor office daily (when that knee heals again) and one of these days I'm going to go back and fly through the air, yelling so loud the monkeys come to check me out.
I think, had I realized there was a zip-line option on the cruise I just returned from, I might have used that jungle rather than the Nicaraguan one. But I did something equally as tough - I think - and I did it just fine, though not without needing help, not without being scared most of the time. That was climbing Dunn's River Falls at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
I know it wasn't something miraculous, that lots of people do it daily, that the guides there bounce around over those rocks with the ease of those monkeys I wanted as witnesses. I know my feat was a feat only because it was mine. But it felt like a vindication. I had to have help, I clutched tightly to the proffered hands of those before me and behind me in the line of climbers, but I held my own, I helped almost as many times as I accepted help. I did it. And in my own mind, in my own history, it will remain a milestone, a vindication. I will never be precisely the same person I was before last Wednesday.
The next day I snorkeled, getting my head down and looking at the fish beneath me. I wished later I'd gone farther and looked more, but I did it. I kissed a stingray - though the guide told me that wasn't where I was supposed to kiss. But heck, the top of the head is kissing a stingray just as much as kissing the part in front that looks like a mouth but isn't one.
I have moved forward in so many ways these last few years. I thank all those who went on the journey with me - in Texas and in Nicaragua, Jamaica, Grand Caymans, etc., etc., etc. Thanks for welcoming me home, for making me feel like I belong in this world and you are my people.