Starting the Costa Rica Adventure With a Boost of Adrenaline!
I decided to start my Costa Rica trip with the most dangerous, most adventurous activity I could find (not really, that was actually a total coincidence, but it worked out well)! I contacted Bex Paragliding pretty last minute, crossing my fingers in the hope that they would have a spot for me. What better way to see Jaco Beach than free flying through the air?! To my delight, they were able to fit me in and I was totally ready to take to the skies! Well, “totally ready” might be a bit of a stretch, but I was definitely very excited.
The take off location was very close to Jaco Beach and we found it with no trouble at all. Of course, being me, as soon as we parked I was looking all over for interesting plants and critters and even managed to see a strikingly beautiful bright blue bird fly by while we waited.
I watched in fascination as my guides got me all harnessed up and prepared the equipment for our flight. When I took a look at the website (remember, I did this all very last minute…), it seemed like we would be doing a tandem flight strapped to a set of landing gear that looked a bit like a tricycle – a little scary, but perfectly safe! My anticipation was building as we pushed our flight time due to rapidly changing winds. I was beginning to think we may have to push our flight to a different day when suddenly they called me over. I got strapped to my fantastic guide and then heard something along the lines of, “Okay – see that rope tied to us that’s attached to that truck? When the truck starts driving, just run along behind it in a straight line.”
Wait…WHAT?! Where is the landing gear? Suddenly, it occurred to me that we were going up with no mechanism for landing. No biggie, right? I’m sure these guys know what they’re doing!
We took off running behind the truck as our chute filled with air behind us and, suddenly, we were in the air. We were attached by a rope to the truck, barreling down a dirt road and flying high. It was really very reminiscent of parasailing – the feeling of flying, but firmly tethered to something – when all of a sudden, my guide pulled a cord and we were released from the truck! We were free-flying, with no landing gear, with ever-changing winds.
I have to say, it was a combination of many feelings – awe for the beauty of the landscape below, sheer terror because I still had absolutely no idea how we were landing, gratitude for the skill of my guide as he constantly adapted to the shifting winds, a bit of pride that I actually had the courage to do something so crazy, and, if I’m being honest, a bit of mild motion sickness!
I spent the first fifteen minutes or so still not knowing how we were landing this rig and intermittently wondering if I was about to break my legs. Sure, I could have just asked, but who doesn’t love a good surprise? The beauty all around distracted me from my potential impending doom as I free-floated through the skies, safe in the expert hands of my guide.
After about twenty minutes of sheer joy mixed with mild terror I was told, “Okay, we’re about to land. When I say so, put your legs straight out in front of you. I’ll land and then you stand up when I say so,” and in we came, with no broken legs to speak of!
Although this adventure was a bit outside of my comfort zone, I think that’s often where the magic lies in life – just on the edge of where we would normally push ourselves. I work on a risk versus reward system and this was absolutely far more reward than risk. I spent the next week recommending this excursion to literally anyone I could find – an absolutely thrilling experience and an adrenaline-pumping way to see the beauty of Jaco.
So here is my advice to you, fellow adventurers (or potential future adventurers) – don’t let fear stop you. If you see something that pulls you, that whispers to your heart, “…let’s try…”, just go. There’s a pretty decent chance you won’t regret it and even if you try to push past your comfort zone and don’t enjoy yourself as much as expected (which was definitely not the case here as it was way cooler than I could have imagined), at least you’ll always have an awesome story to tell!