Thursday, 17 October 2013

Exploring T&T: My Zip-Lining Adventure

Zip-Lining: Terrifying, Exhilarating, Liberating, Amazing

I’ve wanted to go to the Zip-Lining facility at Macqueripe, Chaguaramas, since its inception. I figured that it would be a new and interesting experience, and provide me with a chance to conquer my fear of heights. Thus, when I learned that the Rotaract Club of Sangre Grande Central had planned a trip to the facility, I knew that I had to be involved. Basically, I did go, and it was everything I expected and more. This post details how it all went down.

It was a sunny, Sunday afternoon, and I was seated in the Zip-ITT Office at Macqueripe Bay, reading a waiver and giggling. The source of my giggle was a sentence that outlined a number of risks associated with zip lining that the company was not liable for, namely scrapes, scratches, bruises, debilitating injuries and death (yes, they appeared in that order). Although reading those words rattled my nerves even more and made me question the necessity of the day’s activities, there was something dark about them that I found hilarious.

Once the waivers were signed, we were ushered over to an area where we were suited up. We were given two harnesses; one went on like a diaper, the other, like a vest. Both came with several clips and other gear used by mountain climbers, I assumed. Then, we were given a hairnet and helmet, and a pair of smelly, heavy duty, construction gloves. The overall look not only exacerbated the size of my stomach, but left my nether regions residing in close quarters. 

But, why she watching me cut-eye, though?
Next, we were given a crash course in “How to Zip-Line without Dying 101”. I really wanted to return to Sangre Grande that evening, so I shushed my cousin and gave the two instructors my undivided attention. There was a lot of information to process, but the instructors interspersed it with a few jokes, which helped to make me less nervous. I'm not going to go into all the details, but the instructions basically revolved around how to position your hands when zipping, how to slow down, and the proper way to approach the platform as you're coming in. With all the bases covered, the moment of truth had arrived.

To reach the first platform, we had to climb four flights of stairs. We did so in single file, and I expertly placed myself at the back of the line as my stomach did somersaults. The fact that a quasi thunderstorm came out of nowhere as the third person from our group zipped into the trees beyond did nothing to alleviate my trepidation. I started to think about my science classes in Secondary School, where I learned about conduction and looked to the skies for any sign of lightning.

Before I knew it, it was my turn. My legs felt like jelly as the guy hooked me to the zip line. My heart thumped wildly in my chest as I was ordered into the sitting position. My armpits started scratching as I said a silent prayer. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let go. As soon as I did, I opened my eyes, looked around and started screaming at the top of my lungs. The line seemed to hum as I zipped at the speed of light to the second platform. The screaming didn’t stop, but my fear was replaced by exhilaration and joy. I felt so liberated, and as I slammed into the padding around the tree trunk, I started laughing hysterically. The platform monitor looked at me, like I was crazy, but the adrenaline left me laughing as I moved on to the next part of the course. 

Part of the zip lining experience involves crossing these canopy walks. I remembered the term “canopy” from Form Two Geography, and was therefore, not surprised to see that the “walk” would take us from one tree to another, and involved crossing a net bridge with a plank down the middle. I HATED every moment of it! The breeze and the movement of my body caused the bridge to sway from side to side. To keep my mind of it, I looked straight ahead, and slowly made my way across as I hummed, “Royals”.

Le Canopy Walk. Scary!
There were five more platforms and four canopy walks to complete before I got to the last zip line. Nothing much happened except the fact that I slammed into the padding of two more trees at high velocity. Apparently, I didn’t see the guy on the platform signalling for me to slow down. In fact, I slammed into the second tree so hard that my legs straddled the tree trunk, which prompted one member of staff to ask if my "jewels" were fine. Oh, I also missed one platform and ended up stuck and panicking over the forests of Macqueripe. I had to turn around and pull myself to the platform. That was hilarious!

On the second to last platform, the instructions got a bit complicated. We were to zip slowly to the tree marked with the red flag, and then, go faster. As soon as I let go, I knew that I was going to be in trouble. I forgot how to go slow, and instead, went faster and faster and faster. Then, I also forgot to extend my legs, so when I crashed into the padding, my left ankle hit the edge of the platform. It hurt so much that I yelled out, thinking that it was sprained.

While I was having my ankle examined and stretched, I was told that my crash was so resounding that it shook the platform and caused the rain droplets to fall off the leaves of the tree. It was so loud that several patrons looked up in alarm, wondering what went wrong. Of course, the adrenaline was still coursing through my veins, so it wasn’t until I got home two hours later that I started to feel the after effects of being George of the Jungle for an hour. 

Overall, it was an exciting adventure. My only gripe would be that it should been longer, but I definitely recommend you all to try it out. If I can do it, anyone can.

Until the next post!