ZIP LINING IN THE CARIBBEAN
If you follow us on Facebook, you saw the photos we posted yesterday of Barcelona, our Destination of the Week. Our new ship Riviera sails on her christening cruise just one month from today, and the christening ceremony will take place in beautiful Barcelona. Marina also arrived in Barcelona this week after her Atlantic crossing, leaving the lovely islands of the Caribbean and preparing to explore the historic shores of Europe.
As Blogger-at-Large, I was able to enjoy Marina’s final Caribbean sailing of the season, and everyone onboard came home with fond memories and fantastic photos. As Marina bids farewell to the Caribbean seas, I wanted to share one of my favorite adventures from that cruise.
We saw so many beautiful islands on that sailing that I couldn’t possibly choose my favorite. And while I savored every minute on the pristine beaches next to impossibly blue waters, one particular excursion on this cruise offered something a little different – zip lining in the rainforest of St. Lucia.
Our shore excursion took us to the Treetop Adventure Park where we were welcomed by friendly guides who helped us don the proper gear for our zip lining experience. Everyone was fitted with a harness, gloves and a helmet. We had to wear hairnets under our helmets, and while the look was not especially becoming, I appreciated the focus on sanitation and safety.
Next we were given a demonstration on how to zip line. I had never done this before, so I had no idea what to expect. Grace and coordination are not my greatest assets, so I was hoping that neither would be required. Based on the demonstration, the process seemed pretty simple and straightforward. Sit in the harness, cross your legs, grip the harness with your left hand and loosely cup the wire behind you with your right hand. We were encouraged to reach as far back as possible with our right hand to prevent spinning. Spinning sounded kind of fun to me, but I was told this should not be attempted by amateurs. I decided it would be best to follow instructions, especially considering my aforementioned lack of coordination.
Having received a thorough orientation, off we went to the first platform. Zip lining obviously involves being high above the ground, and unfortunately the only way to get there is by climbing a combination of hills and stairs. But considering my most rigorous activity of late was devouring the delicious food onboard and lounging on the beaches ashore, my body thanked me for finally burning a few calories.
Our guide throughout the excursion was Damascus Dostalie of Cox and Company. We affectionately referred to him as John-John, the nickname by which he introduced himself. The affection was genuine because he was one of the most friendly and helpful guides I’ve ever met. This obviously was not his first zip line tour, as he not only accompanied us throughout the course, but also volunteered to take photos of us with our cameras. Several of us took him up on the offer, so he zipped ahead of us with three or four cameras strapped to his body, and then got photos of each of us (with the appropriate camera no less) as we came down after him.
While a few in the group had been zip lining before, most of us were novices. We were very excited about this new experience, but at the same time just a tad apprehensive about careening through the rainforest hanging from a cable. We were happy to see there were actually two cables for added safety, and the guides stationed on each platform were very regimented in their procedure for hooking us up. We were clearly in good hands.
We all watched as the first brave soul took off from the platform.
Despite my attempt to follow instructions, my body had a tendency to spin. Nevertheless, I landed safely at the end of the first line after a thrilling ride. I was having so much fun I forgot to take in all the stunning scenery surrounding me.
On the next line, I realized I was leaning back instead of reaching back with my right hand. I straightened up and my body straightened out. And again, I reminded myself to look around as I soared over the beautiful, verdant rainforest. The longest line was 1,600 feet so I had plenty of time to admire the gorgeous surroundings.
Soon I was confidently zipping from platform to platform, enjoying the exhilarating ride and the fabulous view. John-John told me I was ready for prime time, and on the next line he took video of me!
We were all feeling pretty proud of our zip lining skills at this point, so John-John took great pleasure in introducing the fastest, most challenging line of the course. I guess all the confidence must have drained from my face, because John-John smiled and turned on my video camera again. “Now in case you don’t survive,” he teased, “what will be your final words to your family?”
As you can see in the video below, “I went out happy!” And as a final favor, John-John took video for me as he ran the zip line. Amazing!
Of course, we all not only survived but had a fantastic time. (On the way out, I saw kids no older than eight preparing to zip line, and I felt a little silly for ever having been apprehensive.) It was the most fun I’ve had in years, as is obvious in the final photos I’ll share with you below.