13 October 2007 | Outside Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica
For almost three months now I have lived below 10 degrees latitude, which is just 600 miles north of the equator. My home is where glasses slip down your nose, shirts stick to your back, and steam rises from the road. The insane amount of rain and stifling heat in this part of the world often times drives me mad, although I am quickly refreshed when I gaze onto shore at the towering jungle and dense forest. Costa Rica wouldn't have its incredible forests without the rain, heat, and wet, nutrient soil. So I have grown accustom to the rain and heat, and simply look to the fascinating trees and bush every time I become frustrated with the amount of water in the air.
Of the months since I've been here, I've had the opportunity to see trees, shrubs, bushes, plants, flowers, and weeds that are foreign and new to me. I am not much of a horticulturist, but now enjoy looking at the strange and fresh things growing out of the ground in this part of the world. However, it is important to understand that I have observed all of these items from the ground level, like most people do. For instance, while walking along side the road I often look up and into the foliage of the trees that stretch out, over, and across the road like gigantic natural umbrellas. I know this because I don't actually have an umbrella and stay slightly dryer when I walk under a tree in the rain. Surely everyone has a mental picture of a certain tree, forest, or wooded area, and that visual is most likely from the ground floor, looking up, or just like me walking down the road in the rain, wondering why the leaves aren't bigger on the damn tree.
Today was an extraordinarily special day for me as I had the brief opportunity to literally turn my world upside down, and view everything from a truly different and unique perspective. Successful businesses, world leaders, and inspiring visionaries constantly promote alternative thought processes, the most common being, "thinking outside the box" or "looking at it from a different angle". Going through the daily motions and living a strict or routine lifestyle seem to make this particular exercise more difficult, as most people tend to dig their feet into the ground, and ultimately fear the idea of doing something differently. After spending three months looking up at the forest and jungle, I spent 3 hours looking down upon it, which almost blew my sweat filled socks off. Today we participated in a canopy tour, which is essentially a tour of the jungle from above the tree line, via a wire zip line.
The whole tour is straight-up exhilarating, gear intensive, and yahoo!-yelling inspiring. After strapping on a four-point climbing harness, massively thick leather gloves, and a flimsy helmet, we made our way to the top of a tree, where a small platform and steel wire awaits. The climbing harness has a simple, yet large pulley attached to it, which you then attach to a long wire cable that stretches across the top of the forest, sometimes covering a distance close to ½ a mile. "Vamonos Amigo!", the guide yelled as I leapt from the platform and zipped along the cable towering a hundred feet or more above canopy. The cool wind blew upon my face and filled my ears as I zinged along. A smile filled with pure excitement and amazement was plastered onto my face as I looked down at the forests I was so used to looking up at. We effortlessly glided over immense canyons, raging waterfalls, and brilliantly green tree tops. It was surreal, hard to believe, and astonishingly beautiful. For a mere $65 dollars I toured a pristine rain forest from a bird's eye view, which blows "looking at it from a different angle" right out of Central America. Next time I look up and into the foliage from below I will remember what it looks and feels like to look down upon it, which is something everyone should experience. Being able to "see something both ways" is something I will strive to do in the future as it is a truly refreshing feeling.