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That’s me, zip lining in the jungles of Nicaragua, near San Juan del Sur. Below me there were howler monkeys, blue Morpho butterflies, and tree tops. Ironically, the tree tops below cushioned my fear of heights. The view was so incredible, it didn’t seem real or feel like we were as high as we were.
There were 8 chances to fly from tree to tree, If I remember correctly. The first 3 were scary, but the rest became easier and more fun as we went along.
At the end of the adventure, we had a straight repel down to the ground from God knows how high up. I’ve been guessing we were about 30-40 feet in the air when we were dropped to the ground. We were able to let the guide know how fast or slow we wanted to drop. I thought I had made it very clear that I wanted to drop slowly, but my Spanish may have been rusty.
As the guide was lowering me, he’d drop me quickly and make me scream, then slowly. I remember hearing people laughing like they thought I was actually enjoying it. He was alternating as I was screaming for him to knock it off, and then it happened. I looked down at the ground and just my luck, my hair came out of my headband, out of my helmet, and got caught up in the rope. Every inch he dropped me wrapped another inch of hair into the rope and gear. I was screaming, imagining my scalp being torn from my skull. It was the most horrifying few seconds of my life, (until the volcano boarding topped it a few days later!).
With the help of my friends, I’m guessing they were about 10 feet below on the ground, it stopped. I was hanging by a chunk of hair on the left side of my head, in the front. What I remember is every thought I had about how they would never be able to get me out without ripping my scalp off my head. “Maybe they’d be able to get a knife in there to cut my hair, but that’s only if they can get a ladder to get to me, and we were in the jungle. Who has a ladder in the jungle? What if my scalp tore and I had a bald spot in the front of my head? How long do you think it would take to grow that hair back? I wonder what I’d look like with a bald spot. Do they sell extensions for girls who have been scalped on a zip line? What is everyone doing? Why is it so quiet? OH! There they are… I don’t understand what they are saying… I’m going to have to do this myself.”
I began to swing back and forth by my hair, thinking that if I could get my feet to the tree, I could lift myself up enough to pull my hair out of the tooling. I tried it. It didn’t work. I heard someone say they were getting a ladder and coming for me.
The next few moments were so peaceful. I had no pain anymore, I just relaxed and hung there, by my hair. I quickly went through all possibilities in my head, and none of them seemed so bad. I just knew they would get me down and if the worst case scenario was a bald spot, it would grow back, and damn I’d have the best story to tell!
My poor, poor guide. He climbed down the tree’s vines and somehow got me out of the rope. He pointed up for me to look at my shredded hair pieces still waving in the wind and rope above. I felt my new kinky, frayed hairstyle with my hands and immediately checked for blood. There was none, just a funny new “do”, and then I looked at him. He was staring off into space, panting, and wide eyed.
I said, “Are you ok? I’m ok! If I’m ok then you’re ok! Are you ok???? Hey… I’m ok!” and I rubbed his arm and kissed his cheek, thinking that would lighten him up. It didn’t help that much, but he did smile for a second! I finally had to tell him to get us out of the tree already. The poor guy was way more traumatized than I was, and apparently I’m a sucker for a Spanish speaking boy with a conscience. I talked to him until he lightened up, then I called him my hero along with my friend Chris who helped me to the ground. Our picture is below.
My friends were below me waiting to catch me and comfort me but I was just fine. I remember them all seeming and looking horrified. I remember laughing so hard and telling them that if I am ok then they should be too! I really didn’t know why they were so upset, but someone said I was the one in shock.
About 15 minutes after I was released and hiked to our resting space, I broke down in the bathroom, sobbing, and my head and neck really started to hurt! The crying only lasted about one minute, then I was fine. I believe my next few thoughts were about how awesome that was and what a cool story I have to tell, plus I got to keep some hair on my head AND had this funny looking chunk of hair sticking out to prove it.
For the next two weeks or so, my hair had to be styled to tame that little souvenir I received on our zip line tour. It made me laugh every time I noticed and tamed it. As far as I was concerned, I had just overcome my fear of heights, and couldn’t wait to do it again!
It took literally hanging by my hair, to appreciate the difference between real urgency and self induced urgency. Part 2 of this story will explain… stay tuned.