Extreme Sport Fail

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On Sunday some friends and I went zip lining at La Granja Campo y Aventura near Colon.  A family friend invited me to join her since her daughter, who is close to my age, wanted to go there during her Panama visit.  Once the 3 of us arrive, we are grouped with a few other tourists and taken to the zip line area where we suit up and listen to instructions on what to do and not to do on the line.  I pay close attention and think I understand.

Friend’s Mom goes first.  She’s come to this same park to zip line before so she’s practically a pro.  But since she’s in her late 60s, I give her huge props for taking this on twice now.  She is awesome.  Her daughter goes next.  She’s not as calm as her mom and screeches like she’s on a roller coaster the whole way down.  But she makes it unscathed which is the important thing.

Then it’s my turn.  I’m scared to put my feet up and to receive the gentle push off the platform.   Eventually, I start moving but think I’m going too fast.  So I start doing this pumping thing to the line with my right hand to slow myself down.   When I arrive to the end of the line, a friendly tour guide tells me not to pump like that and repeats some of the instructions.  Also, if my hand comes off the line, which it did, I shouldn’t try to grab it again; I should just put it in front of me with my left hand.  I try again on the second set of cables.  When my right hand comes off the cable, I put it with my left, which means I’ve lost my ability to brake.  That was my fear.  I’m going at top speed when I realize that the guide who’s supposed to catch me on the other side hasn’t noticed I’m quickly on my way.  When he finally does notice me, I’m close enough to catch a fleeting “Oh, shit!” look in his eyes.  Bam!  I crash right into his thick, strong torso.  Of course, this is much better for me — if not for him — than crashing into the tree supporting the platform. I’m exhilarated  embarrassed and frustrated with myself all at the same time.   I get another lecture about what to do with my hands and try to improve my technique on cables 3 and 4.  But I spend so much flight time thinking about what to do that I hardly enjoy the ride.

After the fourth cable, I’m done.  I tell my guide and he calls another guide to help me down the swing ladder.  Back on solid ground, I blame my inability to properly follow directions on my slight hangover after celebrating a friend’s birthday the night before.  Not only did I stick to my two drink minimum but I enjoyed an additional glass of champagne.  After just 5 hours of sleep, I leave the house and stop at Pio Pio, a Panamanian fast food chain and my new favorite place.  I order a corn empanada, an order of fried yuca and a cup of Cafe Duran.  This tasty meal provides sufficient grease and caffeine to get me through the morning but apparently not through 6 cables in the canopy.

I don’t really care about quitting until we’re at lunch and one of the other guests asks me what happened.  Now I feel like a dork in front of this really cute guy — a rare Panamanian species.  I’ve already noticed him, checked out his female companion and used my supersonic hearing and Spanish skills to figure out they’re not a couple, just friends.  In response to his question, I make a funny comment pretending to be so cool that I got bored with the whole experience.  It occurs to me to flirt with him.  Instead I immediately leave the table.  While Friend’s Daughter and I are waiting for the shuttle, I tell her I think that guy is cute.  “He’s adorable,” she confirms and encourages me to give him my number.  I admit that I’m too embarrassed to return to the dining area and she says, “I’ll do it for you.”  I like her.  I write my contact info on a piece of paper and Matchmaker delivers it to him.  Based on Matchmaker’s report of how he received my message, I’m hopeful he will call.  It would stink to fail twice in one day.

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