Category Archives: Adventure

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.

Billy’s Big Adventure

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Yesterday I had the best day ever.   When we woke up, Laura told me we were going to have fun and boy did she deliver.

Laura and Grandma get dressed, pack a cooler and grab a few snacks for me.  Then Laura puts on my harness.  Even though this usually means I’ll be out of the house for a long time or get to go on a long walk, I hate wearing this thing.  I resist as much as possible by first rolling over on my back and then pulling my big paws out of the holes, but eventually Laura gets it on me.   Humph.  We close the front door behind us and hear Sammy the Schnauzer whining and then moaning.  Ha!  I’m happy to get away from that guy for a while.  He’s such a bully.  He also doesn’t know how to stay calm in the car, which means he doesn’t get to go as many places as me.  We get on the road and Grandma holds onto me; she tries to keep me out of Laura’s lap as Laura drives.  Little does she know Laura and I have safely driven many miles with me in her lap.  Laura is an excellent driver.

After a while we arrive at our destination — a house in Anton where Grandma’s friends live.  I get out of the car immediately and check out the property.   I’m happy to see lots of trees and to be off of my leash.  I run through the vegetable garden and then towards the high brush in front of the creek.  Laura calls me back, I guess because she thinks I’m going to get lost.  After a bit, we head into the house and I hang out near the table where the others sit to eat.  I’m curious about the food so I pretend to be hungry.  Under the table, Laura slips me a little piece of corn bollo, but I don’t eat it.  I don’t really like most foods, which people think is weird.  But whatever — being discriminating is how I keep my lean physique.

After eating, we all get into another car and drive to a farm.  This is where the real fun begins.  I get out of the car, sniff around some and then dart towards these little birds.  I crawl through a hole in their cage and scare the heck out of them.  A bunch of them tweet and run in every direction.  I’m totally excited but Laura gets upset.  Next thing I know she’s running towards me yelling, “No, Billy, no!”  I finally calm down, let her pick me up and put me on the leash.

Then we take a tour of the farm.  We see another dog but I don’t approach him since I hear someone say he’s not friendly.  This is the first big yellow dog I’ve met that’s not friendly.  Probably because he’s chained up.  We keep walking and eventually I see a horse.  I’ve seen these huge monsters before; last time I kind of went a little crazy barking at one.  This one is pretty chill, and since I’m off the leash again and he’s the one behind a fence, I keep my cool and don’t bark at him.

We keep walking and eventually we reach a river with a nice sandy beach.  I love sand so I’m pretty happy about this.  We walk across the beach and then hike over big rocks, which Laura’s friend tells her came from a volcano.  Laura picks me up and passes me to her friend since she can’t hold me and her dress while she crosses through the cold water.  We reach the other side and keep hiking.  Eventually we reach a one waterfall and then another.  This is most excellent.  I’ve never seen a waterfall before and right here there are 2 of them!  Laura takes a few pictures with me.

All in all, a most excellent day.  By the end, I’m pooped and crash in Laura’s bed with my harness on.  I can’t wait for more adventures.