Costa Rican Canopying Coneheads

Mention you’re going to Costa Rica and the first question you hear from anyone who knows anything about this Central American country is, “are you planning to go canopying?”

“What, pray tell, is canopying?” was my response.

An Internet pal, someone from Guyana with whom I sometimes chat, zipped me a photo of helmeted individuals wearing harnesses and standing on a platform up high in a forest. She said since she lived on the edge of a rain forest, she knew what canopying was. And apparently, it’s all the rage in the land of rain forests. This was confirmed when we arrived in the San Jose airport and in the customs area there was a life-sized, three-dimensional display of this signature endeavor.

Canopying is an activity that has you climbing to the treetops to perch upon a variety of manmade platforms. Well-trained guides use carabineer clips, cables and cords to attach you to a pulley straddling “zip lines” that go from tree to tree. With a little jump, you’re on your way sailing like George of the Jungle through the trees from platform to platform. All you have to remember to do is lean back and keep your feet up, and then Weeeeeeeeee!

I felt like a kid on a playground going down a slide for the first time, and wanted to do it again and again and again.

From a first timer’s perspective, canopying is as fun as scuba diving, takes less effort and equipment, and certainly less study. They’ll let any able-bodied individual participate—including a group of oversized cruise ship vacationers from Canada. The brochure says they’ll even let your five-year-old do it. And the little kids certainly look cuter in the get-ups they make you wear.

Told to wear long shorts or pants, I chose to wear capri pants, which, as soon as a stud named Alejandro outfitted me, were cinched up tight in a crotch-pinching harness. (If I were to do it again, I’d definitely rethink the thong underwear.) Aside from the Barbarella straps, by far, the most unflattering aspect of the getup was the bright orange conehead helmet teetering atop my skull. I knew my husband looked kind of funny, but I didn’t realize I looked like such a dork until I saw photos of myself on a CD on which we spent 40 bucks.

We just viewed this CD in the comfort of our beautiful bungalow. The array of pictures began with stunning snaps of the flora and fauna of the land: toucans, monkeys, sloths, coatis, hummingbirds, butterflies, poisonous dart frogs, flowers of every color, teak trees, palm trees and ferns, ferns, ferns. We oohed and aahed at the pretty colors of everything and laughed at the human-like features of the white-faced monkeys. And right after a monkey’s face filled the screen, the very next photo was a close-up of my husband’s face. His clear blue eyes protruded with excitement, his smile was wide and, his “package” was conspicuously outlined by the harness for all to see; however, what stood out even more than that package was the STUPID, bright orange conehead helmet atop his head. NOT attractive. And trust me, I looked even stupider.

I’m not sorry we purchased the CD. It’ll be fun to show our kids, who aren’t yet aware of vanity and probably won’t think we look goofy. And frankly, taking the opportunity to relive the memories of a fun-filled day swinging through the trees will make the purchase worthwhile. But for now, my little zip line trip through the jungle reminded me of the fact that LIVE is always better than Memorex.

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