Lange: Zipping In The Tropics

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(HOST)  If you’ve just about had it with cold weather and wouldn’t mind a little adventure, commentator Willem Lange has discovered a sure-fire cure for cabin fever.

(LANGE) I was in Costa Rica for a week recently, shooting a documentary about endangered  migratory songbirds, and I was ready to come home!  Then Mother showed up for another week, and life shifted into overdrive.

In her pre-trip Googling, she’d discovered that, along with environmental awareness and eco-tourism, Costa Rica advertises dozens of "canopy tours," on which patrons swoop through the treetops on zip wires.  She’d expressed a desire to do at least one of them.  So I’d kept my eyes open, and found one, only a few miles up a hair-raising mountain road, from the west-coast village where we rendezvoused.  Hotel Vista Golfo de Nicoya, it’s called.  Built and run by a couple of expatriate Germans, it looked like a good place to start our week together.

It was.  The open dining verandah, centered under a huge spreading tree, looked miles down a valley to the west coast.  Each day the maintenance man hung two fresh bunches of bananas from the tree, just outside the railing, and dozens of exotic birds, from brown jays to toucans, moved in for a feast.  As dusk they were replaced by a coati and a porcupine with a prehensile tail from which it hung to get at the bananas.

But the big deal was the zip lines.  "You know," I said, "you’re over seventy now, my dear.  Maybe you ought to be taking a longer look at this."

"I did it before, remember?  In Outward Bound."

"Yeah, but that was forty years ago on a climbing rope.  These things with the pulleys really sizzle."

It was 25 zips, descending and crossing a canyon with a tumbling stream far below.  Naturally, she went first, followed by a bunch of Midwesterners in John Deere caps.  I went last, once I was sure the cable would hold guys heavier than I.  Halfway down, where we took a break at the foot of a waterfall, we stripped to bathing suits and jumped in.  The folks from the heartland, too modest perhaps, to exhibit what was left of their bodies, watched from the rocks.

A few evenings later, in a hotel of scattered tile-roofed cabinas, we dined in the restaurant, and, on the way out, asked the desk person to turn on the hot tub.  We’d change at our cabina and be back about the time it got warm.  But on the way, Mother unscrewed the light bulbs around the tub.  "I’m going to take off my dress and jump in.  You go change if you want to."

I did, and stuck the room key in my bathing suit pocket before climbing in.  It was quite romantic; but the jets kept filling my shorts with air, so I floated like a cork.

We climbed out and headed giggling toward the cabina.  I felt for the room key.  It was gone; and there was only one place it could be: at the bottom of the bubbling pool.

This is Willem Lange in East Montpelier, and I gotta get back to work.

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