Monteverde, Costa Rica

Kansas City 2016 053

“Closer.” My foot barely moves an inch. “Closer…Closer.” I inch again.

I’m beginning to think this guy wants me to trip off the edge. I’m surrounded by green. Vivid green. I’m 145 meters from the ground on a swinging tram attached to some suspiciously thin wires. “Closer!” One more inch and my toes are off the edge. “Okay! On three. One. Two…” I jump.

Monteverde is a beautiful name for a little town in the mountains of northern Costa Rica. I barely made it here. I waited for a local bus out of San Jose, thinking, for some unknown reason, that I could just buy a ticket on the bus. Five minutes from departure, I actually decided to ask someone about tickets. “Monteverde?” I shrug. The woman looked startled. “Oh, go now! It leaves!” I rushed outside only to see the bus pulling away. A man dashed past me pointing to the opposite side of the station and ran right into the street waving his hands. The bus came to a halt in the middle of the road. “Jesus, gracias, gracias,” I said in my butchering of a beautiful language. “This is where we pick up princesses,” he said in flowing English. I boarded the completely full, hailed down bus. Like an idiot.

Four hours and many unpaved miles later, I find myself in Monteverde at a quaint hostel surrounded by fellow travelers. “To Costa Rica,” I say and we click our mid-afternoon beers. Robbie sits next to me. A tall Alabama grown boy. He left a job at a certain government agency and headed for Costa Rica, his very first time out of the States. He has the bright eyed excitement of a new traveler. After dozens of countries, and even more hostels, I forget how amazing it can seem to be included in a community of people from all over the world. “How did you decide on Costa Rica?” he asks as I finish off the last of my beer. “Never been,” I say impassively. I had actually never been south of the United States. Well traversed through Europe and Asia, and even North America, but Central America hadn’t been anyway on my radar.

I decided to come here on a whim. I was sitting on my bed a few weeks earlier watching the ticket prices rise and fall. I got a late night text that read: “Just wanted to apologize. I’m seeing someone and I think its gotten pretty serious…” I clicked buy.

My second beer clinks empty against the table. I turn back to Robbie and tell him there is one thing that brought me to Monteverde. “Bungee jump?” he says with a mixture of curiosity and disbelief. “Where?” I tell him I read that the highest jump in Central America is somewhere in Monteverde. More chatter, and a third beer goes empty. “Wanna find it with me tomorrow?” I say.

There really is a moment you feel completely free, before your mind reacts and you remember you are falling. All that fear surfacing in the anticipation as the tram strolls on out to the jump spot. It completely dissipates in the air, as if in the actual moment you can’t feel fear. When you think it’s over, the cord snaps back, and you fall again. You realize the world is upside down and you are just dangling. It’s a slow ride being pulled back up to the platform you just left. All that endless green of the Costa Rican rain forest. These moments, quiet on all fronts, feel like an eternity.

The tram rolls back to solid ground. “Hey!” Robbie shouts. “Everything you dreamed of?” He is standing next to another guy. Blonde with a thin mustache wearing a, for whatever reason, Hawaii beach themed button up. My legs wobble as I get off the tram and I look back toward the stretched wires and the expansive green. “This is Greg. Also from the States,” Robbie says as I come closer. Greg nods. “And where abouts Greg?” Insert Midwestern mid-sized city. I blink a few times, then smile. “Well…me too,” I say.

Some time later, I was back in that Midwestern mid-sized city after a long journey through Asia,  and trying unsuccessfully to blend back into a “normal job” and resettle into this place I originally left. I spot a familiar face in a group on an outdoor patio. I walk past, then decide to turn back for a second look. I walk right up to the railing on the patio. “Greg? We met in Costa Rica?” His friends look at each other and laugh. “We were actually just talking about Costa Rica!” he says. The conversation lasts no more than a few minutes, but it occurs to me that this is the first time I’ve seen him since. As I turn to leave him behind, I remember lying in bed with my cellphone to my face frantically scrolling through the ticket prices. All I wanted was to escape.

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