How (Not) to Jump Off of Waterfalls — Costa Rica Part 2

I should apologize for the number of monkey and horse pictures in this blog post, but the truth is that I’m not sorry at all.

I really think that picking a favorite child would be easier than having to narrow down these pictures (yes, I know I’m going to be a wonderful parent someday, thank you for thinking that).

Also, I’m convinced that the fact that my right eye has not stopped twitching since I’ve been back from vacation has everything to do with how I’m acquiring a (really cute and endearing) tick, and nothing to do with how every drop of moisture in my body was sucked out of me by sun and scorpions and also that I’ve been drinking my body weight in coffee instead of water and now I’m basically a raisin.

And I’ll also tell you that when I exercised today, I bought an iced caramel macchiato to take with me. Feel free to feel better about your existence now.

On to part 2.



Waterfalls are beautiful. I assumed that jumping off of them would be beautiful, too.

I had high hopes.

One of my days was spent riding a gorgeous quarter horse up a mountain and through a jungle to Nauyaca Waterfall. Sweaty, overheated, and feeling a bit daring from the margarita I shared with my tour guide at lunch, I was super pumped to jump off of it. Of COURSE I’m gonna do it and I won’t just DO it, I’ll make this waterfall my bitch, is basically what I was telling myself.

Nauyaca Waterfall

Nauyaca Waterfall

What I didn’t realize is that I’m actually a little afraid of jumping off of high things, except that I definitely did already know that. I think I was trying to avenge the fact that I was unable to bungee jump in Australia when I had the chance, which is my biggest and only regret in life. Just kidding, of course it’s not my only regret. I also regret not running onto the stage at Celine Dion’s concert and forcing her to sing with me and then be best friends forever. And also the number of Corona’s I chugged in a bloody Ben Roethlisberger costume on Halloween in 2007.

I digress.

So I’m pretty certain at this point that jumping off of this waterfall won’t be that big of a deal because my guide, Diego, said that the part I’d be jumping from was “only 8 meters high,” and 8 isn’t that big of a number, right? Especially if I pretend that 8 meters equals eight feet instead of what it actually equals, which is 26.2 feet. As I watched Diego scale the falls and do a practice jump, I’m thinking, Oh yea, cake walk. He just swan-dove off that thing! I can totes do that.

No, no no. You can totes not do that.

Long story short, just getting on top of the falls was like being on an episode of Fear Factor. There was no cutesy little trail around the side to walk up. No escalator, not even a ladder. I got to swim out to the base and climb up the rocks, with one hundred fire hoses spraying down on me. Now, this all sounded really fun in theory, but when you can’t open your eyes out of fear that your eyeballs will be water- blasted through your cranium, and you definitely can’t breath because water is forcing itself into every orafice from all directions, and it’s so slippery that every time you move your foot you’re pretty sure that’s the step that sends you back home in a wheelchair with a helmet, WELL. What I’m saying is that I fully expected Joe Rogan to be standing up there with a fifty-thousand dollar check.

I did make it though, and my guide laughed at me and I laughed at me, too and then he told me I was fearless and I told him he was delusional.

When you’re about to jump off of  a waterfall, a lot of things go through your head. For example, Why in the fuck am I jumping off of  a waterfall?

Other things I shouted at my guide include:

HEY! HEY YOU! Why do you have earplugs in? Did I need those?? Are my ear drums going to burst? Are there rocks at the bottom? I know I just watched you jump off of this thing but something could’ve shifted underwater, you know? I’m gonna be okay, right? Do I need a running start so that I don’t hit the rock wall and sever my spinal cord? Should I plug my nose? This bikini is TOAST as soon as I hit the water, I just know it. You don’t have goggles in your pocket, by any chance? Right, you don’t have any pockets. Oh, am I gripping your thigh too hard right now? Did I break the skin? Sorry, I’m a little tense. Can you tell me again how high this is? Will you jump with me? No, you can’t jump with me. Is there another way down? Right, of course there isn’t. How many people have died doing this? Do you think I’m crazy?

He definitely thought I was crazy.

P.S. this guy was a SAINT, but I don’t feel bad because he got a lot of good laughs in while I was preparing to probably die, so for that, Diego, your welcome. 

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Long story longer, I did finally jump off of it and though I had every intention of making a super graceful exit off of the rocks, it definitely looked more like someone doing the doggy-paddle in mid-air. So that’s cute. Though it was pretty awesome (once I realized I was still alive and intact), I would probably not jump off of a waterfall again unless there was money involved or unless Hugh Jackman was using that as a pre-requisite for divorcing his wife and running away with me to live on a horse ranch in Australia.

Don’t mind the float-y tube that was waiting for me at the bottom in case my broken self  had to be towed back to shore.

And yes, my bikini was toast.



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The only time I actually ever truly felt unsafe was on the three-hour boat ride in the Pacific Ocean, on our way back from Corcovado National Park. It was beautiful weather all day, but as we headed back around 4pm, a thunderstorm started approaching. What started out as calm, crystal waters with minor swells quickly turned into very dark skies, dark waters, and…slightly bigger swells. And by slightly bigger I mean fucking huge. Now I love me a boat ride, but when the captain stops the engine in open water, in a dinky little twelve foot bathtub toy (as seen in picture above), with thunder getting louder and lightening getting closer, and being thoroughly rocked by twenty-five foot swells, well. That’s when you start believin’ in Jesus.

The captain shuffled us all over the place, getting us in position to balance the boat well enough to “give us the best chance of not capsizing.” Well thank you for that. That’s super encouraging. As if the situation isn’t worrisome enough in itself, earlier that day I obviously was compelled to ask the guide what the scariest thing that’s ever happened to him was. He said the boat had capsized last year. Of course he said that. Oh, that’s great news! So glad I have that information. As if I hadn’t already asked enough dumb questions that day, I had also learned that these waters were teeming with bull sharks, because there’s a river mouth nearby and they love brackish water. Lovely. At that point I asked myself “Self, how brackish is THIS water that we are bobbing in right this moment? Is it just a little brackish, or is this full-on bull shark brackish? Can I live without a leg? I can live without a leg but please don’t take an arm. I can’t wax vagina’s with only one arm! Who on this boat is taller than me? I’ll tread water next to him so the shark sees his legs first. How long can I bob out here before I die of exhaustion? Is a stale granola bar really gonna be my last meal? I do not see any rescue mission gear in this boat. I haven’t even gone horseback riding yet!!

Obviously I made it back alive, though a roller coaster ride it was, but I just wanted to share my train of thought because these are the things that go through my head when I’m scared, because I’m crazycakes.

And also I’d like to publicly apologize to the nice lady sitting next to me on the boat who I latched onto like a barnacle until I hit dry land.



The only thing better than snuggling with animals is snuggling with animals that need a little extra help.

Osa Mountain Animal Sanctuary is a rescue, rehab, and release facility for wild animals. I could have stayed there all day long and then also forever.

A few of the animals were already (illegally) domesticated before being brought to the sanctuary, or have disabilities/injuries that make them to fragile too be able to thrive in the wild again. These little peanuts are the ones I got to interact with.

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Tito is an 11-week old Squirrel Monkey. He was abandoned when his momma died. He loves raisins and I love him.

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Gomer is a Dwarf Anteater. Of course his name is Gomer. All he ever wants to do is take naps and snuggle. He knows what life’s about.

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This is Pablo. He’s a White-Faced Capuchin that was confiscated in a drug raid and brought to the sanctuary.

He has my heart.

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When it was time to put Pablo back in his habitat, his snuggles turned into a vice grip and he wouldn’t let go. He broke my skin from trying to hold onto me so tightly. Dying. As Mike, the owner, pulled him away, Pablo reached out his arms to me and started wailing this horrific monkey cry, and I really almost collapsed from heartbreak. People. We are soul mates, is what I’m saying. Mike told me that he’d never seen Pablo react this way to anyone, that he must really have gotten attached, and to Mike’s (unasked) question I replied, Of COURSE I will move here and help you love on all of the sick animals forever and ever!!! I thought you’d never ask. 

Pablo made me realize that my biological clock doesn’t tick for humans, but for orphaned monkey’s.

Everything makes sense, now.



I love horses, and my love for them goes beyond my love for (most) humans. They are such soulful creatures, and when I’m around them, I feel at home. I often wonder why I’m living in the city and not on a ranch in Montana. With a cowboy. And a truck. …and lots of leather and rope. For the horses, pervert. 

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I took a private horseback ride through the jungle, across a river, and to a secluded beach where my guide and I galloped along the shoreline and basically just had the most perfect day ever in the history of life.

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My guide was the sweetest thing ever. He was only 20, but an old soul, and we quickly became chummy. He clearly assumed I was way older (which was totally accurate, unfortunately), because he wanted me to give him all of my wisdom on life and love and basically how not to fuck up his current relationship. Well, since I’m obviously a love expert, I said Okay fine, I’ll shower you with my wealth of knowledge. Prepare to be enlightened.  

Except that I didn’t really know what to say because my last experience was with someone who I’m pretty sure doesn’t even fit the criteria for qualifying as a human being, so I’m a little confused right now, myself. But as we walked along the sand like old amigos, a couple of things came to mind. Alright, Risto, I said. Here’s what I DO know:

If you don’t make her laugh, you suck. 

If she ever feels unlovable or insecure because of YOUR behaviors, you really, really suck.

And if you ever call her a stupid cunt, you should just do yourself a favor and cut off your penis with a pair of kiddie scissors. 

I thought I was giving him some sort of holy grail, but he looked at me, bewildered, and said, “Oh, well we’re always laughing together. She’s the sweetest and most beautiful person I’ve ever met. What’s a stupid cunt?” Okay well you clearly don’t need any advice and I have no idea why you’re asking me for it. I teased him for being worried about doing something wrong, and he laughed at me because I almost fell off of my horse while trying to push him off of HIS horse. After a long pause, he spoke. “I’m guessing that the cunt word is really bad and I really hope no one ever called you that. There are just a lot of idiots out there, you know? Guys who are staying up all night drinking way too much and watching all the naked videos (I loved that he called them “naked videos”).” These holy words came straight out of a man’s mouth, people! I know, I couldn’t believe it either. So the obvious response was, Are you a real person? Do you have a brother? Can I clone you? How do you feel about Seattle? I will buy you. Name your price. I have cash.

I wasn’t really going to buy him because that’s probably kind of illegal, or a lot illegal.

And also because he was only 20 and I’m not ready to be Mrs. Robinson.



On one of my last days there, I went zip-lining. I could’ve done this All. Day. Long. It was fast and freeing, and I was hoping they’d let me go across the lines upside-down “Superman-Style”, like I saw my guides doing. Apparently you have to have some sort of experience in zip-lining first so that you dont, you know, kill yourself.

At one point we had to rappel 75 feet from a tree platform to the ground and when it was MY turn, the guide told me to put my legs over my head. Okay Rico Suavè, you have to at least buy me dinner first. Then I realized he really just wanted me to hang upside down. Oh, right. Of course. But, wait. UPSIDE DOWN? 75 feet up in the air? Well, naturally, I did. Then he told me to let go of the rope and let my arms dangle. So I did that, too. Um, why am I the only person you’ve asked to do it this way?, may have been a logical question to pose, but I was too caught up in the fact that I felt like Spider-Man and I LOVE Spider-Man. Then, before I could even pretend to shoot some spidey-web out of my wrists, he slacked the line and dropped me in a free fall before stopping me with about 15 feet left to go. I screamed like a banshee and then laughed until I cried and then I begged him to let me do it again. Something tells me that’s not legal in the ‘ole motherland.

On a slightly more heart-filled note, the real reason I did this is one that is so deeply precious to me.

Ever the child at heart, my dad had always dreamt of being able to fly. We were supposed to go zip-lining together last summer and fulfill his dream.

We never got the chance.

So, I traveled to the place that boasts the worlds’ best zip-lining. I wore a necklace with his ashes in it, and we flew.

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Traveling solo to Costa Rica meant different things to me at different times in it’s formation. By the time I landed in Central America, I no longer felt like I was there to escape certain toxicity. Instead, I was there to honor my courage, my beautiful father, and have the fucking BEST time ever while doing it.

I think I can safely call it a success.

“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown that reveals you with yourself.” – Ella Maillart

 

Love,

M.

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