Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Night

Well tonight is my last night.

I’ve certainly done some interesting things while here. Relaxed a bit too. Thought about stories and Margot and what the future will hold. Burned the living crap out of my chest today (as I forgot to put suntan lotion there.) Met a few people, even talked to a few. Ate a massive amount of food. Gained 20 pounds. Probably wrote between 15-20 pages a day, all told (blogs, my letters to Margot, story outlines and new novel writing.)

Coming back home, I have a lot to sort out. Physically. Emotionally. I need to get on cleaning the office so I can write again. I need to pick up the doggies. I need to resend more queries (0/6, unless there is something in the mail.) I probably need to throw away stuff in the fridge again.

I know I took a chance coming out here alone. I knew it would be hard.

Not sure I would do an all-inclusive if I had to choose all over again. It is a place for couples and groups. It is not set up for singletons. However, there was no way I could have gone to Europe, alone, that would have been far too hard. So, all things considered, it wasn’t the massive success it could have been (success defined as getting past the overwhelming sadness that lingers not far below the surface) but neither did I sit in my room and curl up into a ball. Not a massive failure either.

Likely when I get home, I’ll reconnect with all my friends, force them to tell me how wonderful my blog was and con at least one of them into seeing Avatar.

Life goes on. Tomorrow, I come home.

(goofy Joe picture - Mazatlan city tour, not far from the cliff divers, taken by a nice mexican couple.)

The Game

I have to say, I was pretty excited about The Game (and so very happy I didn’t have to go far to see it.) John and Leslie, however, had begun to outpace me on the drinking front. While I had a good head start, they quickly caught up but none of us were a match for a little Chinese girl who tanked down some sort of chocolate drink like it was a milkshake (you can see her later on top of the bar, cheering).

The puck was dropped, the bar cheered and The Game had begun. Not the best picture but what the hell. We all watched as Canada fought valiantly against the foul and sometimes dirty Americans. A few American supporters here chanted U-S-A but by far the majority of the crowd was Canadian. The Canadians sang hey-hey, goodbye, they chanted Can-A-Da and pounded on the table or clapped with surprisingly un-Canadian gusto.

It was amazing. The energy. The patriotism. The shouting. The fruity drinks.

Then, in the middle of the game, the Mexican station decided to take a commercial break. I kid you not. They didn’t wait for a stoppage in play, while the puck was being collected or coaches were talking to their players, no, they just cut to Telcel.

Had the Mexicans never seen a hockey game before?

It was weird but I didn’t worry, not much was likely to happen. I mean what are the chances Canada would score its first goal in those 30 seconds?

Well, the chance, as I should have known, was 100%.

While we all watched sexy girls holding cellphones, Canada scored their first goal.

Ever seen a bar erupt in anger? Frustration?

Me neither until today but that’s what happened. Holy hell, people jumped out of their seats, they threw things, they yelled obscenities and then a replay happened and it was like a baby getting the boob, everyone calmed down. Then they cheered.

The first period ended and when I looked around, the bar was nearly full. Many more had crept in while we watched the Game. I would guess the beaches were now empty. The new arrivals to the hotel had chosen to come here rather than go to their rooms and unpack.

Everyone stared at the screen, hoping and praying. It had been a great game so far. Both sides had chances, both goalies played well and I couldn’t help feeling a one goal lead was not going to be enough.

During the first intermission, two (shall we say, no longer young) women decided to get their picture taken with a young dude who, at the risk of sounding gay, had a great body. They took pictures of each other biting his nipples. I shit you not. If one was under 40, I would be surprised. I think he too was surprised and not quite sure how to react. I looked over to John and Leslie and we shook our heads.

Bar scenes, eh?

As more people continued to arrive, we all watched and cheered Canada through 2 more periods, and as the last minute began to count down, the US having pulled their goalie, the crowd chanted and cheered and roared and with anticipation of a gold medal.
50 seconds.
40 seconds.
The noise grew.
People were out of their seats.
I grabbed my camera and began to record what would likely be the winning moment, the last 30 seconds.

Then the US scored.

Even the Americans were stunned and didn’t start shouting USA at the top of their lungs for maybe 3 seconds. The Canadians stood in stunned silence. SHOCKED.

So much for me filming of us winning. I had recorded a room mostly full of shocked and silent Canadians (and a few cheering Americans.) I feared I had jinxed it.

Then the OT began and the noise rose once more as we all cheered on our team (could you hear us?) It was thunderous.

And then Canada scored.

The place went crazy. People leapt onto the bar or on their stools. There were hugs and high fives and dancing and cheering and then we all began to sing o-canada at the top of our lungs.

Ok, sure, not all of us knew the words but we hummed the hard bits with great pride.

anada had won! On a Sidney Crosby goal!

It was all I had hoped it would be and more.

Afterwards John and Leslie invited me to dinner with them, my first invitation, but I had to decline as I was pretty much socially exhausted. Introverts like me can only take so much before they need to recharge.

Last Day

Feb 28th 2010

Only one thing to do today. Only one thing mattered.

The Game.

I woke up and, for a wee while, struggled to get out of bed. It seemed like a lot of work to find a bar, get a taxi and head out to where ever the game would be. But I decided not to let that get in the way of my last real experience here.

I got up, grabbed breakfast and blogged. I had also come up with a plan. Get some sun from 10 to 12, then ask at the service desk where would be the best place to see The Game. I figured probably a 10 min taxi ride or maybe a 45 min walk as I had heard earlier that a bar existed to the north, one that played the Olympics.

Seemed like a good plan.

So I got my towel, my book, lathered up with lotion and headed out into the sun. There was a little dusting of clouds in the sky but it was otherwise a gorgeous day. I grabbed my chair and lay out in the sun until 12.

Plan going well.

Then I went back to my room before heading to the lunch buffet. There, in the elevator, I met a nice older fellow who asked if I was seeing The Game. I said I had hoped to but still wasn’t sure of a nearby bar. He said that the hotel would be showing the game in the sport lounges and on the TV in our room.

Say what?

Very good news. But was it true?

I went back down and confirmed, yes, yes indeed it was true. Oh frabjous day, Calooh Callay.

1:15 my time, The Game would start.

I ate and set up shop in the bar at 12:30. I want to say the beach had been emptied, that everyone in the hotel mobbed to the sports bar, but that was not the case. At 12:30, I was one of only 8 people there. Hmmm, I thought to myself, is this really going to happen?

I talked with one of the fellows who had arrived early and he still believed they would show The Game despite the fact that all TVs currently displayed a soccer game. By 1, same thing, only by now there were 15 people. Doubt began to creep into my doubting mind.

But a couple sat down beside me at about 12:40. John and Leslie. From Hamilton. Mid 50’s, I would guess.

We struck up a conversation immediately, and, very much like Bruce and Lil, we hit it off like we were old friends. Plus, I may have been drunk.

Hey, there wasn’t anything else to do while I was waiting and the fruity drinks were very yummy!

Still, John and Leslie and I shared two very important things in common. They both loved to travel and, when I told them why my wife wasn’t with me, John told me he had survived throat cancer himself.

They told me all about their trips to Thailand and Costa Rica. They had been to many of the same places in Europe that Margot and I had been but they had even ferried over to Morocco to bravely wander the markets there. I didn’t talk too much about myself as semi-drunk Joe seems to be pretty good at getting others to talk about themselves. Margot was the same. She was such an amazing listener. I tried to channel a little of that.

Costa Rica sounds incredible, a place Margot would have loved. They also did a good job of talking up the East Coast of Canada and, of all things, Columbia.

I found it odd that I was able to talk about what happened to Margot with them. It could be that was because they knew a little of what it was like. John’s cancer had been found by accident - he thought he just had a cough. Likely had he not gone in when he did, it would have spread too far for them to deal with but go in he did and, after being hammered by radiation and chemo, his cancer was in remission. He was very grateful.

As we talked, the clock ticked down and still no sign of The Game. However, one of the four guys who had come in to watch the game took matters into his own hands. He was a superfit dude, probably thirty, with a cool set of tattoos up one of his arms. On his tricep was the word God in strong letters. Below that was a flag. Italy. On his forearm were more delicate letters. Famalia. Nice.

Anyway, he grabbed the remote from behind the bar and began the difficult process of figuring out where The Game would be on Mexican TV. To my surprise, he succeed. And, one by one, he switched all the TVs over to the right channel.

By 1:15, the skiers had finished. A picture of a hockey rink came into view. There were 30 odd people in the bar and more coming. My 5th drink was parked in front of me. My new friends sat back in their chairs. The Game was about to begin.

(picture is of John and Leslie, good people.)

Tsumani Warning

Feb 27th 2010

When I woke up, I did something I don’t normally do. I turned on the news. And what did I see?

A earthquake in Chile and a tsunami warning for the pacific coast. It looked like a bad earthquake, 8.8 and they projected surge waters 7-18 feet. Good god.

Funny how of all the days here, this was the one when I turned on the news.

I watched the news to see when I should be worried or IF I should be worried. There was some talk of wavings hitting California at 12:08pm and a neat diagram showing how far the wave would travel from the epicentre in X hours. It would hit my area about 5 hours from the Chile but when did it start in Chile, local time, GMT, what?

Looked outside. Ir was early morning and the beach had the usual early morning crowd, dog walkers, joggers, surf walkers, a few families with children looking at waves. No one jumping up and down and shouting get away from the beach, get away from the beach. So nothing urgent then?

I went downstairs and looked up on the internet, did GMT calculations and figured the wave, if there was one, would arrive at 10:49 my time. I went to the desk and asked about the tsunami and they seemed blithely unconcerned. “We have been told that the surge will not reach us.”


Not that I doubted them. No, these were the guys who only took 9 calls to figure out a laundry order. I’m sure they had a handle on the tsunami.

I went upstairs, packed an emergency bag, put in 2 bottles of water, gathered all my documents and prepared to leave quickly, if I had to.

Then I went outside to watch. The beach continued to fill with people as the morning passed. Fuck me, I thought, if the resort got it wrong, a lot of people, children, golden retrievers would be dragged into the sea.

Good photo opportunity, sure, but something I was not even sure I could shoot if it happened. Can you imagine watching a wave come in a kill dozens of people?

I kept an eye on my watch, kept an eye out for someone running out and yelling IN-COMING! I kept the news on but they were pretty much useless at tracking the tsunami in this part of the world. Oh, CNN had a 30 second watch on Hawaii but nothing about their southern neighbour.


But, thankfully, at 10:49, no big sucking back of the sea, no rising of the ocean like a great fist, no surge and counter surge. The threat had passed.


I thought I would have been pretty safe up high on the 18th floor. But man, all those people down below, not so much.

Still, great that nothing happened. I celebrated by going down and having a beer at 12 - after I was sure nothing was going to happen. I generally don’t drink at all before noon, hell before 6, simply because it makes me sleepy. Middle-age, eh?

Truth is it doesn’t make me sleep as much as it makes me mellow. Too mellow to write or get things done or even want to write or get things done. But I guess, here in sunny Mazatlan, perhaps wanting to do things was a bit over-rated. So I gave in to the evil spirits and spent the rest of the afternoon reading. That’s it. No writing. No great adventures. Nada.

Boring, yes? Sorry about that. A good story would be leading towards a final great event. I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. The big event was the zip line.

Or was it? Margot would always point out that not every story had to have great battles or gunfire or zipping through trees. Maybe it’s more about that I can go down and do supper alone every night. Even tonight when all my instincts wanted me to stay in the room and avoid the empty chair and table-for-one crap. Maybe it’s about trying to find a way to live when half of your soul is gone. Maybe it’s regaining faith in something. A purpose.

Not sure I’ve managed to do any of those things, though. Not sure I even feel any better than when I left. A bit more burned on the knees perhaps. But better, sure doesn’t feel like it.

However, tomorrow is another day.

At the very least, I have to find a way to see the game, US vs Canada.

(the picture is the tsunami... or at least what hit us.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Feb 26th adventures

The little maids thought they had me today. When I got up, late and sore from horseback riding and ziplining, they had soaked the entire floor from my door to the elevator. Ah, clever but I am clever too and saw the sheen on the floor and gingerly walked to the elevator and didn’t fall. But they weren’t done yet. So clever were they that they knew where I would go, coffee, and had sabotaged the floor there as well.

Ha! I saw the slippery sign and walked with care. They would not get me, those little she-devils. No they wouldn’t.

Even though I got up at 8, I was still sleepy. Last night there was a huge fight that sounded like it was outside my door. Yelling and screaming and stomping. Not revelry, there is always plenty of that, but a good old fashioned couple’s fight. Ugly and loud. Last thing I really needed.

So, in the morning, got my coffee and started to work on catching up on the blog. Feeling not as overcome today as yesterday so I hoped it would be a good day for writing and reading. Nothing else planned.

After catching up, I went to sit in the sun. Without anything else to write about, I thought I would explain my beach experience.

I come from my room with towel under my arm, a book in my hand, sunglasses covering my eyes and I smell vaguely of suntan lotion. I go to the beach, pull out a chair to better take advantage of the sun and set myself up. Shoes off. Shirt off. lay back.

I dip my hand in the sand. The sand is very fine. It is sand colored and twinkles in the sun. It sticks to everything. It gets into everything. Sand is not my friend. I avoid the sand by lying on a lounge chair. I take my hand out of the sand (and spend the next 20 min getting every grain out of my knuckle wrinkles.)

My favourite place is not far from the volleyball sand-court and even closer to a little self-serve drink station they have set up. Not many people hang around my area, most of them are in the pool on the other side of the beach, drinking or splashing or just sunning.

I can close my eyes and listen to the music from the speaker near the pool as it drifts with the wind. I can hear the grind of the waves in and out, in and out. the sound is ever present and tranquil. Not far off, kids shout in glee, splash in the pool, giggle when being chased by mom or dad.

I open my eyes. Overhead, I see pelicans or gulls soar in the blue sky. Under the cover of shade, deep blue colored birds cry out and search for bugs. Along the surf, sandpipers race back and forth. Nearer the food tables, sparrows hop from chair to chair, keeping an eye out for crumbs.

Soon I feel the heat of the skin on my sun. With the wined, it takes a while for me to heat up. Oh sure the temperature has been high since last Friday but with the wind constantly blowing, it seems quite mild. An illusion as the sun still beats down and can burns my skin if I am not careful. But never does it feel nasty, sweaty hot. Good me for, might be bad for others.

Today, as most days, the vendors roam the beachline that has been roped off. My guess would be the rope defines private property vs state property. These poor buggers work from dawn to dusk, carrying their suitcases full of silver or wandering around with mountains of hats on their heads or heaps of blankets on their shoulders. There is one guy who sells sunglasses from a board. Another sells lace. A woman hawks handfuls of beads and ‘local’ jewellery.

None of them cross the rope barrier. They do, however, shout or whistle at anyone who even remotely comes near or looks their way. It works too. People do come, they do buy and so the vendors come back day after day. My guess is that they can make an ok living out in the scorching sun.

Behind the beach vendors are the walkers and swimmers. Every day, early in the morning, the local pats can be seen marching up and down the beach, tanned to a dark mocha and often walking dogs. It wouldn’t be a bad place to be though I can’t imagine finding enough people with which I shared common interests for me to stay in such a location. I might find a writer or two, even the odd travel nut but I suspect it’s really a community based on the sun and drinking and that isn’t quite my scene.

As for the swimmers, a few of them dare the going beyond their hips, but not many. A few surf the waves. Some ride boogie boards. Some use full length boards. None of them are any good, however and it's painful to watch them crash time and time again.

As with any day, there are great people watching opportunities.

Yesterday, I watched a family set up a tent for their child with a good half dozen chairs. They used blankets and towels and built quite an effective little home. Both parents could fit inside, lying down and they had set up drinks outside. Very cool. I thought it would be great to come to such a place like this with young kids. I would have taken a picture but the mom was dressed in a very skimpy bikini and my picture taking might have been misinterpreted.

I have to say, I like the beach. Sun or no sun. Full of people or half empty. It is a good place to spend a few hours and not have to worry about anything more than getting a little too burned or sand in strange places.

Not much else to report today. Started the next Brad Thor novel and this one is far superior to the one I read earlier. Ate nice burritos in the lunch restaurant. Blogged more. Snoozed in room. Then went down to supper at my usual grandpa time of 6.

I was sat at my yes-for-one-table and ate some very lovely lamb. I hope to explain more tomorrow about the buffet they had set up. However, tonight, I had a different experience from my normal one.

An older couple was seated a table away from me, and another gentleman beside them. I thought they were part of the same group but no, it turned out the single gentleman was, like me, all by himself. It wasn’t the first person I’d seen dine alone but so far, they had all been woman. Not this guy. He looked about 80, rumbled and dishevelled, his hair thin and white, his skin pale and untanned and sagging on his frame. He wore white shorts far too big for his legs and a blue polo shirt frayed at the neck.

The older couple asked if he was alone and he said yes. They asked if his wife was upstairs and he said no, she had passed away last spring. They had been married for 52 years.

52 years? Fuck me.

A year ago, I would have turned to Margot and said, that’s sad. Margot might have shed a tear, she often did when she heard that kind of stuff, but I would have just acknowledged the sadness of it and moved on. Now his loss, a wife of 52 years, seeped into me and I couldn't shake it. Big fat wet tears rolled down my face. It was like I had heard the saddest thing in the world.

Was that why his shirt was a little frayed, his hair dishevelled? Had she made sure he looked his best before she passed? Did he miss her as much as I miss Margot? Did 52 years mean he could look back and say, hey, we had a good life or was 52 years, like 30, not enough?

I actually had to leave or really lose it. Stupid ass emotions. Stupid ass old guy who looked completely lost without his wife.

Went up to my writing area in the internet zone, blew my nose, wiped away the tears and finished my blog up to the end of yesterday. Finished more when I went back to my room.

Wrote a good 25 pages today. Felt good to get caught up and, despite the old guy at supper, the day could be well declared a success. No great adventures but then every day cannot be a wild ride.

Tomorrow, it’s likely to be another slow day.

(picture is of a vendor selling lace table-clothes by the look of it.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Feb 25th 2:30pm

When we landed on the last platform, we found, a little to our shock, that there were no ladders down, no stairs, no elevators or escalators. We would have to rappel down.

Say what?

Jonathon-the-operator showed us what would happen, something about a figure 8 clip and someone holding the rope below and it was all safe and I swear, the 3 indo-canadian girls went as white as me. We all shifted nervously on the platform as the first one leapt off and, after a scream, landed without any problem. Must have been 40 feet. Looks far down from up top, not so far from the bottom.

The fearless guy was, yes, fearless. His girlfriend, brave. The goofs didn’t do anything goofy and the indo-Canadian girls were happy to go last, making sure no one died a hideous, shrieking death. I had no fear and rode down easily. I don’t think I would have been so unafraid if I had gone first but seeing how easy it really was, I managed to get down without shrieking.

When everyone was down safely, we sat in the sun for a bit then off to the factory. We marched through the sweltering heat past the more clever locals who sat in the shade, past guava farms which has the most amazing smell, our feet kicking up dust from the dry pathway. We got back on the bus and drove off to the factory.

It was a small factory, and the tour took very little time. Over here, the ‘pineapples’, the guava plants cut into round shapes, over there, the pulping, over here the fermenting, how stinky, over there the distilling, the aging, the bottling, all very hi-tech amigos, we do it by hand.

I was pretty bored, to be honest, and somewhere along that bus trip to the factory, my mood had shifted. I had gotten a little sad over Margot not being here and that turned into an utter intolerance of the world and everything in it.

Margot would have loved the tour, I’m sure, and asked all sorts of cool questions at the end and even loved the cheesy singer in front of the bar where they dispensed free tequila. I did not. Instead of cool and, like the bus, very Mexican, I saw only the poor mules who sweated in the heat and the vendors hawking their wares with wanton aggressiveness and the stupid kids who thought it was very cool to drink 6 shots of tequila (ages 15-18, there were 5 of them).

The no-neck guy shouted on about how great booze was in Canada (again, it might be true so dunno why him shouting it bugged me so much), the parents of the drinking kids did fuck all but bathe in the sun and there was a knot of people who kept talking throughout the whole tour of the factory (yes, you guessed it, fucking no-neck guy and his moronic clan of loudmouths.)

I got myself one drink and it was pretty darned good, considering I am not a big tequila drinker. It was smooth, didn’t make my throat burn or my eyes water. It was a gold medal winner. Double gold, in fact, and a completely organic drink. No preservatives. No chemicals in the process, all natural. Margot would have liked that.

Unfortunately, by the time I got back on the bus, I was in a horrible mood. What made it worse were the kids in the back of the bus, not far from me. To all parents out there, let me tell you the number of tequila shots your teenager takes is directly related the number of times he or she will tell you to shut up or fuck off on the bus ride home.

OMG they were such a pain in the ass, drunk and loud and suck-my-balls this and fuck-you that... and that was just the girls. At first, they all sat laughing, then they turned on each other and nearly came to blows, then when mom intervened, see the fuck you, comment. Ugly, ugly stuff and the parents did bugger all, (including the no-neck guy who had 2 kids back there and who I had thought would put a stop to all of that pretty quick, but no, he thought it was pretty funny when the son told him mom to fuck off.)

As well, my Mexican friend had apparently 12, yes 12, shots of tequila and if I thought he was chatty before, holy shit, I had no idea. He didn’t sit beside me but across the aisle and kept leaning over to say things to me. Sometimes he’d turn around and talk to the teenagers like they were his new best friends. Oddly, they seemed to like it. If I understood him right and he did his best to gesture as well as speak to me, he got loaded before getting on the bus and then got extra loaded at the factory. Dunno if he ever did the zip lines, I honestly don’t recall seeing him there at all.


It was a long ride back.

Strangely, when I got up to leave the bus, my amigo got up and shook my hand and patted me on the shoulder and smiled and fired away more machine-gun spanish. Somehow, I had made a friend. A drunked non-english speaking friend but beggars can't be choosers.

By the time I walked into my resort, I had a huge headache, (due to the bus ride? The lack of water? The lack of food? The tequila?), my mood was truly foul and had degenerated into a seething hatred for most, if not all, people, and I felt vaguely sick to my stomach.

Grabbed some food and my anger turned to sadness once again and I lost all interest in writing the blog or going for supper later or doing anything. I went back upstairs and sank into bed and didn’t get out until morning.

The day had started well but ended poorly. Funny how a day can turn around in my current state.

Tomorrow, I had to catch up on the blog and beat back the tide of unhappiness.

(the picture is of the bar at the tequila factory and includes the drinking teens and my favourite guy, no neck. See what I mean, no neck, right?)

Feb 25th 1-ish

The second line didn’t look as bad as the first one and since all of us had made it, a lot of the nerves had turned into triumphant jubilation. We’d done it. All of our group.

No one had fallen, no one had gotten stuck in the middle, no one had killed their handler by crashing into them a full speed (though I think I came close). The two guys talking crap had not gone upside down and kept their hands very firmly on the line to make sure that they didn’t get going too fast. One guy, however, had gone balls out. His wife had barely made it to the platform because she had been so afraid, but this guy, no fear at all, not on his face, not in his actions.

“Shit, man, you are fucking fearless,” I said to him as we waited for the next line. He had a shaved head like Gord and bullet shaped sunglasses. Like Gord, he was wide but not fat. He had the calm fearlessnes of someone who fought fires for a living or taught kindergarten.
“Nothing to be afraid of,” he said.
“Lot’s to be afraid of,” I said, “Getting stuck in the middle, not stopping in time, getting bugs in your mouth...”
His girlfriend laughed. She said, for her, the fear was speed. She wasn’t used to going so fast. He had no sympathy. I told her I understood. Joe-the-comforter.

The next line the fearless guy did without placing his hand behind him and gripped the line only at the last moment. Has he done this before, I asked his girlfriend. She shook her head but didn’t speak as the operator hooked her up and shot her off. Next up, me. Up on the step, rollers hooked up, safety line attached, lean back, all ok? Go!

This time, I leaned back and didn’t touch the damn line at all until the end. Unlike the fearless guy, my hand stayed near the line hissing on the flap protecting the palm. Wheeeeeeeeee. Then, as I got closer, I tightened my grip. Hard. And slowed, landing perfectly like a little angel on the platform. I beamed at the operator who said, better that time. I pointed out that the flap on my glove, the one that protected my palm, had come lose (or had been loose, not sure). He looked at it, shook his head. It will be fine, amigo. It may get a bit hot but no problem.

A bit hot?


The third one was the longest, extending as far as I could see, so far that the earth itself curved before the line ended. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration but it did look like a long way down. It started out above the trees then sank towards a hill on the other side.

Now make sure you do not grip the line, the operator, his name was Jonathon, said. If you do, you will not make it.

Anita, the fearless guy’s girlfriend, paled and looked around and shuffled back and forth on her feet. Her boyfriend leapt off the platform and roared down. She followed but, somewhere, her fear took over and she stopped about ¾ of the way. The operators on the end, came out and got her. Poor thing.

I had no problem and even managed to stabilize my spinning without really slowing down too much. As well, I nailed the landing, as they say. A 10. 8 from the Russian judge.

Feeling pretty confident now. Lines 4 and 5, no problem, good speed, good balance and good landings. Then came #6. The fastest one. A huge drop right through a tunnel of trees. Not a long run but an impressive one.

Fearless guy went balls out. His girlfriend did well and made it all the way. The 2 goofballs, despite a constant banter of one-upmanship, had yet to come close to the fearless guy. The 3 indo Canadian girls looked like they would have rather being doing pretty much anything else and their companion, flawless in his zipping.

Me, I came in hard and fast. I tried to stop too late again and my glove went furnace hot as I yanked down and tried to stop. The photographer leapt out of the way. The operator braced for impact. Wham! I hit the stopping foam on the line at nearly full speed. Feet went over my head, my helmet scraped on the platform but I had made it. I righted myself, laughed for some stupid reason and the operator shook his head again.

Amigo. Less speed.

I pointed at my glove and said, “not much protection,” but the truth was, I needed to slow down earlier not at the last possible moment. Also the truth, I really liked the speed. My only concern was if I began to spin but I thought I had that under control.

I went on the next one.

7 and 8 were fine, neither too steep nor too long. I had no problems as I slowed down a bit before landing. Judges said, 8’s on the landings. On the 8th run, the goofballs had finally leaned all the way back so they were nearly horizontal. Not quite upside down like our Jonathon the operator did but way more than I felt comfortable doing. The fearless guy looked bored but his girlfriend glowed with the satisfaction of overcoming one’s fears.

The last one was one of the best, not because of the zip line but because it began in a tree and ended in a tree. For the first time, it made sense we were tethered to a safety line as one misstep and we fell 30 feet to the ground, maybe more.
We all got to the last tree, the end of the line, without any problems but then came perhaps the hardest trick of all.

(picture is of me at the end of line #6. Not sure how the photographer got this one as he had lept off the platform screaming like a little girl when I came hurtling in. Oh and for the record, you can see the flap of my glove that should have been more attached to my glove.)