Elakya’s Summer Surprise: Up, Up, and Away!

My time abroad during summer of 2017 was in Costa Rica, which was an amazing, beautiful place, where I learned a lot about the world, but also where I learned about myself. Something unexpected that I learned there that has definitely shaped who I am now is when I accidentally found out about my fear of heights. Up until that point, I had never actually been in a situation where I was in danger of falling from a great height, so I had lived my life really never thinking about heights and amusing myself listening to people who said things like they were scared of the dark, or heights, or spiders. 

However, one of the excursions I had planned in Costa Rica was a large ziplining trip, including the longest zipline in South America, which was almost a mile long by itself. It soared over the canopies of the forest, with the tops of the trees seeming like tiny broccoli heads when one looked down. At first, I was excited, and the smaller sections of ziplining were quite fun. In the smaller sections, we ziplined like people do in the movies, where they’re basically sitting in the air and attached by a vertical hook. As the sections got longer, I started to get a little bit more apprehensive, especially the longer that we were above the expanse. I tried to convince myself it was just because I was inexperienced with ziplining, but as time went on, I started to realize it was the sheer height that was beginning to scare me. 

The view from the zipline, Costa Rica, 2017

Finally, the last leg of the trip was the longest zipline, and only after I reached it, I learned that we would have to zipline across completely parallel to the ground, with our arms and legs outstretched, facing down, as if we were superman. I was quite scared, but, at that point, I felt like it was too late to back out. I was unnaturally quiet as they buckled me up, and then suddenly, they pushed me off. It was incredible to see the large canopy, but as a few seconds went by, I realized the hook on my lower half of the body was loose. I felt my body slowly start to slide out of part of the harness, and especially at that height, I started completely freaking out. I still had about a minute left in the section, and I was convinced I would fall out before I could make it across. I started imagining newspaper headlines about the college student that had plummeted to her death on an innocent ziplining tour, and started crying.  I obviously ended up reaching the other end safely, as all the people preparing us for the ziplines were certified professionals and I had just been overreacting. I did end up getting some funny pictures of my crying on the zipline, and I also learned that I should just probably avoid heights in the future, so it was overall a great experience. 

Elakya realizing her fear of heights, Costa Rica, 2017

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