Soaring of a Line
Kristina. Age 13. Pennsylvania

David, Panama: lush forests, vast mountains, rivers, farmland, small cottages; a rainforest paradise. I watched the landscape blur by, the grand mountains, green, lush, and bold, through the crystal clear windows. Riding up winding country trails, dirt paths that twist and wrap up the hillside, enjoying the priceless view. There were small farms scattered throughout the valley, cattle roaming the land below. Streams running through adjacent to the car, making it seem like we were going in circles. The twelve of us laughed and joked as we made fun of the cows, while my Spanish cousins sang my sister’s song, “A Banana-Pickle in a Fedora...!,” as we observed the scenery. I looked up and caught sight of the paper-thin wires we would soon be swinging upon, wondering who even came up with this activity. From the top of the hill, the view was even more amazing—green, lush rainforests, narrow, steep valleys, and the never-ending roads. Finally, twenty minutes later, we arrived at the place we had all been waiting for: Boquete, Chiriqui. The excitement swelled inside me as we exited the car and followed the guide’s instructions.

He described, in a thick Panamanian accent, the procedures we needed to go through when harnessing up, as well as while we were enjoying the ride. We had to hold one hand on the line behind us to control our speed and the other hand on the harness to keep ourselves right side up. Also he instructed us that we had to be cautious while on each and every platform. Harnessing up, my mind began to wander: What could go wrong? Is this extremely safe? Can I get hurt? I turned back into my overcautious self when it came to anything even remotely dangerous.

Once everyone was prepared, we began the long trek up to the first line. The dirt path, beaten from the heavy and constant footprints, was worn and slick. We continued up the path, slowly but surely. Finally, we approached the first platform. The guide told us one thing that struck me cold: “This is your last chance to turn back. Once you commit to the first one—you have to keep moving forward.” Do I want to turn back? My body wants to continue; however, my mind is more scared than a cat. I continued to contemplate this and eventually decided to move forward.

Arriving at the platform from which we started, the long ride down made the lengthy trek up worth it. When looking through the fog, we could see both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It was resplendent: mountains standing tall and strong, valleys small and steady, streams running across the entire landscape. Birds chirping… It was very peaceful. My heartbeat slowed to a normal pulse. Adrenaline running, I decided I was ready to go. One guide went first, then my cousin, my youngest sister, my cousin’s mother, my other cousin— and then me. I walked up to the guide who would hook my harness to the line, and followed his instructions exactly. Click! I was attached to the line. I rested my right hand, heavily gloved, on the line and squeezed. My left hand rested securely upon the harness. On the count of three—I was off! Soaring. Gliding along the wire. Trying not to look down. Making myself forever immersed in the scenery. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling the breeze tickle my face. The rush of the wind bellowed in my ears. I was soaring high—fast. Gradually, I opened my eyes. I was greeted with an amazing sight. I saw the stream, two hundred feet below, cheering me on. Some parts were rapids, rocky from the mountainous landscape, threatening to whoever fell into its arms. There were cattle in the pastures, small as ants, and cars running down the countryside. I could even see the restaurant deck from which my aunt waited with her two youngest who are too young to ride. It was fascinating how it looked like I was right there with them. Looking ahead, I noticed that my ride was coming to a close. The guide was signaling to me to begin to squeeze my hand in order to brake. I glided to a perfect stop on the platform.

Exhilarated, I was ready for the next ride. It felt like forever—waiting for about twelve of us to finish the first line. I knew I could do it—I did it. I did the thing I was unsure about—zip-lining. I felt fantastic. I wanted to do it all over again—soar.

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