18 Jul Learning how to “work and play”
As might be aware, I am not at my site this summer. Following my work plan, I was instructed to visit a park with the goal to see its attractions through the eyes of a visitor and as a professional. It was clear to me what I was looking for, from educational signs, to interviews with interpretation and education staff; all while having the experiences the park had to offer. I coordinated the visit to Toroverde Adventure Park located in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. It is recognized for having the longest zip-line in the world (2.5 Kilometers). I interviewed a staff member who identified himself as “Jose” who was very helpful telling me about the history of the park, their mission and their goals. I appreciate they want to promote ecotourism in the center of the island. You can visit their website here http://toroverdepr.com/.
That was the work part, now comes the play… I arrived at 9 a.m. and after preventive Covid 19 measures were taken, I was received by an interpreter (Jose) and proceeded to jump straight into action. They lead us to a tent outside the visitor center that was dedicated to gearing up visitors with harnesses, helmets and gloves. At the first zip line, my group, composed of only 3 people, was carefully instructed on the correct and safe ways to travel. After that, there were 8 zip lines- each with an average distance of 850+ feet ) had us ricocheting off the mountains! Let me tell you, after pumps of adrenaline filling my body because I was continuously being pushed off ledges I thought I’d mastered my zip line skills, until I realized that the final 2 rides (main attractions) were not only high-speed but also had the highest launch points. So, as I walked to the top of a tower, I think it’s right to say I was underestimating the situation. When reality took over, I was next in line to be hooked up. Unlike the first 8 zip lines, the way to ride the “Monster” was head first, face down. My only sense of safety was holding on to the harness dangling on the cable and the dude that was securing my gear-not Jose! I didn’t dare look towards the ledge or I would’ve been in the border of a nervous wreck. I received the”go ahead” signal and was pushed off the ledge, for a second I forgot EVERYTHING the interpreter had said to me. For about two seconds I was 30 feet above the ground… after I passed the visitor center, and this is a rough estimate, I was about a thousand feet above the ground! The sensation of the rapidly increasing speed and my eyes watering made me laugh out of excitement. With that same happy feeling I started to tilt my upper body forward in hopes of increasing the speed-as if I wasn’t already going 60 mph! Nearing the end, as instructed I extended my arms outwards, like a plane or bird, to decrease the momentum. I was essentially flying from one mountain to another and it was an unreal sensation. My day at the park ended at 2 p.m. and I was starving, I went to a local restaurant and ate delicious plantain dish “Mofongo”. This experience was not only insightful and educational but also fun; learning how to work and play. I am really grateful I had the opportunity to have such a great experience during these “interesting” times.