by Barbara Renner
I’ve been following Laura Orisini’s blog, Eric’s Other Mother, and was inspired to write my blog this month about bravery. Mainly because, well, Laura challenged her readers “to share the bravest thing they’ve done so far this year.” I don’t recall being brave this year, but the question did conjure up some memories about my trip to Costa Rica several years ago.
In 2015, my daughter went to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat. She immersed herself in the culture and earned her 200 hours to become a yoga instructor. Just in passing, she suggested that I fly down there for her “graduation” and stay with her for a few days. We laughed, and then hung up.
I started thinking about it and decided, “Why not?” I was in a small town in Minnesota for the summer with nothing else to do. Husband alternates his summer days between playing golf and fishing, so I checked into flights to Playa Grande Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and made my arrangements.
Is being brave flying by myself to a foreign country? Yes, I guess it is, but I travel by myself all the time. Husband does not fly and prefers to motor from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible without encountering any tornadoes, snow, or big cities. That gives a visual of our route from Arizona to and from Minnesota every summer.
Is being brave flying in a tiny plane from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis, Minnesota? Perhaps, when there are banks of single seats on the left side of the plane and banks of two seats on the right – and when the pilot and flight attendant are the same person. The flight from Minneapolis to Houston was a little daunting, also, as I was seated next to a man who was inebriated when he boarded the plane and became belligerent when the server wouldn’t grant his demands for alcoholic beverages.
Is being brave walking across a suspension bridge over a river at Rincon de la Vieja? Maybe, especially since it swayed with each person’s step. We stood in awe at the powerful waterfall, trying to capture its beauty with a camera. Being brave might also be stumbling over an iguana as we stomped through the jungle; or confronting an alligator as we sloshed across an estuary; or ducking from a howling monkey.
Is being brave zip lining over the canopy? You bet! At age 66, zip lining is probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a good thing we planned this part of our tour for the beginning of my trip, so my fear didn’t have a chance to escalate and ruin my Costa Rica experience. What’s to worry about? Tourists zip line all the time, right? I just didn’t want my daughter to have to extract me from the jungle and ship me back to the States – a very costly endeavor, and so much paperwork.
The tour preliminaries included signing the liability form; trying on helmets and gloves; wrapping the straps and harness snugly around our crotch and waist; and listening to instructions. Once everyone was outfitted, we climbed the hill to the uppermost platform. Since there were 11 platforms, it was a long hike up. Our thrill-seeking group included a fun family from Boston whose high-spirited jokes alleviated some of the anguish I was experiencing. One of the Boston sisters zipped in tandem with one of the instructors. “Do you want to go with someone, Mom?” my daughter asked. “Nope. I need to face my fear by myself.”
I purposely elected to go last so I could observe everyone else’s technique, being a visual learner and all. Once I hooked the carabiner to my harness, the guide practically pushed me off the stand. I’m sure he was thinking he needed to prod this old broad along or she’d never get off the first platform. One of the instructions was how to control our speed. To slow down, pull down on the wire with the left hand. On my flight off the first platform, I utilized that instruction to the fullest so it was more of a crawl than a zip. Finally getting the hang of it, I progressively got faster in my zipping, much to the relief of my fellow canopy groupies. Here I come. I’m in the blue shirt – slow and steady wins the race.
Being brave is being ready to face danger or show courage, and it varies from person to person. Being brave for someone might be dealing with a spider. Being brave for another could be giving a speech. Being brave for me was zip lining in Costa Rica. My next being brave event is going to be the shotover jet ride in New Zealand.
Barbara Renner and her husband have lived in Phoenix for more than 40 years. As “Sun Birds,” they fly away to Minnesota to escape the summer heat – and to fish. While in Minnesota, Barbara became fascinated with its state bird, the Common Loon, and was prompted to write four picture books about Lonnie the Loon, because everyone should know about loons. However, books about loons don’t sell very well in the desert, so she is writing a new series of picture books about Quincy the Quail. Barbara visits elementary schools as a guest author to read her books and share interesting facts about loons and quails. She’s working on other children’s books and a special book about her yellow lab, Larry: Larry’s Words of Wisdom. Learn more about Barbara at RennerWrites.com, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.