Sunday, September 21, 2008

Survivor Extreme Cabo, Part II

Another Tequila Sunrise!

The first full day of the trip was fun. Craig went deep sea fishing and caught the biggest marlin. (Maybe not the best thing to do when the boss is ultra-competitive and always has to win.) In addition, he has a strong stomach and did not get sick. It was an especially rough day and one of the guys on the boat spent most of the time puking and was needled incessantly by everyone else in the group for the rest of the trip. Since Craig didn't have a camera with him on the boat, we never got a picture of him and his big fish. I'm sure the boss wanted it that way! In fact, they all had been told to put money into a betting pool for the biggest fish, and Craig finally had to ask before they came forth with the moola.

Despite pointed comments that had been made to me at dinner the night before (the boss couldn't imagine anyone wanting to sit on his/her a## under an umbrella at the beach all day), I decided I was spending the day at the beach! Come on! Do you really take people to a Mexican beach resort and not expect them to go to the beach! I was happy that six others joined me, and one of them put the entire tab on a company credit card! The beach we went to, Medano Beach, was an absolute zoo! Party central. Beach bars as far as the eye could see. And the vendors were incessant. In fact, they called themselves the 'mosquitoes' because they swarm in huge groups.

I think this was the busiest beach I've ever been on. Usually, I like a quiet beach, but I just sat back and watched the fun! Very few people actually got in to swim, which is a good thing since the water was jammed with boats and water sport activity. I did get in and I'd bet the temp was in the mid-70's. I was in and out very quickly! Anyway, after a busy day sitting on our a##e#, the seven of us wandered back on foot to the hotel to get ready for the evening meal where we ate some of the fishermen's catch. That night (let's just say every night) the group was taken to Cabo Wabo where there was an open tab. We stayed until around 11:30 p.m., watching the action on the dance floor and some people who had actually chosen to get married there (VERY strange). Craig and I left the group early since vans were picking everyone up at 7 a.m. for the required Day 2 activity -- the big test!

Let me explain. The entire group of people on the company trip were asked to pick the activities that they would be 'willing' to do about a month in advance. I'm fairly game, but I do have my limitations. I have a fear of heights, bad motion sickness problems, and I don't relish anything risky because I broke my back in a car accident at the age of 21 and never want to revisit the six months in the back brace. So I picked snorkeling and a Jeep trip where tour operators took people to various sights in the area including little villages, etc... Truthfully, my idea of activity would be beach, beach, beach, but I wanted to make an effort to fit in with the company culture. (I'm using the term culture very loosely here since culture was definitely lacking!) My husband signed up for deep sea fishing and the Jeep trip, so we'd spend one day together. Anyway, long story short, the boss trimmed the activities down to two. Deep sea fishing for a selected few, and the required Desertica Extreme Cabo Experience, an ATV/Zip line adventure. No excuses accepted.

My son almost fell down laughing when he heard about the required zipline/ATV day. Okay, nothing in a fast vehicle is my idea of fun, and I almost had a breakdown on the Capilano swinging bridge in Vancouver, B.C. I have a real fear of heights. Since there was no way to get out of the all day group activity, I rationalized that the ATV's and zip lines would probably be a generic type experience for all ages -- kind of like a Disneyland ride. Maybe my head would get a little messed up, but it would probably be over in minutes like a quick bad roller coaster ride. Well, I was wrong.

I should have known better because the family Craig worked for was all about extreme sports. (Baja Race, 4-wheeler racing, the Alcatraz swim, etc...) Their idea of fun involved getting dirty, taking risks, and constantly proving themselves. I also should have taken a clue at the beach on Friday when another spouse, a former firefighter, confessed that he didn't know if he could go through with the Extreme Cabo day because he did NOT like heights and had retired due to his vertigo! So some people had done their homework, but I was keeping myself in denial.

Saturday morning came early after the Friday night drinks at Cabo Wabo. For half the group, they DID have a Tequila Sunrise! Literally, I think they wobbled down the sidewalk from Cabo Wabo into the van. After a quick breakfast at Pancho's, we all loaded up for the one hour plus ride north to the Desertica adventure camp. After arriving, we were then partnered into ATV's (they split couples up). I claimed ignorance about driving a clutch and took the passenger seat, strapped in, and braced myself for the dirty bumpy hairy trip back into the mountain river canyon.

Desertica Base Camp

Since I didn't know the driver beside me, I vowed no bitching, screaming, or braking. We hit a few cacti, lost a bumper, and my driver said, "Let me get out and piss some blood now." Funny guy, but the ride WAS rough! After the first half hour, my back was killing me and I basically went into a zoned out numb mode, keeping a freaky smile plastered on my face. I could have screamed and bitched a blue streak (and wanted to), but no one would have heard me anyway through the helmet and infernal noise.

At one point, we came upon these poor cows. I bet the ranchers who use the open range absolutely hate these infernal tours. We eventually came to a point where a river emerged from a mountain canyon. We abandoned the ATV's and instructors started strapping us up in the harnesses. I noticed a cable out over the river and thought it was pretty high, but it would be over quickly. I could shut my eyes on the trip over the river and back. Not going to be so bad after all!

The zip line experts, all from Costa Rica, gave us about 5 minutes of instruction and then we started hiking a trail up, up, up . . . Uh, I thought we were taking that little zip line over there by the river? After a short steep hike, we lined up on the trail waiting our turn to be hooked onto the cable at the first platform. I decided to just not think about it, look straight ahead, and get there fast as I could. My turn. Crap crap CRAP! As the young guy hooked me to the cable and I hung there waiting to be shoved off, I vowed to not look down. Ready, set, and the guy shoved me off headed down the cable.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . uh - oh. Why am I spinning? Oh CRAP! Spinning like a top over a 250 foot plus drop! And then I finally stopped and was hanging there, trying not to look down. The trick was, if you didn't keep the perfect form, your body would start to spin on the line and you'd be left OUT THERE on that cable high above the canyon! Fortunately, the instructors were prepared for this scenario and a guy quickly came out to rescue me, pulling me in backwards hand over hand. When we finally reached the platform, my heart was jumping out of my throat. I rested for a few minutes, noticing that the poor woman behind me, also a confessed agoraphobic, had gotten stuck less than a third of the way over. There but for the grace of God go I! At least I made it halfway. Once again, I followed the group up another steep climb. Huffing and puffing all the way. Holy crap! I'd never even thought about the possibility that this was also going to involve a strenuous mountain hike.

After the third zip line, when I was totally dry-mouthed, couldn't swallow, heart thumping, out-of-breath, I pleaded to Craig, "God, tell me I'm almost out of my misery!" He turned to me with a sheepish look and in a whisper said, "Becky, someone just told me there are 16 zip lines total, so that means we're not even a fourth of the way." I could not BELIEVE it! I was already exhausted. And, since they had made everyone leave their backpacks down at the base camp, we had no water. I didn't know whether to cry or collapse. I knew at that point there was no choice and I could only make enemies by whining, so my silent mantra became Paycheck, Paycheck, Paycheck, Paycheck. There was no way out of that canyon other than by zip line, so I just put my head down and concentrated on getting from platform to platform as quickly as I could. There were times in each hike up to the next platform where I couldn't swallow because my mouth was just too damn dry. At one point, one of the zip line handlers came past and gave my husband and I a small bottle of water to split.

I can't tell you what a relief that last zip line was! And may I remind you -- that was the 16th zip line! Oh my God! I made it through unscathed (except for the fact that I literally heard that infernal zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz noise in my sleep for a month after we got home). One of the women wasn't so lucky. She crashed into the metal bars on one of the tiny landing platforms. The handlers were supposed to stop the zip liners on some of the fastest runs because the only way to brake was by creating drag on the cable with the leather glove. The Costa Rican guy wasn't paying attention (actually, he was flirting with one of the younger chicas) and didn't brake for the woman. She ended up shocky with a huge contusion on her leg. They called paramedics after the 45 minute ATV ride back to the base camp. I was so glad it wasn't me!

While waiting for the vans to take us back to Cabo, I picked up a brochure that detailed the ordeal. The course consisted of 16 zip lines totaling 5 and 1/2 miles of cable. The cables were suspended anywhere from 250 to 450 feet over the mountain river gorge. Seven of the zips were considered extreme with speeds up to 60 miles per hour. One zip line was almost a half mile long! The brochure didn't bother listing the strenuous hiking in the canyon. I'm sure for a young athletic person in really good shape, the adventure would have been a breeze. I'm also sure that some of the people in the group truly enjoyed it. But there were times in the canyon when I thought some people in the group might not make it. Lots of huffing and puffing with middle-aged people collapsed on the side of the trail with glazed eyes, etc.... Believe me, it was a killer for the Average Joe!

I will say that Craig and I both agreed it WAS an experience of a lifetime -- one we would have never PAID to do. If I had known the truth in advance, I'm not sure I would have let them strap me into the harness. Craig admitted afterwards that he was a little worried at how I was going to react after he saw the actual situation. He's amazed I actually went through with it! I've seen zip line trips on the Travel Channel where people glide over the treetops in some type of stable looking apparatus with metal bars to hang onto. This wasn't THAT. A lot of the cables were literally tied to trees on the side of the canyon, and there was no bar to hang onto. You had a leather glove to hold onto the metal cable, and a leather harness to sit in. It was like one of the bad competitions on the Amazing Race. Times sixteen!

Once we got back to the hotel, we debated leaving the embedded dirt all over our bodies. The alternative involved the long COLD shower. (We did take the cold showers, but brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.)

That night, the group dinner was at some bar. It's the famous one where they hang people upside down and make them drink shots. The Giggling Marlin? The fearless leader of the group did hang upside down. The group headed once again to Cabo Wabo. Craig and I split early because we were exhausted from the day's ordeal.

Day Three to Come Later!

And here's my hindsight after a few years more of travel to Mexico. The fearless leaders of this trip did not buy any travel insurance for the group, so I bought one for the medical evacuation. After reading the fine print on these policies since, I realize, the policy would have done us no good if we'd been injured since they specifically exclude things like parasailing, ziplines, etc....


couzin frank said...

Did you make a Video?...Dare you to show it...I vote for beach myself.As I said on Bobs..when you posted pic's of Isla..lot's of places on island I have not seen yet.SOOOO! hard to get out of beach chair.

Beck said...

No video Frank. I actually wish I could have seen the expression on my face when I was suspended out there. I bet it was total fear! I just unearthed a CD of Isla pics that I've been missing, so more to come! :D

jeanie said...

Beck I was shaking and exhausted just read this. I couldn't post yesterday (dang Bell) and because it was on my mind, I had a dream about it. Of course in my version I said to the zip dudes "Are you smokin'crack? Get a helicopter here now!!!" I had to go back and read part 1 trying to figure out why you didn't tell us about it before. AHHHH Craig was still working for those FREAKS. I do remember you posting in response to someone's question about Cabo. Girl you are such a diplomat LOL You said "My trip to Cabo was really quit adventurous and not for the weak hearted. There was ziplining and stuff" LOL Glad you made it back and lived to tell the tale.

Bennie said...

HOLY COW! I could have never done this.