As part of a recent tour of Tikal in Guatemala, and for only $30, my mom and I added a zip line adventure. We went with Pacz Tours out of San Ignacio, Belize. This was my second time using Pacz for a tour to Tikal, but the first time I added zip lining. After a wonderful, albeit wet trek through the mystical Mayan site of Tikal, and lunch, we headed to Canopy Tours Tikal (by the way, you won’t see Tikal during the zip lining). We were met by the smiling faces of Gama and Felix. These two young men were amazing. They were very excited to practice their English and in the process taught me a new Spanish word (more on that later).
Gama and Felix helped us get our gear and then we started a short walk to the first platform. On the way, Gama offered to carry my camera during the zip lining tour. He and Felix even took the photos for us. You can imagine our surprise when later we realized that they took 50+ photos. I kind of assumed we’d get one or two photos and that would be it. I’m so glad they felt eager to shot away.
I had only zip lined one other time, in Mexico, and the place I went was a lot more commercial so I completely underestimated how ‘cautious’ I would be climbing the ladder to the platform here. In hindsight, I believe climbing to the platforms was much scarier for me than actually jumping off the platforms. Doesn’t make sense, does it? My mom on the other hand had never been zip lining, but she amazes me all the time. She is not afraid of anything…at least nothing that I’ve noticed so far (sounds like a future challenge). At the top of the first platform Gama, whose English was the strongest, carefully gave us instructions. I, being the brave daughter, went first. In an attempt to do exactly as I was told I put the brakes on way too early and ended up having to use my arms to drag myself the last couple of feet to the platform. When it was my mom’s turn she almost did the same thing, but luckily she released her hand on her cable a bit and made it all the way. Gee…she’s always showing me up.
As each line came, we got better at the mechanics. Then Felix wanted to show us a trick that we could do if we wanted. It’s best to just show you a photo. I think my mom was seriously considering it and I had to talk her out of it. She is such a daredevil. I just didn’t think either of us was ready. The trick itself seemed doable; it’s the getting back ahold of the line that was a challenge. My hand had slipped off on one of the previous lines and I almost ripped my shoulder out of joint putting it back on the cable. For those that haven’t zip lined before…don’t be alarmed…the problem was I tried grabbing the cable and I should have just lightly placed my hand on it…but I admit it…I panicked a little.
Zip lining with Gama and Felix was a complete joy. I don’t think we could have possibly gotten two better guides. They were patient and sweet as can be. In the end, I told them that it was awesome and that’s when Gama taught me a new Spanish word…Chilero! He thought it was likely unique to Guatemala. I sure hope it does mean ‘Awesome’ and not some bad word that I shouldn’t use.
A side note, my number one piece of advice when zip lining…wear long shorts or pants. In Mexico we wore swimsuits due to the nature of the place we were. It was a pretty uncomfortable couple of hours.