"Watch out for the snakes," the guide said.
"He's kidding, right?" I felt the buzz of panic rising from the soles of my feet. Every tiny brush of the wind became a snake inching its way toward me on the trail.
My FSIL* (*Fearless Sister-in-Law) trudged ahead of me. And it was a happy gait, a looking-forward-to-something walk, not a cautious one.
"You can put everything in here," GuideNumberTwoWithTheConfidentDreadlocks pointed to the outdoor lockers. "You don't want anything to fall out of your pockets."
We stepped into the harness and helmet line. What could possibly happen to us? I asked myself. This equipment looks plenty safe. If there was any doubt, they would have had us sign a waiver, right?
As if he had read my mind, my brother said, "Does Mexico not require waivers?"
I pointed at a woman waiting off to the side. "If they'll let a pregnant woman do it, it's got to be fine."
That fizzy feeling disappeared from the bottoms of my feet. Temporarily. But wait. Were they going to make me hold the parrot? Didn't I hear they have really sharp talons?
I wedged myself safely in between husband and daughter for the parrot picture. The inside person didn't have to hold anything but those ultra-padded leather gloves. They were like part of a super hero costume.
They sat us down on wooden bleachers for the Rule Talk. I scooted a safe distance from the long, pointy lizards who were lounging on the middle step.
As GuideNumberOne gave the talk, GuideNumberTwoWithTheConfidentDreadlocks demonstrated.
This was important, but my mind was doing this fizzy thing, and all I was hearing was: blah blah blah... Don't Put Your Hand in Front of the Pulley...blah blah...Slam Into Tree...blah blah blah...Hanging Two Hundred Feet Above the Ground...
And my favorite: We highly recommend you go upside down.
Both guides paused and smiled at us. "So raise your hand if you're going upside down!"
18-year-old niece's hand shot up, along with my FSIL.
I can do this. If they can do it, so can I. My hand crept halfway up.
"Let's go!" The guides pointed up the trail.
And then came the endlessly steep and rickety steps. Or maybe it was my legs that were rickety.
"These don't feel that sturdy," Husband Who is A Mechanical Engineer pointed out behind me.
And then it was my turn.
"You ready?" GuideNumberThree had mysteriously appeared at the top of the platform.
My hands searched frantically for something to hold onto on the tree trunk. Nothing. Of course. I don't think there were even any branches left that high up. "I'm not going upside down," I told him two or three (or seventy-five, maybe) times.
"It's okay, amiga. Sit down. You can try that on the third one. Now lean back and go!"
And he shoved me. Fast. I guess that's why they call it a zip line.
Was that a tree right in front of me? I hurled closer to it. Faster and faster. I am going to slam into the tree.
My stomach lurched. Would I still be able to stop myself if I was throwing up?
Something else was in front of me. Wait. It was someone. My brother. So not only was I going to die, I was going to take out my brother, too.
Suddenly one of The Rules popped into my head. Pull on the wire. Create friction to slow down. Don't touch in front of the pulley. It's not protected.
I can do this. I pulled on the wire. It was working! I felt myself slowing down. Uh-oh. I was slowing down a little too much. I was stopped.
And then came the humiliating part. I still had about a dozen feet to go. GuideNumberFour mysteriously appeared, pulling himself backward toward me from the next platform, and towed me in. He wasn't happy. I could tell.
Miraculously I made it to the next platform. This wasn't so bad. I literally sailed above the trees. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Until...
"Okay," Guide Number Five said. "Now for the real one."
That couldn't be possible. I almost died on a practice one?
I searched futilely for a bathroom and/or an exit. There were ten more zip lines and ten more narrow, steep, rickety ladders to go.
But I couldn't think. My mind was mush and my legs were rubber. Meanwhile, FSIL is getting happily strapped in a couple people ahead of me--upside down.
I shouldn't have watched her, but I did. She was literally dangling upside down from her waist, her arms reaching for the ground almost two hundred feet below. And she was smiling.
"I'm not going upside down," I told the next guide on the platform.
"You lost your name tag," he said, obviously trying to distract me.
"It's Ann," I said, thinking those could very well be my last words.
"Oh, I remember your name," he said, with a hint of a smirk.
I made it, as you might have surmised, since I'm writing this blog. All twelve of them. Right side up, but I only had to get hauled in on the first one.
We sat together on the ground later, me with my extended family. The Seven Victors who had conquered the Extreme Mexican Zip Lines.
They brought over the pictures that had been mysteriously taken along the way. The video was starting on the monitor, and I settled in to watch.
There is my daughter, my nieces, my brother, and my husband, zooming toward the camera. And there is my FSIL (upside down, of course), sailing toward me on the screen.
So which part of my daring, brave trip got videoed? Yep. There I was--getting hauled to safety by the guide at the end of that first zip line.
But I couldn't dwell on it. There was no time. It was over. It was time to go to the alligator infested swimming pit. Back to the trail.
Wait. Was that a snake next to me?