[Puerto Rico] Toro Verde Zip-line Adventure

Zip-lining Puerto Rico Toro Verde

Haven’t we all, at some point, wished we could fly? I know that was always my super power of choice when I was a little kid, you know, like Peter Pan and stuff. Still, with age, I have developed a sometimes irrational fear of heights. I even get the jiggles if I get too close to the bars of a balcony, even if it’s not that high.

This month, I got to channel my inner child and fearless Girl Scout spirit while zip-lining at Toro Verde in Puerto Rico. Toro Verde is an adventure park in the middle of the mountains (Orocovis, to be exact). I actually did not know that there are more miles of zip-line cables in this adventure park than any other park in the world!

Puerto Rico Toro Verde

If you are visiting Puerto Rico, Toro Verde is a must. Not only do you get to experience some thrill, but there is also so much beauty to take in and delicious food to eat along the way (more on that soon!).

 Puerto Rico Toro Verde

I recommend you keep an eye out for flash deals that regularly come up for the adventure packages. Either way, the money you pay is worth it. I did the regular zip-line tour ending with “La Bestia” (The Beast).

Last (and only) time I did zip-lining was in Costa Rica in 2004. I don’t recall it having been challenging. This time for me, the first cables were the hardest (although they are technically the easiest). I was nervous and afraid, what if my long hair got stuck on the cable?! What if I accidentally put my fingers in the wrong spot and they got chopped off by the equipment?! These were my fears. My mother’s fears were more along the lines of “What if I fall?!” – I guess that made more sense. I honestly did not even fear the heights on the first few because I was so focused on looking at the cable that I did not even look down.

Zip-lining Puerto Rico Toro Verde

Then, it was time for la bestia (cue for roar). The beast is the highest and second longest cable in the world. I believe the tour guide mentioned that the longest one is in South Africa, but don’t quote me on that.

Zip-lining Puerto Rico Toro Verde

You get all prepped up and told you will be laying face down and flying all the way to the other side for like a minute and a half. It seemed scary, but once I was in the harness waiting my turn, all I felt was peace. It was SO weird to feel calm and steady when I was diving across unknown heights in the middle of the mountains. I did not have to worry about any cables because I was going to be lying down so I was like, poof, no worries here!

They pushed me and so I started flying. What a freaking fabulous feeling. I was a bird. Like, as much as a bird as a human can be. I felt the wind on my face as I was zipping around and I was able to take in all the beautiful sights around me. There was a little river, I saw some birds flying near by, it was all wonderful. All I could think was how amazing it felt to be so close with nature and fly. I also thought, damn, I wish I had a GoPro strapped up on my helmet!

Zip-lining Puerto Rico Toro Verde

Seriously, if you are ever in Puerto Rico, experience the beast. It’s breath-taking and I would even consider it a therapy session. I had forgotten the thrilling sensation of facing your fears and the adrenaline rush that comes with it. Big thanks to our tour guides (pictured above) they really took us through this adventure and always made sure we were comfortable, safe and having fun!

Puerto Rico Toro Verde

P.S. Zip-lining: When you learn the value of fanny packs.

Breaking Standards, Savoring Irony

hands free

They say we are young and restless, but some days that’s not how we feel. We are lost in a sea of loans and bills, looking out at the stars with all their glimmering cheer. We dream of places far away, our thirst unquenched, our fears unlisted.

We want to go places but we know we can’t fly. We are tied to the puppeteer, but we always want to dance. Time is unknown, just something we’ve heard of.

We are easily inspired with a fleeting desire that gets lost in the city lights.

– Cristina Nogueras ©

city lights

 

Photo Credits:

http://enjoythefood.tumblr.com/post/69846548946

http://parisfog.tumblr.com/post/69743392968

Hurricane Sandy, One Year Later

“It can’t be that bad, it won’t be that bad. It’s gonna be ok, It has to be ok.”

These were the types of thoughts that were running through my mind on that ferry ride from Manhattan to Hoboken that 31 of October of 2012.

A year ago today, Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. As Wikipedia puts it, “was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.” I live in Hoboken, one of the areas affected by the hurricane.

It was Halloween weekend, nobody cared there was a super storm coming our way. People went out, football games went on and life seemed to go on normally without any bigger concerns than halloween costume choices. Then the red flags start going up and as the natural freak out person that I am, I start panicking when my landlord mentions that I might be getting “a little bit” of water into my room. You need to realize that my room was located in the basement of my apartment. I proceeded to take out half of my room into the kitchen (higher than my room) and elevated my bed with plastic flower pots because there was nothing better I could get at the hardware store.

Both New Jersey and New York started evacuating plans the day before the storm and one of my good friends welcomed me into her Upper East home. Sandy came, Sandy left… I did not feel a thing. We did not lose power and although it rained, it was nothing compared to what I was seeing in the news.

An idea of what I was watching in the news - Image from http://www.outsideonline.com/blog/outdoor-adventure/hurricane-sandy-liveblog.html

An idea of what I was watching in the news, this is the train I take to work every morning – Image from http://www.outsideonline.com/blog/outdoor-adventure/hurricane-sandy-liveblog.html

“My room flooded. No way it could have not flooded.”

With every single footage shown of Hoboken, I lost a little drop of hope.

There was no way I could reach Hoboken from Manhattan. No trains, no buses, no nothing. Then the ferries started to work and me and my roommate found ourselves going against the flow of people that were abandoning Hoboken to seek shelter in upper Manhattan. Red flag.

I obviously got the ferry route wrong so we ended up in Weehaken (north of Hoboken) and we had no choice but to walk all the way to our apartment (about 25 minutes).

What a sight.

It really felt like something taken out of a post-apocalyptic movie. I saw people draining their houses, furniture floating around, and the look on their faces was a deep mixture of hope and despair, as little sense as that makes.

When I arrived to my apartment the stench gave it away. I went down the stairs to my room and evidently, everything in my room was ruined. The bed had collapsed and everything I had raised had fallen to the floor. With the electricity being gone, I faced a dark and stinking room… I broke down. I remember sitting in the kitchen floor and crying because I did not know what to do. It’s interesting to see how easily humans lose perspective. I had seen complete houses crumbled and flooded while I walked to my apartment, but at that moment all I could see was my loss.

My roommate truly helped me through. She did not hesitate, started making things better and kept telling me that it was going to be alright. It’s amazing what that can do, just to have someone tell you that something is going to be alright, even when they might not be so sure about it themselves. I am thankful of all the network of people that were quickly activated upon my request for help. I had lost all my furniture, some of my clothes and all of my shoes (I know, shoes!).

Now that I’m actually sitting down and writing about this, it doesn’t sound as bad as it felt. I am beyond thankful about all the help I received from everyone in my life. From coworkers to friends, everyone was there for me and that was worth more than what I had lost. I remember someone told me “It’s all material stuff”. It really was.

Sure, it was no peaches and cream. I had no bedroom for over a month, but then I remembered the faces I saw walking down to my apartment that day and I realized how blessed I was. I see the pictures of the damage across the tri-state area and I know that what I suffered was nothing compared to those who lost their homes and even their loved ones.

“Stronger than the storm”

Some may find it cheesy, but that’s really what it’s all about. Being stronger than the storm and being able to dance in the rain, or being able to jump and clap your hands around, I know not everyone is a good dancer so whatever rocks your socks.

 

The thrill of the ride: “Toto, I have a feeling I’m not 10 anymore”

sixflags

Maybe I’m getting old.

I know, I’m being ridiculous, I’m only 23 years old. The best years are yet to come, right? That’s what people keep saying so I’m gonna hold on to that.

Last weekend I visited Six Flags Great Adventure and after about five years, I got back on a roller coaster. Maybe it was that the first roller coaster I chose was a little weird since you had to stand throughout the ride or maybe it was that I’m getting old… but it was NOT pleasant. I kept feeling pain in my back, I was anxious and I thought I was going to die. I kept making up scenarios on my head of my safety bar being released and me jetting out to the sky and landing flat on my face.

What is wrong with me?

Not that I was this fearless little girl before, by no means. You are talking to the girl that used to be scared of electrical stairs, believe me there’s a story behind it, I had my reasons. But at least before I would think less of the consequences and focus more on the thrill of the ride.

Now, if you are worrying about me thinking that this poor young lady threw away her money at Six Flags, don’t you worry child, I had a blast. I made a little mantra telling myself that it was going to be alright, that if everyone else was doing it, why couldn’t I? I also released all of my worries and enjoyed the ride for what it was… a thrill.

I think riding roller coasters should be a form of therapy. You can scream without being judged (well, at least that’s what I want to believe), you can let go and enjoy the thrill without worrying about anything else because for that short period of time, you are suspended into the air, part of a wave and you don’t need to control anything… you can be free.

Sounds amazing and liberating right? It is, until you get out and see your picture on the screen and notice you looked more like a frightful chicken than a human being.