Lumberjack International: Jumping off Cliffs, Crashing into Trees, and Other Ways to Impress 12-Year-Olds

Whilst voyaging the Caribbean this past summer, I learned a few things.  First of all, it is still not alright to drink unfiltered water in third-world countries.  One might think that contracting the same parasite in two different locations on different trips is absurd, but I like to think that I was just getting in touch with the creatures of the Earth.  Even the nasty bugs are a part of this fine ecosystem, and now I know the words Blastocystis hominis.  And knowing is half the battle!

Secondly, little kids are impressed by anything they cannot yet do.  Backflips are particularly effective in eliciting cheers from all ages.  Backflips are key.  The reason I bring up the subject of impressing pre-teens is because on the cruise that I had been forced to participate in, the majority of the population was between the ages of 7 and 14.  Not that I regularly feel the need to impress the prepubescent demographic, but it was almost unavoidable, being so comparatively cool.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Yucatán Peninsula is a beautiful and arresting place.  My previous Latino travels had taken place solely in Panama, so the Mayan ruins took me by surprise as astoundingly majestic; solid tributes to time’s passage among trees of ever shifting shades.  It was weird, to take a break from people and climb up the side of a ziggurat.  I don’t often get to use the word ziggurat, so I feel it important to emphasize it by saying ziggurat twice more.  Ziggurat.  Thrice.

Combine all these lessons and what results is a barebones outline of a cruise that focused mainly on exploration of coolness in its many cultural adaptations.  As it turns out, backflips are universally cool.  Having never done a backflip off of a cliff into a cave lagoon, my audience were not the only ones impressed by my acrobatic successes in Cozumel.  I decided to then do a gainer and then a 360 front flip.

Both tricks were met with moderate applause, so I did what any dude would do when confronted with a cliff; I climbed higer.  A backflip off the very top of the cave face was my crowning achievement, and even the guides and their kids were amazed.  Unfortunately the cave water smelled like rotten eggs, so I smelled like rotten eggs for a little bit longer than everyone else on the excursion.

A little bit later, while zipping through the Mexican highlands in dune buggies, attempting to impress the trees I guess, I was speeding a tad bit excessively.  Drifting around corners looks pretty darn cool, as the drivers behind me told me after the ride, and I had it in under control until shale surprised my with unreliable traction.  Soon enough, I was headed straight for a palm tree, tires spinning wildly.

With the last ninja-esque impulse in my nervous system, I managed to crank the steering wheel to the right just far enough to avoid a frontal collision.  I did, however, manage to snap the right front axle clean in half, and I was provided with a replacement buggie.  I overheard their Spanish banter, a language I am fluent in, which centered mostly upon how they thought I was going to die, especially since nobody had ever taken their buggies past 30 mph and I had been going 35 mph.  The guides were less upset about the broken buggie, and more impressed that I continued to drive at the same breakneck speed without crashing again.

Though I went many places during my sea travels, my favorite of the locales is by far Roatán island, belonging to Honduras.  Instead of going on a cruise-led excursion, I ventured off the boat and into town in search of a cold, foreign soda.  What I ended up finding was an unforgettable zip lining experience built into a mountainside jungle-gulch, hidden away from conglomerate eyes.  I spent 20 dollars and three hours soaring across the sky of Roatán, and it was damn worth it.  There was even a petting zoo at the end, and I fed a baby monkey.  Sometimes, the most impressing sights can’t be gauged on the audiences’ response, but seen through your own eyes.

Have a good week!

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