One day, we went up into the jungle to try out the zip lines. Our youngest son, Tian Tian, has Down Syndrome and was eleven years old at the time. We really worried he wouldn't be able to do it. The first zip line was purposefully designed to be easy and slow, to help prepare people for some of the others that can go at speeds nearing forty-five miles an hour (over 70 kph). We hoped that by starting out with that line, Tian Tian wouldn't be too frightened to continue to the others.
One of the zip guys got into the harness and helped Tian Tian in with him. It was raining a bit and he really doesn't like to get wet. He looked at us like we were sending him to his death. Everyone thought he'd cry or panic. But as soon as he was out in the air and zipped across the canyon, he cheered and yelled with delight. Once we joined him on the opposite side, he immediately told us he didn't want our help on any other lines—he wanted to ride with the zip guys who'd just become his best friends.
|Tian Tian & his zip line buddies|
After riding all the zips, the guide steered our group toward the tequila tasting bar. My wife and I have never been drinkers, mostly because our religion frowns on it. But more than that, we had four children with us, none of whom were drinking age.
|Ro Ro swings over the jungle river|
Eventually, it was time to head back down to the city and we boarded an open-air bus that had a tarp suspended above the seats. It was raining even harder at that point—the warm rain of the tropics—and everyone was soaked. And our kids got an instant education in what it's like to be around a bunch of people who'd gotten soaked in a different way. The whole crowd on the bus was quite tipsy from the tequila, and they laughed, sang, joked, and had a ball all the way down the winding mountain road. Every corner we rounded brought down a torrent of water from the tarp onto everyone sitting near the sides, and roars of laughter from everyone in the middle. They never seemed to tire of it, even though the same thing happened at every turn.
We were all pretty tired when we returned to the hotel. But it was a great day, where we'd once again met a bunch of strangers who were willing to go out of their way to assist a young child with a disability. And of course, we also got entertained by all the tequila, even though none of us drank even a drop.