If the flip flops fall off, they will most definitely plummet 600 feet to their demise in the Sierra Madre mountains. I find myself wondering: will they whirl like maple keys do, or dive straight down into a rocky canyon below? Together? Or one at a time?
Flip flops were the first questionable choice we made this morning. I am excruciatingly hopeful that this two hour zip lining Canopy River Tours adventure is not the second.
Comfortable shoes, said the itinerary for this family adventure. But tween girl, soon to be teen girl, walked out the door of Casa Magna Marriott wearing these. I didn’t pay attention. There comes a point where a tween flips a switch and is transformed into teenager. This metamorphosis has been occurring at times slowly for two years, and then rapidly erupting in bursts of hostile door slamming and wilful even defiant moments. Chronologically this transformation is less than two weeks away. At this point of the game I am not supervising shoe choices. Bigger battles and all of that.
I watch the flip flops jump off a tiny platform in the Sierra Madre mountains. I hear their owner whooping with joy. I spy her curled up cute toes clutching tight to the foamy rubber beach shoes that are most definitely not meant for hiking, rappelling and zip lining. The rainforest closes around her and, her shoes.
My daughter Payton is zip lining through the mountains at Canopy River. Behind her there are four bloggers and one photographer snapping photos all the way and two skilled Canopy River Tours guides. I kick myself metaphorically for not embracing this part of the trip and jumping into the unknown right behind her. My fear of heights wins this round. Luckily tween, soon to be teen had no fear of heights, or any other thing. I heart that about her.
This morning we swam with dolphins and cooled off with sea lions at Dolphin Discovery, Puerto Vallarta, before hopping into an open air bus that travelled up the steep mountain. Along the way we spied Mexican pickup trucks parked at the side of the road, selling pineapples and coconuts off the flatbed of their trucks. We are passengers taking snapshots of tin roofed huts that are homes, villages that seem so tenuous a strong wind might collapse them. Roosters cluster in dry backyard plots, stray dogs and cats roam the mountainside. Ten minutes further up the mountains, we spy three or four families sitting on rocks and inner tubes immersed in the water, cooling off.
A hot, bumpy ride later and the bus parks at top of a mountain. We see restaurant, exotic flowers and trees with hammocks strung in them. The boundless Mexican sky is threatening rain. Together, we suit up for two hours of zip lining down the Puerto Vallarta countryside. The tour guides go through their spiel about safety. Always remember to hold on to the black handles. Lean back. Helmet on, enjoy the ride. Twist the handle of what looks like a swing back and forth when you spy the platform and need to slow down. I hope she remembers the rules. She is still, after all, 12.
Last year for Payton’s 12th birthday we zip lined at a waterpark in Ohio. It was memorable and fun, but nothing at all like this. It was maybe 50 feet high in the air. Here Canopy River, a brilliant outdoor excursion business consists of 12 different zip lines. It is a family run business, built on a piece of land the family owned and intended to keep, so they constructed an adventure excursion business that mentors family members in and trains them young. The topography of the Puerto Vallarta canyon and hillside is stunning and exquisite. There are points here where the height is 709 feet. Payton leans back fearlessly and screams happy, but slightly terrified, shrieks as she cast off for the first leg of the zipline. There are twelve lines in total. Today the group does eight or nine.
The flip flops land attached to my daughter’s feet safely in a clearing in the rainforest and they take their turn rappelling off the face of a really high rock. One by one the group takes turns following the instructions of the tour guides at Canopy River tours. Cast on to the rope, push off the edge and lower down the rock slowly. Gloves on, flip flops still in tact, Payton says she was more concerned about rope burn than the height, or the shoes. At the bottom of the rock face, after landing on solid ground, an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
“I felt proud because I felt like I had done a lot lot of hard work at this point,” Payton told me later. “I was also feeling a bit exhausted.”
In the middle of all of this amazing activity there is also a suspension bridge. Later Payton will say that was one of her favourite parts. “Riding a suspension bridge was a hoot, because I jumped up and down to freak some of the others out. The tour guides were jumping too.” The only part that was frightening truly was when someone in the group joked that there were man eating monkeys in the forest. Someone else made noises and whooped and my girl’s imagination got the best of her. Just for a short period of time. Then the appeal of a donkey ride down hill back to the top of Canopy River.
I was having a great time and the tour guides were fantastic,” she said.
“I didn’t want to drop into the water and they helped.”
At the end of the two hours I am shooting pictures on my iPhone when I finally spy the group walking a bit slower than they were at the start of the tour. My eyes start to tear up as I realize flip flops still on her feet, she made it through this Canopy River Tours adventure worthy of challenging any adult. My kids are in fact braver than me most days of the week, even in strange exotic locales. She asks me for money at end of the tour. We settle on a $10 US bill because the guides were that good with one of my most precious people in the world and because this will be an adventure she will remember for decades. Lately my tween talks in text speak and sometimes funny new vernacular creeps into my one vocabulary. Last year it was Epic. Everything was Epic. Last year this tour would have passed the epic standards of a 12-year-old. This year the term is almost a suffix – Like a Boss. I finished my grading ‘like a boss.’ I ran like a boss. I nailed it like a boss. Today she zip lined like a boss at Canopy River, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in flip flops.
Canopy River Tours
is a family run adventure tour business in Puerto Vallarta. We both highly recommend it.
My daughter and I were both guests in Puerto Vallarta in June.
You can read the rest of our posts about the trip, and the many amazing experiences we had.
Snorkelling and Hiking tour in Yelapa. It was hosted by Puerto Vallarta Adventures. You can read the rest of my posts about Puerto Vallarta here:
Dolphin Discovery (my daughter’s favourite part of the trip.)