At ToroVerde, the largest adventure park in the Caribbean, the views are as breathtaking as the daredevil ziplines
I’m hanging on a wire 50 meters high on top of a mountain in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. The views are breathtaking: voluptuous slopes of emerald and jade glisten in the morning sun; neighboring peaks pass by in the distance. But views are irrelevant.
I’m not literally hanging by a wire – two steel cables separate me from certain death – but I’m no less helpless, no less terrified. The valley floor far below me, I swing in the breeze, halfway through the last of eight zip lines connected to ToroVerde (“Green Bull”), the largest adventure park in the Caribbean.
This might not be the best place for someone who is afraid of heights.
I blame my friend, longtime resident Bob Misulich and his partner, Rebecca Keddie. They have graciously hosted my wife and I for the past few days as we toured the port of San Juan by mini-boat, strolled the cobbled streets past pastel-painted colonial buildings, and visited the century-old castle of San Felipe del Morro.
ToroVerde is their idea. This attraction, about a 90-minute drive from San Juan, offers a main series of eight ziplines, in addition to “the monster” (a 2.5-kilometer cable, billed as the second-longest zipline in the world) and “the beast” (only slightly less terrifying at 1.4 kilometers long). The park also includes an obstacle course, climbing towers and the longest bicycle zipline in the world, recognized by Guinness.
The prospect of visiting this must-see has haunted me all week, despite my friends’ enthusiasm. The day before our getaways, over dinner and piña coladas at the Barrachin in Old San Juan, Bob yells, “Excited for tomorrow? »
I wait before answering, watching the flamenco dancers, listening to the guitars and castanets. It’s nice to know that so far I’ve been able to keep my terror of Bob and Rebecca a secret.
“Excited is not the word.” I order another piña colada.
There are two reasons for my sudden thirst. A plaque affixed outside Barrachina advertises it as the place where the sparkling pineapple-coconut cocktail was invented. The second reason? Toro Verde.
The next morning, strapped in a harness that made escape impossible, my sweaty head in an orange helmet, I walked over a steep wooden bridge before climbing a steep path to the first zip line.
I hear a bloodcurdling scream above my head. I look up to see someone zipping above me on a zip line dropping into the valley below.
Bob smiles. “The Monster. We’ll do that next.
At the first platform, pride overcomes fear. My wife does it, Rebecca does it, Bob does it. I do, flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Kind of.
Zip line two: easy to do. Zip line three: cake.
I am now at the eighth and last line of the sequence. Now I remember: each stage is more intense than the previous one. “Can I get down from here?” I ask the staff member who attaches my harness to the frighteningly insignificant strand of wire.
You are expected to assume a specific position to ensure success. Halfway, I forget the position. Now I’m swinging, 15 yards from safety.
I don’t know how long I’ve been suspended above the valley floor, but my life – or at least the last days of it – flash before my eyes.
I remember our second day of snorkelling, visiting a multitude of islands on a catamaran off the east coast, watching kitesurfers surf the west coast waves, cocooning in our Royal Isabela villa. In those brief moments, I reflect on Puerto Rico’s myriad attractions, vowing to return to this delightful island, if I survived today.
After an eternity, a staff member rushes over to me, grabs me, and pulls me safely, albeit ignominiously, to the platform.
“Now the monster,” says Bob.
Part of our party is freaking out. Part of our party does not.
Hanging from a metaphorical thread, Bob and Rebecca plunge to the bottom of the valley at 150 kilometers per hour.
Meanwhile, comfortably installed on the observation deck, I sip a very large, very cold piña colada.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION