~ by Jack Ewing
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In 1996, at Hacienda Barú, we built a platform 32 meters above the ground at the top of an huge rainforest tree, and inaugurated the Canopy Platform tour. Even though it took place in the treetops, far above the rainforest floor, it was really about ecology, not adrenaline. However, the biggest adventure of my guiding career took place one afternoon on the canopy platform.
A couple and their two young girls, ages 4 and 6, wanted to see the rainforest canopy. My job was attending to the clients on the platform, and my assistant, Juan Ramón, was on the ground.
First, he hoisted me up to the platform with an electric winch; the kids and their father were next. A light rain began falling; shortly after, he got to the top and a violent thunderstorm hit. Juan Ramón informed me by radio that he couldn’t send their mother up because the rain was so hard that he couldn’t see the platform.
We huddled in a circle in the center of the platform to shield ourselves from the storm. Violent wind gusts twisted the top of the tree and whipped it back and forth. Lightning struck around us. I had never been so scared in my life, but I couldn’t let the clients know that. Adrenaline started flowing.
I shouted to the father there was nothing to worry about. “This tree is strong,” I assured him. “It has endured hundreds of storms like this, and will endure many more.” After 20 minutes, the rain, wind, and lightning gradually weakened. Once Juan Ramón could see the platform, we lowered everyone to the ground.
I was thinking that we should refund our clients, when the father approached me and shook my hand.
“Thank you for the most marvelous adventure of my life. I am so happy that my daughters had this opportunity to experience something that most people can’t even imagine.”