One Gutsy thing I did in Belize

Only seven women signed up for the zip-lining and cave-tubing tour in Belize, and they were half my age. With a life-long fear of heights, I forced myself to be Gutsy, and play Tarzan for a day.

Our adventure started the minute we boarded a retired American school bus and bounced all the way to Jaguar Paw Jungle Reserve, a tribal style resort located on 215 acres of jungle reserve in the heart of Belize. The Caves Branch River meandered through the jungle with several miles of underground caves where the Mayans once lived and worshiped.

Two young Belizean men led us on a steep path to our starting point in the heart of the jungle’s lush, tropical canopy. After a brief lecture on the equipment we’d be using, I told Louis I was scared of heights. “You’ll be safe,” he said. “We have two steel cables on each of the eight rides so you’re doubly protected.” We each wore a metal helmet which I assumed was to protect our head in case we crashed into a tree trunk.

Oscar, Sonia and Louis at Jaguar Paw, Belize

I started working out when these young girls were still in diapers, and my years of weight training finally paid off. My arms lifted me with ease, and Louis snapped my belt to the cable. We each stepped into a harness which Louis tightened firmly against our waist and hips. He then fastened the harness clasps to the steel cables and a safety leash secured us to a massive tree trunk at each of the eight landing stations. We looked like seven monkeys tied to a tree trunk, forty feet up in the jungle canopy.

Our first platform was knee-shaking high. “So who’s ready to go first?” Louis asked.

A short skinny girl raised her hand. “I will.”

Louis gave a brief lecture, then instructed the girl to put on her heavy-duty industrial type gloves.

“Put your left hand around all the ropes. Your right hand slides behind you on the bottom cable. The right glove is reinforced with a thick leather pad, so you don’t rub a hole through it and end up with a bloody hand. Use your right hand for braking. If you need to break, you’ll pull down on the cable with that hand.”

“How do we know if we need to break?” I asked.

“We’ll make this type of motion,” he said, waving his hand up and down.

I hoped we were done with all the instructions as I started getting confused.

“Are you ready? Let’s get started,” Louis said.

Oscar, the other guide, demonstrated our first ride to the second platform, about ninety feet away. He made it look fun and easy.

Our first volunteer started her Tarzanna trip, screaming, as she zipped along, though not as smoothly as Oscar had demonstrated.

I decided to be fourth in line—my favorite number for good luck. I concentrated so hard on technique, that before I knew it, I’d reached the other side. What happened? This was really no big deal. My fear of heights didn’t even enter into the equation as I focused so hard on the task. Thankfully, I’d forgotten to look down. Everyone except poor Tracy, became experts at inter-tree air-borne travel.

Sonia flying through the trees like Tarzan

The grand finale was getting down from the last platform. No we didn’t have the luxury of a staircase or a ladder, we had to repel. We were instructed to squat, grab the rope on the edge of the platform, hang over and control our descent with a hand lever. A slight pull could send you flying, so the exact contraction on the rope was critical.

All of us struggled with the repelling, but I reminded myself not to look down and that helped. Once again poor Tracy was last. It took Oscar a good ten minutes to prep her. She accidentally released the lever too quickly, which sent her flying at top speed. Her terror stricken shriek ended when Oscar controlled the security lever from above and succeeded in aborting her free fall a third of the way down.

“I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this,” I said to Louis, all proud of my accomplishment. One by one we waited for our security gear to be taken off and headed to the Jaguar Paw Lodge, where we met the less brave who spent the day at the zoo.

After a typical Belizean lunch of chicken, rice and beans, our group of seven women hiked towards the underground river and caves, each one carrying an inner-tube into the jungle. Now we were ready to see some Mayan artifacts.

 What one Gutsy thing have you done that you remember?


 Remember to come back and vote on January 1st-11th for your favorite December “My Gutsy Story” 


REMEMBER TO VOTE on January 1-11 for your favorite December "My Gutsy Story."

Comments (29)

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  1. Absolutely love this snippet of your time in Belize, Sonia! =) This is a great example of being gutsy and I love that tip about focusing in on the task so intently, so other fears fall along the wayside. =) And those are definitely some muscular arms you have!

    Off the top of my head, something gutsy I’ve done is just off the high diving board at a pool. Unfortunately, I landed on my thigh and had a huge bruise that summer. Haha! But it was gutsy for me. =P
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted..Home Is Where the Heart Is in Peru and CanadaMy Profile

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      Thanks Samantha. You know, when I was 16, I tried the swallow dive off a 10 metre platform 6 times. I succeeded, but have never tried it since. That is one scary dive. You must have hurt yourself.

  2. How fun!! I totally want to try that out sometime 🙂
    J. A. Bennett recently posted..Young BloodMy Profile

  3. Chaa Creek says:

    Zip lining is always fun in Belize! I am going zip lining soon.

  4. Joy says:

    Wow..I would love to try this!
    I thought you meant one gutsy thing this answer would be “I fell in love..with a person who travels consistently..*even though* my entire life I have said I ‘don’t do’ long distance.
    So, one gutsy thing I did from the past is to realize a life long dream of living on a boat. Five years ago, myself and my two young children moved on a sailboat and that made me one of the very few single moms on my coast raising my children aboard a boat. The first year was quite a transition, each year after had such a flow..and I learned tons about myself..but most importantly my children and I learned transparency and magic and peace and love to the nth degree:)

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      Joy, you have to write your “My Gutsy Story” about living on a boat as a single mom with two children for five years. That’s amazing. I’d love to hear more, and so would everyone else. I’m so happy for you that you fell in love. Is your mate living with you on your sailboat? Please let us know. Thanks, Sonia.

  5. Doreen Cox says:

    Loved your gutsy adventure, Sonia! Brought me back to my 9-day Outward Bound adventure in the mountains of North Carolina. I could feel the zing of anticipatory fear (the good kind) as I read your words and looked at the joy on your face in the picture on the zip line. Awesome!!! Thanks for the memories :@) Oh, when is the cave-tubing story to be shared?
    Doreen Cox recently posted..Please make your local bookstores and libraries aware of this great book. The mo…My Profile

  6. Sonia Marsh says:

    Thanks for asking about the cave-tubing. I hadn’t thought of that, but now you’ve given me a reason to share this story too.
    Did you zip-line in North Carolina?

  7. Winsomebella says:

    Love this example of pushing through fear to reach a point called gutsy. Your series has shown that guts comes in many, many forms. But in all cases, it must be celebrated. Thank you for reminding me of that. Zippity do da hooray!
    Winsomebella recently posted..The Last Glorious MomentMy Profile

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      Winsombella, You’re right. Guts does come in many forms, small and big, and they all deserve to be recognized. Have a Happy and Gutsy New Year.

  8. Lady Fi says:

    Sounds great fun and also terrifying! I’m scared of heights and bungee jumped twice – but it still hasn’t cured me!
    Lady Fi recently posted..The return of the lightMy Profile

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      LadyFi, I’m impressed. Bungee jumping is not something I could do. Remember the 80-year-old lady that went sky-diving? She told me that bungee jumping can damage your retina. never heard of that before, Have you?

  9. Stephanie says:

    Yes, that was gutsy! I’ve only ever been on a very small zipwire in a kids’ playground. It was fun, but then there was nothing to hit and I wasn’t way up in the tree tops!
    Stephanie recently posted..Skating on Thin Plastic – Ice That Isn’t!My Profile

  10. Sonia Marsh says:

    Stephanie, was that in France?

  11. Penelope J says:

    Wow, Sonia, my hat is off to you. Zip-lining sounds like fun and something I’d love to do. Now that I’m getting older, I want to try all those adventurous things that I missed doing when I went cave tubing in Maya land in Mexico, and para gliding, but the most daring thing that I can think of – among others – was when my ex-husband and I went exploring in an area that turned out to be in the midst of guerilla warfare in Mexico.
    Penelope J recently posted..Never Give Up on Your DreamMy Profile

    • Sonia Marsh says:

      Now Pennie,

      That tops my list. Exploring an area in the midst of guerilla warfare, even if by accident, must top the list. What adventurous things did you miss doing?

  12. BLOGitse says:

    Gutsy New Year 2012!
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  13. Kelli says:

    Were you BAREFOOT on this zip line????
    That is so awesome!!!
    Kelli recently posted..BittersweetMy Profile

  14. Sonia Marsh says:

    Yes Kelli. No shoes! Have you tried it?

  15. MuMuGB says:

    It looks like fun! Well done for trying it…I tried sand boarding in Dubai but it is less scary than what you did! The problem, for me, is to convince myself that it will be OK! Somehow I Always worry…
    MuMuGB recently posted..Grumpy GrumpyMy Profile

  16. Sonia, I don’t like heights or jungles, so this was trutly “gutsy.”

    Hope you had a great Christmas and are off to a great new year.
    Warren Baldwin recently posted.."Thanks for Not Aborting Me"My Profile

    • Sonia Marsh says:


      So we feel the same about heights.
      Had a wonderful Christmas and New year with family and friends. Hope you did too.

  17. Amanda says:

    you are truly gutsy sonia – way to go! love the fotos of you flying through the air with the greatest of ease!

    wishing you and your family all the best that 2012 has to offer ~


    Amanda recently posted..still hearing the echoesMy Profile

  18. […] our morning of zip-lining and repelling, we welcomed a quick Belizean lunch consisting of chicken, rice and beans, with […]