I am being strapped into a harness.
Now there is a line I never thought I would be sharing with you.
And the person strapping me in is a woman called Le Ann.
Now that probably shocks you more than the first line.
Le Ann is young, trim and attractive. The fit of the harness is very important and Le Ann is rather nervous as she is quite new to this line of work and hasn’t fitted many men with a harness before. This is my very first venture into such accessories, so I too am nervous. Le Ann blushes and giggles a lot and every comment I make seems to make her laugh some more. We are perfect for each other
My fitting is being supervised by Lea, who watches Le Ann’s every move with a critical eye. Lea too is an attractive woman but she cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called trim. However she does have all the curves in the right places. She has a large welcoming bosom, an easy smile and a devilish laugh. We hit it off immediately. She gets my English sense of humour and gives it right back.
To be quite truthful, I am being fitted for two harnesses. One is a body harness and the other a chest harness. The body harness has to be stepped into and pulled up tightly into the crotch. It’s a delicate operation.
“Make sure each piece of furniture is in the right room” Lea says, “because I am not touching anything in that area”
I feign disappointment and Lea releases her wicked laugh
“And I don’t do furniture repair” she adds with more laughter.
Le Ann doesn’t know whether to blush or laugh, so she does both.
My body has never had so many straps wrapped around it, and sartorially speaking, each one fits rather too snuggly. And some are in places that were never designed for straps. I feel like the Michelin man on a bad day. I cannot be a pretty sight, but Lea has made sure there is not a mirror in view.
Just when I thought I could not be humiliated any more, Le Ann hands me a powder blue hairnet and tells me that I have to put that on. Then on top of the hairnet goes a yellow helmet. Of course it is at that point that Gordon decides to take my photo
Terminal Tours of the Caribbean with Oceania cruise line are for the faint of heart, which explains the age of the average passenger. There is little in the way of excitement. The ship travels from one lovely tropical island to another, where white sandy beaches, island music, rum punch and the smell of ganja are all that wait. So we must find our excitement where we can. And in this case it is on the Island of St Lucia.
St Lucia is renowned for its beauty, its mountains and its rain forests. We are in one of the rainforests on top of a mountain about to embark on my very first experience of………….. zip lining! This is something that I have never had any inclination to try. I have always wondered why on earth tourists would visit a second world country and decide that they would like to entrust their lives to a pulley, a wire and the local inhabitants. I do not have a problem with heights, but I do have a problem with leaving the ground and being suspended a hundred feet above the forest floor by nothing more than a wire. And yet here I am suffering the ministrations of Lea and Le Ann.
Lea is now leading us up a steep hill. Suddenly there is a screeching sound accompanied by a piercing scream. A woman on a zipline whizzes past us a few feet overhead. I ask if that is where we are headed.
Lea laughs and says that is the zip line for the nervous, as it only passes a few feet above the ground.
“Perfect” I reply with relief.
Lea lets loose again with the wicked laugh.
“But that is not the one you are going on” she says. “You are booked on the one through the tree tops”
How the hell did that happen? Gordon is trying to look innocent, but it is not working.
“Well where is that one” I ask with apprehension.
Lea points to the top of the mountain. To get there involves a 35 minute ride on an open sided gondola. Another wire and another pulley, but this one supports a platform which seats 8 with a couple of rails round the outside to keep us from falling out and that is it. This is not what I had in mind when Gordon talked me into it. But it is clearly exactly what Gordon had in mind
Even Le Ann sitting behind us looks apprehensive.
But the worst is yet to come. Once at the top we walk for about twenty minutes along a steep and muddy trail through the rain forest. It would be a strenuous walk under normal circumstances but when dressed as a michelin man with a hairnet and helmet it is exhausting. Finally we reach a tree with a small rather rickety platform attached to it.
We climb up to the platform and one by one we take our first zip line ride. But first we have to be attached to the zip line. This involves climbing up onto an even smaller platform just big enough for Lea and myself. She then attaches my two harnesses to the wire. She does so by taking hold of a strap attached to the harness and giving it an almighty upwards pull in an effort to make it reach the zipline. My voice goes up an octave.
Then I have to sit down into the harness at which point the straps between my legs reach points where few have dared to tread. I tell Le Ann that I will be able to have a new career as a soprano. She laughs again and then with a huge grin gives me a very firm push and all of a sudden I am airborne.
A lifetime later the end is in sight in the form of another platform perched on a huge tree with a rubber mattress attached to it. I am rushing towards it at an alarming speed and I wonder at the thoughtfulness of the company which has provided a mattress to protect the tree from my crashing body
There are eight more lines to go, each one getting higher and higher off the ground. When we finally reach the last platform there is a sign telling us we are 160 feet above the forest floor. Standing on that platform is way more frightening than actually doing the zip line.
There is a strong wind blowing and the tree and the platform are swaying alarmingly from side to side. Lea tells us she gets very nervous when the winds are blowing. I tell her that is a piece of information she really should not be telling me.
The last line is the longest and runs for several hundred yards. It goes on forever, but by this time we are getting confident. I manage the daredevil trick of letting go with one hand
I must say I look quite professional even if I am not quite capable of managing a smile.
Gordon follows and of course is determined to be the ultimate daredevil and lets go with both hands
It is so annoying. He always wants to go one better. But I score the final point by taking this rather unflattering photo which clearly shows he is the gayest zip liner ever, as well as the necessity for placing each piece of furniture in the right room.
Dear readers, with that I must end the blog of this short trip. I had more in mind but as you will have noticed it has been some time since the last blog. This is because the coronavirus, while fortunately not on this ship, has caused Gordon and I some problems. We are due to go to Asia for two months, three weeks after this cruise ends and part of the trip was on a cruise ship. We learned the other day that the cruise has been completely rerouted and is now a cruise round Australia. This has meant that for the last few days we have spent a great deal of time trying to reorganise our flights, hotels and so on. All this had to be done using Oceania’s internet which is notoriously slow and unreliable. And there is still much to do. So it is with regret that I leave you with this blog.
But I will be back in just a few weeks with an entirely new adventure.