Blind in Costa Rica - My Family Travels
The "Scenic" Zipline Tour that I Could Only Listen To

I have lived my whole life in Colorado, a place known for its natural beauty.  I have grown accustomed to the magnificent Rockies and the incredible sunsets.  I have taken for granted my ability to experience this beauty through the use of my senses, notably my vision, until I lost this sense on my outward bound trip in Costa Rica.

Waking up sore from surfing the previous day, I walked in the darkness from my bed to the bathroom, trying not to disturb the other eight, sleeping students that partook on this two week journey.  I reached the bathroom and flipped on the light, but I still couldn’t see a thing.  I thought that maybe the electricity was out, not an unusual occurence in a remotely-located house in the forest of Costa Rica.  I began to wash my face in the attempt to wake myself up from what felt like an unusually groggy state.  As I rubbed my eyes, I realized why I could not see in a well-lit bathroom; my eyes were swollen shut.

I went back to my bed and started panicking.  “It was only the third day of our trip.  How would I last another week and a half in Costa Rica with my eyes glued shut?  Would I have to go home early?  What caused me to swell up?  I don’t even have any known allergies.”  Fortunately, the nurse for my high school was the chaperone for this trip.  Unfortunately, she did not have any idea what was wrong with me nor did she have any medicine to treat it.  She gave me an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pill and told me that it will have to “run its course.”

Coincidentally, a scenic zipline tour was scheduled for the day that I woke up without my vision.  I was led around the forests of Costa Rica and listened to the sounds of wildlife and waterfalls as everyone else oohed and aahed at the sights.  Though I could only see light and shadows, I still enjoyed rushing across the ziplines.  The tour included about ten zipline courses, and at the end of each one, someone would jokingly say, “Hey Brendan, did you see the… oh wait…”  We finished the “scenic” zipline tour, and I was guided back to basecamp with a hand on my shoulder and an occasional “watch your step.”  I felt blind and a burden to the other travelers; someone teasingly gave me a stick, telling me to tap it on the ground in front of me as we walked almost four miles back to our camp.  I even wore dark sunglasses to complete the blind appearance.

My vision gradually improved over the next week and a half of the trip, though I never fully recovered until I was put on allergy medication when we got back to Colorado.  As it improved, my appreciation for the natural beauty around me grew.  I was able to climb a forty foot tree, go rafting, and even rappel down a waterfall.  I again appreciate the Rockies and the sunsets of Colorado, and I don’t think it will take another week without vision to maintain my appreciation.

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