A Visit to Costa Rica by Ivar Jacobson

I have just had some fantastic days in Costa Rica where I was invited to speak at an architecture conference sponsored by Microsoft and Club Investigacion Tecnologica. My speech was about the Essential Unified Process which I will tell you more about it in another postcard. Today I want to tell you about a completely new experience for me: the canopy.

Yesterday, I got up early to go to the rain forest. My driver Luis picked me up at 8 am and we drove for three hours to get to a large and active volcano. We were lucky. The volcano roared just as we got out of the car for a view of it. A roaring volcano is frightening and it makes you feel very small. It spit out huge blocks of stone rolling down the slopes with tails of white dust. When the volcano had spoken it became so quite that you could hear all kind of sounds that were new to me. Monkeys were hi-hoing to one another, birds were calling one another and Luis told me it was time to move on.

We came to a farm where Luis put me on the back of a horse and then he said “goodbye, see you in the evening”. The horse took me on a one hour ride in the company of other horses -- with attached tourists. I am not a rider. I have been on a horse twice before. The first time the horse started to gallop, and since no one had told me how to steer, it ran straight towards a big fence. The horse was smart; it didn’t run into the fence but stopped just in front of it. However, I didn’t stop. That could have stopped my career. :) 

From now on my horse was very kind. He knew he had a bag of flesh on his back and that he needed to keep that bag from falling off. Nevertheless, I had a tough time to hold on to the horse and it was all very painful. The saddle was as hard as if it was made of steel. I am glad I was not on a two week tour, but just on a one hour trip. My lower body was in severe pain, the skin was gone and I could hardly walk, sitting was out of the question.

I didn’t need to sit though, because now we had reached the canopy. In the rain forest wires about 1.5 cm thick were stretched from one point to another, lower point, about 900 meters away. The idea was for me to slide along the wire from the higher point to the lower point all about 60 m above the ground. I got a harness on my lower body which was attached to a rail via a strong elastic rope. The rail was to slide on the wire. I also got a one cm thick glove to control the speed and to keep my body from rotating while sliding.

Before going on this trip people had told me that some people never get back from the canopy so don’t go. Well, saying that was the best way to get me to do it. Scary? Yes. However, once on the wire it was fantastic. It was a new experience, like skiing or snorkeling the first time. I loved it. The area had 10 such wires and I did them all. Afterwards I was very relaxed and enjoyed a great dinner with a view of the sunset over the beautiful volcano. In his ambition to make me happy Luis had even invited a young Finnish tourist to share dinner with us. I was too exhausted to pay her any attention, so Luis had to entertain her himself. In fact he did that so well that he totally forgot about me and I could drop off on our way back to the hotel.

I really want to come back to Costa Rica to again meet Luis, Jimmy, Roberto and all the new friends I made.