Terror at the Tiroleza

The Tiroleza, Morro de São Paolo. Pic courtesy of http://www.morro.travel.

Wales, circa 1997.

That was my first experience of a zipwire, and it was bad.

After watching my sporty schoolfriends zoom down the line crossing the valley and execute a perfect, graceful descent, I held my breath, scrunched up my eyes and leapt off into the dizzying drop.

The wind whipped through my hair and against my face, my feelings of terror were replaced by exhilaration until…why am I slowing down so soon..?

For a few long minutes I was stuck halfway down the wire, high in the treetops, until I’d mastered the shimmy the instructor was wildly urging me to do to make it to the bottom.

After my humiliating introduction to adventure sports, I vowed never to go near a zipwire again.

But 14 years later, I somehow found myself being hooked up to a thin rope, knees knocking, knuckles white from clinging to the harness, about to jump to my probable doom 70 metres above jagged rocks.

Morro de São Paolo, a small but perfectly formed island between Itacaré and Salvador, boasts gorgeous beaches, snorkelling in natural pools…and the 340 metre-long Tiroleza from a lighthouse into the sea at Primeira Praia (First Beach).


Phil gets ready to jump

Moments earlier Phil had flung himself off the edge, assuming Superman and upside-down poses on the way down.

I took about ten minutes and several false starts to convince myself I wasn’t going to leap to my death.

My body would be about to jump but my brain would freeze my limbs at the last second before the edge with an “Are you crazy??!”

Thankfully once I’d bit the bullet, it was a lot of fun. Though I kept my eyes closed for most of it, and my screams probably reached the sunbathers on Fourth Beach.

But I like to think I would have made my 14-year-old self proud.

Splash down: I head for a wet landing on the Tiroleza death slide in Morro de São Paolo


About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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