I can feel my heartbeat pounding in my throat as I contort my body through a small circular window along the tallest bridge in the Caribbean and step out onto a thin railing to the sound of traffic whizzing by above my head.
Despite telling myself not to look down in case it would cause my courage to waver, I can’t help but glance out over downtown Willemstad, the capital city of Curaçao.
Clutching onto the Queen Juliana Bridge with both hands, I think of how few people get to experience this vantage point as I gaze across the landmark pastel-toned buildings lining St. Anna Bay some 150 feet below.
I snap back from elation to reality quickly as my climbing instructor, Albert Schoop of Vertical Fun Curaçao, reminds me that it’s time to start the rappelling process.
Gripping the rope attached to my harness like my life depended on it, I slowly lower myself backwards as my feet remain planted on the side of the rail.
I let out a small scream (okay, maybe it was a big scream) after I kicked my feet off the ledge and my body swung back and forth until the momentum wore off.
Finally feeling secure knowing that I was truly strapped into the harness, I start feeding the rope through my fingers until I stop descending.
“Let both hands go,” I hear Schoop shout from above me.
I release my left hand from the rope for a few seconds, instinctively grabbing the rope again before letting go with my right hand, repeating the process several times.
“Spread your arms!” he exclaims. “Both arms!”
Going against every natural instinct in my body — I eventually let go with both hands and dangle backwards in a Spiderman pose, feeling exhilarated.
Although I felt quite brave at the time, back on solid ground Schoop shares some details about those who have completed the quest before me.
“My youngest client off the bridge was five years old and the oldest was two weeks away from turning 83 years old,” he says.
For the full story of managing editor Ann Ruppenstein’s adventures in Curaçao, check out this week’s issue of TRAVEL COURIER.