- Featured Adventure: Lucky Lovers Leap Into Gravity Falls
The jump was perfectly executed — so well that both bride and groom touched the water in perfect synchronicity.
Adventurous, fun-loving, daring and definitely in love! Larena's Instagram post was all it took to inspire a much grander prize than what she and her husband, Robert, were envisioning as contestants to star in their own action movie. Like other hopefuls in our Lucky Valentine Costa Rica Challenge, the pair's sights were set not only on a oncein-a-lifetime experience courtesy of my company, Desafio Adventure Co., but also a professionally edited video recording of the event.
What gave Robert and Larena the winning edge was their expressed desire to celebrate a mutually profound passion for adventure, and for each other, on the same spectacularly romantic occasion. They were exactly the kind of lucky valentine couple we were looking for when the February 2018 contest was conceived.
Responding almost immediately to our call for entries, the attractive couple from Southern California told us they were planning a trip to Costa Rica for their 20th anniversary, and would love to have Desafio help commemorate their visit on film. What they had in mind is Costa Rica's most extreme kind of experience — our Gravity Falls waterfall jumping tour.
Larena's Instagram feed read: “Feb
1st the month of love starts the official countdown for our next adventure! 26 days and 13 hours until he sweeps me off my feet again and we take off to celebrate 20 years of marriage!”
Instantly, it dawned on us to offer Robert and Larena a wedding vow renewal ceremony as part of their Gravity Falls adventure. Tui Frye of Blue Butterfly Events was in on the scheme right away, and it didn't take much convincing for Robert and Larena to agree.
The day before the ceremony, one of our drivers picked up Robert and Larena at the airport and took them to their hotel in the Arenal area, the Royal Corin.
Next morning at 7 o'clock, the makeup and hair artist, Victoria, was first on the scene. As she put the finishing touches on Larena's radiant face, our guide, David Arias, showed up at the hotel, along with Oscar Obregon, the photographer, and Matt Schaefer, who would conduct the wedding vow renewal ceremony.
Judging from the first few photos, Robert and Larena seemed to have undergone some apprehensive moments, perhaps thinking to themselves, “What on earth have we signed up for?”
But by the time Oscar had warmed up with photos of the starry-eyed couple hugging and kissing in front of the picturesque Arenal Volcano, the soonto-be “renewlyweds” were clearly getting into it. Smiling deeply into her husband's eyes, Larena looked stunning from one Kodak moment to the next. She had worried needlessly about being unable to find the right dress for the occasion on short notice, scoring rose-toned perfection in an elegantly flattering style with lacy overcoat. As if cooperating in every sense
of luckiness, the sun also beamed warmly through a cloudless sky onto the often-elusive volcano backdrop.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Robert and Larena, Matt had them engaged in an ice-breaking routine for his own purpose. Asking specific questions in an on-camera interview format, he was picking up pieces of “juicy” personal information to incorporate strategically with the wedding vow ceremony later on. Opportunities arose during a few more stops the couple made en route to the Gravity Falls entrance, one to see a baby sloth and another to catch some amazing shots from the Peñas Blancas suspension bridge.
Some of the video footage reveals that Robert and Larena were not waterfall rappelling novices, having enjoyed a smaller-scale adventure in Jamaica on their honeymoon 20 years ago. In fact, getting ready for the Gravity Falls excursion actually brought back many golden memories about the nervousness and emotions of getting married two decades earlier.
“It is a dream come true ... that we never really dreamed would actually happen” said Larena, “and a bit of a déjà vu.”
The drive by Desafio jungle limo through deep forest terrain was followed by a short hike to the Gravity Falls base site beneath the 150-foot canyon drop. I will never forget the big smile on Larena's face and Robert's words of appreciation upon arrival at the floral arched altar we had constructed for the ceremony, greeted by the whole team involved in planning the event.
“I feel like we are on ‘The Bachelor' show,” said Robert. “We feel like such celebrities!”
Matt was all set to officiate with a romantic vow script provided by Tui, adding sprinklings of his own quick humor. Aside from our paparazzi presence, the ceremony itself remained private for the wedding couple, with Matt's voice drowned out from an onlooker's distance by the roaring waterfall dominating other sounds of nature. But we were pretty sure he said something like, “You may now kiss Larena...” because the two suddenly locked into a romantic smooch before turning to thank everyone present for making this special moment possible. Admittedly, we were all a bit teary-eyed.
Oscar directed the couple to pose in various parts of the canyon beneath the waterfall and along the mossy wall. Next, we cut the tres leches cake and made a wedding toast with fresh coconut water drinks.
Finally, it was time for the ultimate lovers' leap, which Tui convinced Robert and Larena to make from the first waterfall jump while still dressed in their ceremony clothes. The jump was perfectly executed — so well that both bride and groom touched the water in perfect synchronicity and Larena never let go of the natural jungle floral bouquet she was holding.
We were able to get amazing shots and video of this tandem feat, not just once, but three times.
With all that adrenaline uncorked, we gave Robert and Larena some space to change into clothing better suited for the original purpose of their second honeymoon trip. At last, from the top, they were ready to enjoy the whole gamut of Desafio's renowned Gravity Falls adventure. The excursion ended in style with a romantic lunch along the Peñas Blancas River, before we took them back to their hotel.
Robert and Larena stayed in touch during the rest of their stay in Costa Rica, while visiting Monteverde and various locales along the Guanacaste coast.
“We are still on cloud nine!” they told us. “Our (3) children won't believe what we've just done. This has been an incredible adventure of a lifetime!”
It seemed even more incredible for us, and inspirational, to share in the love of a truly beautiful “lucky” couple who obviously haven't lost the spark of adventure and romance after 20 years of marriage.
Photos courtesy of Desafio Adventure Co.