Did That Really Just Happen?
As Robert & Larena jumped, fingers interwoven and wedding bouquet held high, their glowing smiles and elegant attire could almost make you forget they were flying through the air from atop a waterfall deep in a jungle ravine in Costa Rica.
Her ankle-length light rose lace dress trailed behind her, half bride-train, half superhero cape. His white button-up shirt and cream linen pants billowed like clouds. For a moment, they seemed to be floating, as if they might never come down. Their toes touched the water’s surface in unison. Together they plunged into the river, bouquet held high, ’til there were only floating flowers which disappeared beneath a white splash and a light ripple.
What remained in view was a flowing waterfall engulfed on all sides by thick green jungle foliage speckled with the bright pop of colorful flowers. The serenity of the scene challenged the surreal leap: did that really just happen?
The beautiful couple emerged, smiles still glowing, and cried out in ecstasy, joy, and love. Today they woke up in a dream.
He asked her to marry him–again.
She said yes–again!
Waking Up in Paradise
It was a cool clear morning in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano. The Desafío Adventure Company van pulled up to the hotel, and today’s guide, David, hopped out to find our guests of honor.
Robert and Larena spiraled down the lobby’s main staircase and David knew instantly it was them (they were the only pair in this lobby dressed for a wedding, after all). They made their introductions, loaded the van, and in a flash were off on adventure.
“I feel like i’m in a dream,” Larena exclaimed. “Or on a television show,” Robert added on beat. “Is this really happening?” they both wondered aloud.
David smiled wide, and they all began laughing, talking, and together recounting the story of what brought them together on this beautiful Costa Rican day…
Why You Should Always Check Your Inbox
Over a year ago, Robert began planning and researching online for a special 20th anniversary trip for he and his wife Larena. They decided on Costa Rica for a week in March, and begin slowly making reservations for hotels and transportation. This would be the first time they would travel without their three beautiful children, wanting to reconnect as lovers in paradise.
In searching for the best tours and deals he could find, Robert signed up for the Desafío newsletter. Seven months later, in February, as he and Larena were making final arrangements and getting their bags together, he received a fateful ping in his inbox.
Desafío Adventure Company is looking for a brave couple (“That’s us,” Robert thought) coming to Costa Rica this month (“We are, it just so happens”) looking to take a special challenge with their loved one (“This cannot be real!”).
The following two weeks saw an exchange of emails, new reservations made, and Robert and Larena flying to Costa Rica from their home in California not entirely sure what the first 72 hours of this trip had in store.
They landed in San Jose, took a private Desafío van to La Fortuna, relaxed in their hotel room with a bottle of Champaign, fell asleep, and awoke to the bright smile and red Desafío logo of David whisking them away to explore…
The Long and Winding Road
As the couple finished recounting their wild arrival to Costa Rica, the van pulled to a stop. Robert and Larena hopped out to a magnificent view of Arenal Volcano. Alongside them, a photographer and videographer jumped out of the van. Larena had become accustomed to photoshoots with her husband’s photography hobby, and so the pair went full Hollywood and played models in the sunshine.
Twice more the group stopped for photoshoots en-route to their final destination: once to stop and hold a baby sloth, and another time to take in the view hundreds of feet up on the Peñas Blancas bridge. With every disembark, Robert and Larena were becoming more natural with this ‘living a dream’ day.
Two hours after leaving the hotel, the shuttle pulled up alongside one of Desafío’s famous “Jungle Limos”, a large truck with two padded benches in the covered back.
Along the bumpy road, with a view far into the green valley below, Robert and Larena took turns sharing with us about their relationship. The told us the story of their wedding, and in telling were struck by serendipity: on their honeymoon, they had jumped off a waterfall in Jamaica. Now, twenty years later in they were gearing up for five waterfall jumps in Gravity Falls, Costa Rica’s most extreme tour.
The Jungle Limo slowed to a halt, and our guide David grabbed the gear and got out. Robert and Larena followed, hand-in-hand. Along the fifteen minute walk down into the ravine David told the couple all about the flora and fauna they passed.
The sun shined through the branches, and as the boughs opened into the cleaning at the base of the ravine, Larena gasped.
Beneath a hundred-foot waterfall, next to a pool of flowing water, and deep in a canyon of vibrant jungle life, there was a wedding altar made entirely of fresh flowers. Eyes wide and jaws agape, they walked out and took in the view.
Christine Larson-Krishnan, one of Desafío’s founders, was there to greet the couple with hugs, alongside today’s wedding planner Tui and several Desafío guides. After a moment to pause and collect themselves, Robert and Larena told us they were ready, so it was time for the ceremony to begin.
“My Dearest Larena”
Having spent the morning with Robert and Larena learning about their relationship, how they met, their wonderful children, and becoming quick friends, I had the joy and pleasure of officiating their vow renewal ceremony.
What struck me was the intense intimacy of the moment. Twenty years prior, Robert and Larena had gathered in front of a crowd of their family and friends and publicly professed their undying love for one another.
Now, here beneath a roaring waterfall, the words spoken and vows shared were completely private. Two decades of adventuring side-by-side had lead them here, where they stepped aside from everything and everyone to be alone together.
I saw their hands shaking–heard the trembling in their voices as they again professed their love and asked for one another’s hand in marriage. Their was an immense power between them; it brought laughter, tears, and a glowing radiance. I had only known them for the few hours leading up to this moment, but I could feel my own eyes welling up
They kissed, and were met with cheers: cheers from Christine, Tui, David, and the other guides; cheers from the waterfall itself, and the parrots in the trees around. We shared tres leches cake, toasted with fresh coconuts, and celebrated the uniting power of love.
David told them that when they were ready, they could head up and get changed for the tour. Robert and Larena had other plans. They told us they wanted to jump now, to commemorate their wedding. Their eyes burned bright with the fire of twenty years of love, brighter still to burn for a hundred years more. They were ready to take on the world again, and nothing was going to stop them.
Happily Ever After
After that commemorative jump in their elegant attire, the newly re-wed couple changed into their athletic clothes and geared up for the tour. Across five waterfall jumps, scaling, rappelling, and swimming through a river ravine, I couldn’t help but smile every time I saw them.
At the bottom of the first rappel, Robert cheered on his wife, and when she splashed down into the pool of water he swam up and kissed her. In every moment of fear or nerves, they pushed each other forward. They overcame every obstacle just as they always had: together.
We hiked out of the ravine after the tour, dried off, snacked on fresh fruits and cold drinks, then took the Jungle Limo back down the hill. The van was waiting to whisk us away to lunch.
We pulled up to the restaurant to find a private table set aside with a chilled bottle of champagne waiting. As we toasted the newly re-wed couple, they continued regaling me with stories of their life and their family.
I was shocked to hear that they managed to keep this entire adventure a secret from their children, but not as shocked as their children will be to finally see the videos (Editors note to Robert & Larena’s children: they love you dearly, are incredibly proud of you, and it brought tears to my eyes hearing how one of their greatest inspirations in their relationship is the three of you).
And that is the magical, enchanted, and incredibly real story of Robert & Larena.
They came to Costa Rica; they woke up in a dream.
He asked her to marry him–again.
She said yes–again!
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