So, we went paragliding.
I wanted to vomit and poop my pants and chug water all at the same time. It was a weird, uncomfortable feeling. But it was awesome!
Dan and I woke up fairly early this morning. We had to catch the Metro around 8:15-8:30AM and then take a bus to an unknown location.
(This is the best part of traveling in South America – Nothing makes sense.)
The ONLY reason we found this place is because some kind soul took the time to type out directions on some review.
We arrived at terminal 11, bought our tickets, and immediately boarded the bus. One more person boarded before the doors shut and we were on our way.
It didn’t take long for the bus to get overcrowded as it stopped here and there picking up additional paying customers. Dan turned to me and said, “This is more like it.”
As we climbed up and up the mountains, we watched the time and looked out the window to figure out the next move. According to our directions, it would take approximately 45 minutes and then we would see a statue of a plane and we were to get off there and go up some stairs. Cool.
An hour goes by and Dan and I are a little anxious. How big is this statue? What if it’s on the other side of the bus and we can’t see it because it’s so crowded? What if we miss it? Where would we end up?
Suddenly, I see the statue! It looked like an old plane. The bus stopped and we struggled to squeeze by each person in the one-foot width area we had. “Lo siento. Lo siento.” We repeated to each person we bumped by.
Successfully off the bus, we look up to find three sets of stairs. Great.
A woman walked up and greeted us. She could tell we were confused. We told her, in broken Spanish, we were looking for ‘Dragonfly’ and she pointed to the third set of steps.
Holy Moly. These steps were a work out. Each step, I huffed and thought, “I cannot believe I am doing this in order to jump off a mountain. …I’m about to jump off a mountain! What are you doing, Brittany!?” My heart starts racing even more and my mind is racing. Just breathe. It’ll be fun. You can do this.
Once at the top, we looked out at Medellín and took in the view. What a sight! I suddenly forgot I was nervous.
After checking in and receiving some wrist bands, we sat and waited for our chance to soar in the air.
Just a few moments later, Alejandro, the man we scheduled with, came over to tell us (in broken English) that they were waiting for the conditions to be right. He said if it was good, we would fly out and back in, no problem. If not, we would fly out and land in the city.
Dan and I got nervous. Land in the city? Do we bring our stuff? Where will we land? How do we meet up? We decide to meet at the hostel (a taxi ride to a bus to transfer to the metro to walk 20 minutes uphill). Oh, no. This is going to be terrible. I got nervous again.
Dan, naturally, was wearing his suit and tie, looking dapper. I looked up to the area where the jumpers were and noticed Alejandro, who was frantically looking around. I assumed he was looking for us, but before I said anything, I saw him grab a guy and motion with his hand like he were tightening a tie. I start laughing and say, “He’s looking for us! He’s looking for your suit!”
Suddenly, we are both being dressed in these awkward suits that are barely hanging from our shoulders. Our stuff is thrown in some big bag that goes down with us and our nice cameras are being zipped under our jackets for protection from take-off.
I am overwhelmed. I have NO clue what is happening. I get moved away from Dan and these men are speaking Spanish and I’m just nodding “yes” even though I don’t know what they’re saying. Wait. I shouldn’t pretend like I understand! No! What?!
I move my hands and these two men are grabbing them and telling me to hold down here, down here. I look down to see what my hands are holding on to and suddenly, I feel a push. I look up to see a sweaty Colombian face to my left who is pulling/pushing me and I look out and notice – HOLY ****! HOLY ****! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!
I just got pushed off of a mountain.
I am clenching so hard to these… ropes? Whatever the material is.. it’s digging into my hands. The weird suit they put me in is a chair. I am so afraid to move that I froze.
“Are you happy?” I hear behind me. “To fly is magic!” The voice says.
I take a breath and smile. Wow. This really is incredible.
“Sí.” I squeeze out.
I see massive waterfalls in the distance; water plummeting thousands of feet. Strange white trees that look like plastic. A giant yellow house on top of a hill.
“Pablo Escobar’s house.” The voice is Alejandro’s brother; he’s pointing out the yellow house where I see people walking about. “Doze people are crazy.”
Eagles are soaring just beneath me. Sometimes they swoop up and right in front my face.
“See da eagles?” He says. “Ay mami! I lowve yoouu!” He laughs.
I start to relax a little, but unable to move my death grip to grab my camera. So I ask my pilot if he flies often.
“Sorry, no Inglés.”
Ugh. “Lo siento. Uhm. Cómo se dice fly?”
He tells me and I ask, “…mucho?”
He tells me 20 years. I really need to learn Spanish.
After about 10 minutes of looking at the same stuff and circling over and over and over and over, I started not feeling well. I couldn’t look in the distance, or down, or at my knees.. everything was moving rapidly enough to make me feel worse. I continued to take deep breaths and tell myself I would be okay. Occasionally, I would be okay again and enjoy the view. However, my pilot noticed my stiffness and asked, “Mamacita, you okay? You sick?”
“Sí. Un poquito.”
“You breathe! We land in ten minutes. To fly is magic!” He laughs again.
Okay, I get it. You love doing this.
When it comes time to land, he shouts, “HIPS” to signal it’s time to lift my legs. We land on our butts and a crowd of young Colombian boys rush over to unclip us and pack everything away.
Dan walks over and I sit down. I tell him my tummy wasn’t too happy. He said, “Mine either. The last few minutes, he asked if I wanted to do acrobatics. I was looking down at my sail and the ground at one point. My tummy isn’t happy either.”
We were then escorted to a taxi where Alejandro and his brother directed us how to get home. They dropped us off on the corner of some street and double, triple, quadruple checked that we were okay to go. With big smiles on our faces, we gave them each an extra 25,000 COP as a big tip and said, “Mucho gracias!”
Alejandro’s brother got out of the cab and ran over to me. His face was covered in sun screen and held a huge smile. He wrapped me in his arms and kissed me on the cheek. Alejandro gave Dan a big hug and we all waved goodbye.
Dan and I caught a bus to the Metro and as we huffed up our least favorite hill, we stopped to get a smoothie. The day was still young and we had already felt such a range of emotions and seen something so many do not get to see.
We cheersed1 our smoothies and high-fived2. We’re pretty awesome.
Next time, I’ll update you on our last days of Medellín with our new friends, Helen and Tom, and our first few here in Bogotá.
Until next time,
1 I don’t believe this is a real word.
2 Or this one either.