I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day. Spread my wings and fly away….OK, you get my drift. I went hang gliding with Go Up Brazil, a company that provides hang gliding and paragliding adventures in Rio de Janeiro. I anticipated this adventure from the moment I left Chicago. I thought about it each day and got more and more excited.
When the car came for us at the hotel to take us to the site we were ready. In the car I was singing. I guess badly because the driver turned on the radio. Was this a hint? Gene, Bonnie and Howard all tried to ignore me but it was OK because I was giddy with excitement.
|Gene getting ready|
|Howard, Chico Santos, Ja’Vonne & Gene|
Gene is always my partner in crime and goes along with my adventures and a few of his own. Bonnie said from the beginning “y’all have fun” and Howard, well he was talked into it or should I say coaxed into it. I think he really wanted to back out but machismo got in the way.
By the time we made it to the top of the mountain to a place called Pueblo Bonito, I was beside myself. I was like a jumping bean. When my pilot introduced himself to me I hugged him. He didn’t seem surprised by this? He spoke fast and as he instructed me he always finished with OK? He and his son hooked me up to the glider and put my helmet, then the instructions began. You stand to the side of me OK? Always to the side of me, never behind me OK? When we ready to go, together we run, maybe ten steps OK? OK, let’s do it for practice. Together we ran about ten feet at a fast pace. It’s hard to run when you’re connected to the glider. That was the extent of my training but since he said he’s been flying for more than 20 years I’m OK!
Now, we’re ready….We walk over to the platform that angles down and then drops off. There’s a person in front of me so I have time to gather my thoughts. Wait, why is he walking me down towards the end of the platform in front of the other person? It’s my turn? I’m going first? Before I had time to think he says OK, we go RUN! Off the platform and mountain we go. I’m flying or shall I say gliding. I immediately forget that I just jumped off of a mountain 1600 feet above ground.
I’m gliding high above Rio de Janeiro. In front of me is the ocean and beach. To my right is the side of the mountain. Off in the distance to my left is part of Ipanema beach. Below me are fabulous homes along the mountain with swimming pools, tennis courts and sprawling scapes. We go left, then right, then over the ocean. We’re gliding and I’m taking it all in. Occasionally he says look at the camera and smile. Then he says you can let go…spread your arms wide. This is a freeing experience. I don’t want it to be over, but it’s time to land. He reaches down and unhooks my legs from my vest. Now, my legs are dangling where before they were behind me. We go over the ocean and make a quick u- turn back to the beach. This maneuver speeds us up and is thrilling! I actually want to make that maneuver again. As we approach the make shift runway on the beach (Pepino Beach) he says…When I stop the glider you take three steps OK? I say OK, but I wind up on my knees. I forgot to run. LOL. It’s all over but I’m still smiling. What an adventure! One more thing checked off my life list.
Ja’Vonne Harley, The Wanderlusting Foodie aka Chica
Co-Host, The Traveling Eye