Each day our students will blog about some of their experiences on the Brazil Travel Course. Our third entry for Sunday, 1/22 comes from Jess MacMillan.
Sunday here in Rio turned out to be a sunny and clear day with unlimited possibilities to take in the beauty of the city. One way to get a bird’s eye view and enjoy a rare perspective of the city and beaches is to go to Pedra Bonita, and paraglide or hang-glide off of the 510m giant granite mountain. The flights depend on the weather and the wind conditions, but it is unavailable only a few days out of the month, and flights take place as usual on most days.
The sensation is amazing. The sound of only air slipping off your sail is like silence, and in flight a man’s dream of flying like a bird comes true. The cost is steep (about $210, with video), but because it will be a once in a life time experience, it is well worth expense. The pilots are experienced and friendly. Most having been flying for 10 years or more, and with a quick wave of the hand and a laugh, they quickly allay the fears of the risk ahead. Once the initial take off is done, it is nothing but smooth sailing down to the beach.
(photo courtesy of Joe Melican)
The tourist experience is smooth and enjoyable; with only a closer look at the business model of the operation, one can see its resemblances to that of Brazil as a nation. The operation of the service is very status orientated. The owners of the sails fall into a very small and privileged class that actually have the capitol to afford the equipment. The assisting help, the ones who “sherpa” the gliders from the cars to the launch pad, and then from the landing zone back to the cars, make an ok living, but will probably never be able to afford to pay for a trip to sail the sky on their own.
(photo courtesy of Joe Melican)
Sunday also offers a Hippie Fair, on the Square General Osório in Ipanema. It starts around 10am and goes on until the early evening. There you can find art, jewelry, shirts, bags, furniture, hammocks, food, and much more. It is a nice inexpensive and enjoyable approach to getting your Rio De Janeiro memorabilia taken care of.
Each day our students will blog about some of their experiences on the Brazil Travel Course. Our second entry for Sunday, 1/22 comes from Joe Melican.
Sunday was supposed to be our day off. We could have slept in and spent the whole day relaxing on the beach. But NOT SO FAST! A few of us decided to try out the local hang gliding and paragliding . We were going to jump from a local mountain and then land on the beach. It sounded like a good idea on Saturday when we talked about it, it still sounded like a good idea when I woke up on Sunday morning, and it continued to sound like a good idea when I arrived at the
paragliding office on the beach. As we drove up the hill it started to creep into my head that sleeping in would not have been such a bad idea.
We reached the top of the mountain. The group consisted of Mindie, Chris, James, Jess, Nick, Kim and myself. Jess and I were going to Paraglide and the rest were going to Hang Glide. I watched as several Hang Gliders suited up and proceeded to run of the deck and soar away….simple enough. Jess and I were doing the paragliding. Our set up was like those toy army men attached to parachutes that you throw up in the air and ideally the chute opens and they float back to earth. The problem is I remember often times the chute didn’t open and the army men crash to the ground. Jess went before me. He suited up, received some tips from his trainer and ran off the side of the cliff no problem!! I watched him float around and eventually land on the beach far off in the distant. The rest of the class had all taken off with no hitches. It was now my turn to run off the side of this mountain and hope the chute inflated. My trainer seemed very knowledgeable and did make me feel more at ease. This was after all my first jump.
We suited up, went through some training and then ran off the side of the mountain!!! We dipped down a little, my feet hit the top of the trees and then we took off!! It was quite a rush. We proceeded to maneuver up close to mountains and then over the ocean before gently dropping down softly on the grass. It was an amazing ride that I would do again in a second.
In retrospect it was a great idea!! The only thing missing was having my wife with me…..that would have made it a perfect day…maybe next year.