Another way of flying unlocked
I realized that there was no need to keep my dreams down on earth
Like many people, since I was little, I always dreamed of one day being able to fly. Well, I did grow up watching a few fictional shows and reading all kinds of fantasy books, so you can see where I get my ideas from.
As I grew older and, you know, life started to ground my imagination a bit, I gave up on the idea. Luckily, when I started travelling, I realized that there was no need to keep my dreams down on earth when I could actually find new ways to make them real. Paragliding is one of those ways.
Why do I love it so much?
If you’ve never done it, I can say it’s pretty much floating from a parachute for around 20 minutes. If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, well, now add a last-sec jump from a cliff and crazy-breathtaking views underneath you.
Even though the whole activity takes a bit over an hour, the flight time is a lot shorter, and it’s 100% conditioned by the wind, which right next to trees, I’ll say, is my favourite thing in this world.
What’s so special about wind? You may think. Actually, I have no idea. I just know that I grew up in Patagonia, and my city, Punta Arenas, always had winds of 30 to 40kms per hour on average, reaching up to over 100 on many occasions. I thought that was normal. Well, it’s not so common, as I found out later in life.
Besides that, I can’t tell you much more about what makes wind so unique to me, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the flying dream I mentioned earlier. Remember I confess to always imagine what it would feel like to do it?
As I was saying, while getting older, like everyone else, l learned a lot about the world and the flying options available. And no, I did not become a pilot; I simply started spending a lot of days every year on a plane and then, later, I had a chance to Skydive (a story I shared on the February issue) and enjoy a Jungle Swing.
One day, while visiting New Zealand’s south island –yeah, you can imagine the appeal of flying over that landscape– I had the time, the money and the desire to finally Paraglide. One of those moments when everything comes together, and you couldn’t even think of it twice.
I went to the top of Coronet Peak in Queenstown, a mountain of 1,182m –not that high, I know. But that didn’t take the fun away. After a bit of an intro, then the proper equipment, and all the security straps they put around you, they explain what would happen next.
“We’ll run to the edge, and then we jump”, says the instructor. Oh, ok, sure! Nothing wrong with that sentence.
I’m one of those fake braves who always wants to do something cool and daring, but I will make up a hundred excuses to avoid it when the time comes. I guess I just wanted to hear some reassuring words out loud. You know, let’s go through the safety information again, just one more time.
After a few minutes, when there was thankfully no way out of my flight plan, the instructor repeated his famous command, and we ran towards the edge to begin our flight. My stomach went up to my neck, and my heart was all over the place. It was just beautiful.
We dropped for what felt like an hour, but it was probably not even a minute, and then the paraglider started taking us up, allowing us to fly over a landscape that made me feel like I was a hobbit on my way back to the Shire –no height jokes, please.
The instructor played around with the direction and was transported into a bird’s body, or so I imagined. I mean, I did say I was a dreamer…so, yeah.
“My stomach went up to my neck, and my heart was all over the place. It was just beautiful”
After approximately 20 minutes of drops and turns, with wind literally caressing my body while enjoying the power and the beauty of nature from a privileged perspective, we landed back on the ground.
It’s funny how being on the air gives you a different perspective. It does something to empower you. After all, you just flew, so there’s nothing you couldn’t achieve now.
All I can add is that it is the best way of flying I’ve experienced, that I’d be more than happy to do it in every town I love, and that is totally recommended.
Side note, my flying soundtrack was Catfish and The Bottlemen – Fallout. To this day, I can still remember that moment with that song playing in my head.