Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Aborted Attempt at Flight

Sept 16 to 24th

Bucaramanga is supposed to be a great city - the incredibly friendly locals, the bustling street markets, the night life....

Wouldn't know.... I just spent five days in bed groaning with liquid insides.

The only thing I saw.... apart from the bathroom (which is not a nice photo for the blog) is this view from my window....

South America is not being kind to me so far. Contrast 2 bouts of illness and three punctures in just three weeks on this trip with zero illnesses and zero punctures in six months on my last trip. I must have offended the cycle gods somehow, but I know not what I have done. I resolve to clean my bike... grease some bearings, lubricate all cables and sprinkle copious amounts of holy water on my tyres.... if only I could just stop running to the bathroom for long enough.

Time is awasting and after five days staring at the walls, I am strong enough to ride again.

We still haven't managed to get the hang of all this Spanish signage as we head out on the motorway....

The lost days are a real shame as we had arranged to meet two couples from the Stahlratte crew for a para-gliding course on the outskirts of Bucaramanga. They are travelling much more sensibly than us using the internal combustion engine and so, arrived days in advance of us. After my malingering they are now almost finished. Only the legendary inefficiency of South American countries and a badly organised course has delayed them sufficiently for us to meet them at all!

The paragliding school is located at the top of a steep climb.... obviously! You need a steep sided hill to get airborne, otherwise the whole thing just becomes some silly running around with a big kite. I climb the hill on weak rubbery legs, but the views back over the city are well worth the effort....

As we near the summit we can see distant paragliding wings in the air. A couple of soaring birds seem to confer and debate over clumsy human efforts to ride the airways that they master so effortlessly....

By the time we finally arrive Robert, Madeline and Mark have over 20 flights under their belts and are really getting the hang of the tricky launches and landings. They are becoming expert flyers and are close to qualifying. Robert might have been better taking a basic course in knots though....

Watching them inflate these big wings and launch themselves towards the sheer edge is stirring stuff....

Legs pumping the colourful sails bulge and inflate, then begin to gain loft; suddenly they are running on air as they float and then soar off the ground with the stunning cityscape as a backdrop....

We sign up for a tandem flight to whet our appetite before taking the course and watch the experts until late in the day....

The school has accommodation right by the launch zone and it's a perfect place to hang out and catch up with friends. It's still very much the rainy season in Colombia but it's warm enough to hang out on the balcony. The evenings sound slick with the fizz of water on leaves.

All that rain makes the ground heavy with mud and a beer and food run in Mark's car turns into a fiasco when the car bogs down. Luckily, with extra muscle power on hand, we manage to push the car clear, but Sue needs to make a note not to stand behind spinning wheels....

Unfortunately we do quite a lot of hanging about.... Inexplicably it takes two days to get our tandem flights as instructors promise to arrive at 9am which in Colombia translates to 1pm and there is no chance to get our flights in.

Sue kills time in 'The Nest'....

While I check out the local wildlife. A two inch deadly looking waspy-anty thing that apparently packs a mean punch with that nasty stinger....

Even worse is this viper that hides in the grass. We only spot it when we see the resident cat stalking and stamping with it foreleg trying to draw it out. Brave cat - there is only one winner in that fight. He's coiled, agitated - ready to strike and does so as we crowd round to look. Fortunately no-one gets bitten....

Moving onto safer pursuits, Sue finally does get airborne....

When in South America you have to lose that western mania for efficient organisation and time keeping. These are just false expectations and lead to increases in stress levels. Nah... you just have to chillax and roll with that whole 'mañana' thing. Things are definitely done differently here.... I get that. but here it's taken to the extreme!

The course should include transportation - a small matter of getting yourself and a now useless wing thing back up that big hill after landing. Sadly the van has not been purchased yet and the guys are hitching rides with locals or taking taxis which can waste a couple of hours a day. On one of the days, only a single instructor turns up and he mans the landing site, meaning there is no-one at the top to check equipment before launch. Inexperienced students are forced to check each other's safety harnesses and gear. Given that a rooky crashed into a tree the previous day it would have been nice for some extra tuition and reassurance before his next flight!!

Sadly I cannot recommend the school - there are just too many safety concerns and the lack of organisation was taking it's toll on the guys who were promised a 10 day course which was now running up to three weeks due to delays. My tandem pilot was taking a phone call during my launch and only noticed my harness was not attached properly when I asked him to check it. He was clipping me in and preparing to launch at the time!!

Shame 'cos the flight was awesome and I cannot think of a better location to fly....

It's a local beauty spot attracting loads of Colombians to enjoy the view....

At night, it really really takes your breath away....

It was great catching up with the guys from the boat, but I think we will leave the para-gliding for somewhere else. Tomorrow we head on to San Gil - another extreme sports destination and maybe we can find some thing dangerous to do there....


Unnati Aranya Apartments Noida said...

Very nice article... .many thanks.
apartments in noida
flats in noida
property in noida
aranya in noida

Unknown said...

ugg boots on sale
marc jacobs bags
ugg boots cheap
fendi belts
nike roshe run
coach purse
discount uggs
guess outlet
mcm bags
ugg boots sale uk
uggs clearance
manolo blahnik sale
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
air max 95
roshe run
nike air max 95
louis vuitton outlet
gucci handbags
cheap basketball shoes
ugg boots clearance
uggs on sale
louis vuitton outlet
nike shoes
uggs for sale
tods outlet
basketball shoes
cheap ugg boots
dolce and gabbana
fitflop shoes
nike roshe
nike kd
mcm handbags
kate spade outlet
fendi belt
tods shoes
ugg clearance
kd shoes
mcm outlet
tory burch outlet online

Unknown said...

cheap jordans, cheap jordan, jordan shoes for cheap, ugg australia, ugg, wholesale jordan shoes, Cheap LV Handbags, uggs on sale, Bags Louis Vuitton, ugg pas cher, ugg soldes, wholesale jordan shoes, Cheap jordans, cheap jordans, Cheap Nike jordan shoes, Discount Louis Vuitton, air jordan shoes, cheap nike jordan shoes, discount nike jordans, Discount LV Handbags, Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags, uggs outlet, cheap jordan shoes, wholesale jordan shoes for sale, ugg boots

Unknown said...

burberry sacrf
burberry sale
tory burch outlet
tory burch outlet online
tory burch handbags
tory burch sandals
tory burch sale
tory burch flats
tory burch shoes
air jordan 4
air jordan 11
air jordan 13
air jordan 6
air jordan gamma blue
air jordan concord
air jordan 10
air jordan 5
air jordan 9
lebron 12
kobe bryant shoes
air max 2015
supra shoes
oakley sunglasses wholesale
oakley outlet
oakley sunglasses
oakley vault
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ray ban aviator sunglasses
ray-ban sunglasses

Unknown said...

san antonio spurs jerseys
the north face jackets
nike running shoes
mizuno running
spurs jersey
canada goose outlet
oakland raiders jerseys
tommy hilfiger outlet store
derrick rose jersey
raiders jerseys
north face jackets
blake griffin jersey
chelsea soccer jersey
cheap jordans
ugg boots
the north face outlet
kobe bryant shoes
chanel handbags
denver broncos jerseys

Unknown said...

reebok shoes
tory burch outlet
fitflops sale clearance
michael kors handbags outlet
mulberry bags
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton pas cher
fitflops shoes
ugg outlet
nike tn pas cher
montblanc pens
cartier outlet store
louis vuitton bags
new balance shoes
louis vuitton bags cheap
ugg outlet
ugg outlet
adidas wings
fred perry polo
polo ralph lauren
mulberry sale
beats headphones
ralph lauren outlet
mulberry uk
michael kors outlet online
converse shoes
fitflops sale
pandora outlet
burberry sunglasses on sale
adidas outlet
cheap jordan shoes
michael kors handbags on sale
michael kors outlet
nike air max 2015
mulberry handbags sale
lululemon pants

chenlina said...

hermes bag
louis vuitton outlet
gucci outlet
gucci handbags
ugg sale
fitflop sandals
louis vuitton outlet
rolex watches
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
uggs sale
golden state warriors jerseys
adidas outlet
polo ralph lauren outlet
rolex watches
mbt shoes
coach outlet store online
christian louboutin outlet
louis vuitton outlet
uggs outlet
michael kors outlet
kobe 9 shoes
ugg boots
louis vuitton handbags
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors handbags
louis vuitton outlet
true religion
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet clearance
adidas originals
louis vuitton outlet
cheap cartier watches
ugg canada
pandora jewelry
louis vuitton outlet
ugg outlet

Unknown said...

kate spade outlet online
coach outlet
golden goose
coach outlet
nike air huarache
michael kors outlet
bottega veneta
longchamp outlet
ralph lauren uk

steve said...

افضل شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى الرياض افضل شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى الرياض
شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى دبي شركة شحن عفش من السعودية الى دبي

فني دهانات بالرياض

ارخص شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش من جدة الى الاردن شركة شحن عفش من السعودية الى الاردن

Quân Đào said...

Giá dịch vụ kế toán
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận cầu giấy
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận tại từ liêm
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận thanh xuân
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận hà đông
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận long biên
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận đống đa
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận ba đình
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận tây hồ
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận hoàng mai
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại thanh trì
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận hoàn kiếm
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận hai bà trưng
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại huyện đông anh
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại huyện gia lâm
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại huyện mê linh
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại huyện hoài đức
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận 1
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận 2
Dịch vụ kế toán thuế trọn gói tại quận 3