Paragliding in Mendoza, Argentina
I was the kind of girl who would get motion sickness from a long car ride. Flying was worse. This was an unfortunate trait of mine that could have limited me in my travels, but I didn’t want to let it, so I signed up to go tandem paragliding in the Andes Mountains outside of Mendoza.
My friend and I showed up at the base of the mountain, ready to go. We piled into a jeep with 2 paragliding instructors. We took a very curvy, rocky road up to the top of the mountain. I could feel my stomach churning, not from nerves, but from my cursed motion sickness. I steeled myself, and refused to let the queasiness ruin this experience for me.
Once we got to the top, it was just the 4 of us. My friend went first, so I watched her get buckled into her parachute. Our eyes widened when the instructors explained that we would be sprinting off the mountain, as in, keep running towards the edge of a massive cliff and hope that the parachute opens properly.
Terrifying, yet somehow so very exciting.
I watched as my friend ran as fast as she could while still strapped to an instructor and a heavy parachute. Just before she reached the edge, her feet lifted off the ground. After few seconds of comical running-in-air movements, she settled back into her little paragliding chair, and sailed off into the sky.
I was in awe, and even more anxious for my turn than before. However, the 2nd instructor interrupted my frantic photo snapping and informed me that we had to drive back down the mountain to get them, then drive back up for my turn. That’s right – 2 more trips on that horrible, bumpy road.
Of course, I had no choice, so I hopped back into the jeep and suffered through the ride down. The ride up was rough, but it was made a bit easier as my friend rattled on about how exhilarating the flight had been.
When we got to the top, it was my turn. After I was buckled in, I tested the feeling of the weight and tried to get accustomed to having a human strapped to my back. It was a bit strange, but knowing that person was there to guarantee the parachute opened properly and then ensure I landed on the ground and not pancake-style into the side of a mountain, was comforting. He made some last minute adjustments, and then it was time to run.
I kept my eyes on the sky above the cliff, and tried not to think of the rocky abyss below. I would like to say I sprinted, but with all that extra weight and gear, I did more of an awkward run-shuffle. It didn’t matter, before I knew it, I was running on air.
Once we were gliding smoothly, I was able to sit back into a little chair and whip out my camera. I snapped photos wildly, but I barely looked through the lens. I let my eyes wander and devour every inch of the scenery.
A little ways into the flight, the instructor allowed me to do a bit of the steering. While it was fun, I quickly handed the reins back to the professional. There were some mighty sharp rocks around.
The best part of the whole experience was actually the last 10 seconds. While we were slowly approaching the ground, my instructor asked, “Are you ready for the acrobatics?” Before I could make sense of the question, he tugged hard on the parachute, sending us into a tight, fast spiral. “Start running!” he screamed over the gusts of wind in our ears. I felt ridiculous as I ran in the air, but as I hit the ground and made a perfect landing, all worries of looking silly were far from my mind.
At the end of the day, the score was settled:
Rease’s Travel Adventures: 1, Rease’s Motion Sickness: 0.
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