The Santander region of Colombia
24.08.2009 - 31.08.2009 27 °C
The night bus to Bucaramanga is comfortable and uneventful. We arrive at 5:30am and even at that hour this city is bustling, I wonder what it will be like in rush hour. There isn't too much to see here but it's a good day stopover to the mountain town of San Gil which we will hit tomorrow. For Ariel's birthday I treat her to an afternoon at the beauty salon for a toes, nails, and a haircut. It's really inexpensive here and I now understand how 99% of Colombian woman can afford to look marvelous. Impulsively but without regret she decides to cut her hair short! The poor Colombian hairdresser was upset and felt it was criminal to cut a ninas hair as most woman under 40 have long hair. While in Medellin we had a birthday dinner with favorite meal, cake and gifts with our friend Felicity from New Zealand.
At hostel Kasa Guane we meet a very friendly fellow, Ritchie, who owns and operates the paragliding center outside of town. He reminds me very much of Kim Faulks, one of the EPL drivers. Although I never knew Kim when he had hair I imagine he probably looked like this fellow. As well the demeanor and voice are oddly similar.
It's far cheaper than in Canada so I decide to take us all on tandem paragliding flights with guides. Our flights will take us above the city of Bucaramanga. As we arrive at the launch I notice how beautifully all the sails/kites/parachutes glide through the sky. They sail peacefully across the sky like birds and I am not struck with any fear at all. We sit and wait our turn and watch the tricky take offs and landings some rough and some effortless but no one gets hurt so we are ready.
I am first up and there are barely any instructions. Run for take off and put your feet up for landing, let the pilot, Jimi, do the rest. It's wonderful and for a half hour we sail around the country without any sense of fear for heights.
He does a trick, spiraling downwards and this is scary for a moment. For anyone thinking about trying this I recommend it although I know it's quite expensive at home. My landing is effortless and I am excited to watch the kids take-off. They too have a wonderful unforgettable ride and also experience the thrill of the downward spiral.
As I sit watching them in the sky I was struck with strong feelings of how incredible this and our entire trip has been and why this was the right thing to do. My eyes welled up and I also realized how lucky we are to have come all this way. The world away from home is incredible and friendly, people are the same everywhere beyond what the news tells us. A little courage and a few bucks can take you and your kids anywhere to experience these wonders.
I hope we have the opportunity on our trip to try this again. I have uploaded some videos to youtube and our account for viewing is banff1503.