Saturday, October 08, 2011

Frosty in Rio

Rio for me had a rough start, for sure, but it showcased Brazilian graciousness. What a nice bunch of people.

As for paragliding, yes, I hooked up with the boys as soon as I jacked in at that miserable little hostel, which for all the noise and other difficulties, was full of nice people. The next day I was counseled to take a taxi to the ferry to a taxi by Marcello, who is running this para-tour because public transportation would be a nightmare. Having some experience with transporting a full harness and other bags through many sorts of obstacle courses, I took note. But I took a poll of locals at the hostel and they recommended the bus. They should know, right? The city bus that I was somewhat dreading turned out to be maybe the smoothest part of the trip. Positive vibrations included a passenger offered to move so I could get some bay shots, being kept informed of trip progress, and being dropped off 1/2 block from hotel.

The parapente pilots are from California. After running and swimming and playing on some beach exercise stuff, I found that I'm rooming with a post-doc mathematician and a mechanical engineer. Another pilot, Oleg, a systems security guy, who breaks into companies in pursuit of target documents, might have his "KGB" call-sign that I coined stick. (My Oahu call sign is "Frosty"-- short for "Frosty Balls".) They are all interesting and a very nice bunch of guys. That very first day we all did sled rides off a hill out in the boonies with a couple of automatic weapon wearing cops as an audience. I am very pleased with my new wing and cannot wait to try some maneuvers. After landing with cows, my walk through the country, first hooking up with Albert by radio then the Land Rover strongly reminded me of the green hills of the Jamaican highlands where I used to work.

Yesterday we drove in a big van out past Copacabana Beach and up into the hills to a very exciting launch above the city. The steep and carpeted paraglider launch is located beneath a hang glider launch ramp. When the first hang glider noisily and dramatically launched into the clouds surrounding launch I exclaimed "Holy Shit!" I was the first paraglider off the hill. There were still clouds, but I could see the next ridge. I opted for a forward launch, my first with my new wing, in the very light winds. The launch is very steep and you very quickly run out of ground as you get lift. It is so steep that the wing is partially loaded by your descent. That makes for a big "swoop" that feels a bit like what the hang gliders do. There was no workable lift as I flew along some ridges and a big favela and then tried for some convergence on a ridge before I set up for smoothly landing on the beach. Yeah, I looked for hotel lift, too, but it just wasn't happening. I was the only pilot to try a second time and just got more of the same. My ride to launch with a psycho driver was nearly as exciting.

Some of the boys went out last night, but I stayed in. Yesterday included at least six uncomfortable hours cramped in a van. I hope the weather gods are kind to us today. We really need some wind in the right direction and then some thermals. Paragliding contains a good dose of "pray for sets" and "in god's hands". I really need a better dose of adrenalin than I got launching yesterday-- and not so much driving around.

More later,

1 comment:

firedave2 said...

John, try club 'Help!' on Copacabana for a different type of adventure. Then again I haven't been there for 20 years, so things might be different.

Also Ray's buddy, Frank Brown lives in Vitoria, which has lots of flying around it. Contact Ray for Franks number.