A couple of months ago a friend of a friend offered me something I could not refuse: to fly!
I had tried paragliding once before over an incredibly beautiful beach in the Northeast of Brazil, but to fly over the country side of France would certainly be a completely different experience.
My first instructions were to take a train to Villeneuve Loubet and wait for my ride at the station. Julien, then, picked me up and we drove up to Gréolières.
We started climbing up the hill until this car passed us by and offered me a ride. That was when the adventure began! I was sitting in the trunk of the car with other fellow adventurers and their equipment going up an absurdly bumpy and steep road. It wasn’t pleasant, I confess, but it was funny and the adrenaline started to flow there.
On the top, Julien gave me the recommendations for the take off in perfect Portuguese, even though nothing can really prepare you for what is to come. We watched a few other people jump away and soar in the air until it was finally our turn. Helmet: check. Paraglider: check. Selfie stick: check. Belts: safely strapped, check three times.
Julien counted to 3 and we ran until the ground escaped our feet and there was nothing left under us but air and tree tops getting further away.
Paragliding is really comfortable because it’s just like sitting on a chair where you can simply relax and enjoy the view (while someone else is doing all the work). It is totally safe to take your camera out of your pocket and capture the moment, even though Julien was a little vexed by it, he likes to fully enjoy the flight without cameras (but I need to register everything!! I can’t help it!!!). Also, Julien has many years of experience and knows exactly what he is doing, which made me feel completely relaxed and safe and allowed me to seize the moment to the fullest.
After a few minutes in the air, my pilot told me that the wind conditions were not so great and that we would have to go back and land. The landing was smooth and everything went well. We, then, packed away the equipment, which is not easy, and started to make our way back to the car.
On the way up, that same truck passed us by and offered us a second ride up the hill. Julien and I looked at each other and asked “Should we go again?” Well “Pourquoi pas?” And so there was I uncomfortably riding towards the jumping point again.
This time I wasn't as nervous. We flew for half an hour and talked about everything. Julien will surely make you laugh in any of the five languages he speaks!
While we were in the sky, though, the wind changed once more and forced us to prepare for landing. Julien asked me to assist him by holding the cables in order to ease the landing and so I got a taste of what it feels like to control the paraglider just a little bit. The second landing was hilarious because I wasn't able to stand up and the wind dragged us along the floor for a few meter and I just couldn't get it together to stop it because I was laughing so hard. Everything was fine in the end and all that excitement made me hungry!
We folded the paraglider once more into the bag and walked to the restaurant near by. After eating a huge steak with fries and sharing some beers, we hitchhiked up to the car.
On our way down back to Villeneuve, Julien proposed to stop at this waterfall on the Gorges du Loup. I would never say no to that. And that was how I went to another magical place here and dived in the coldest water ever! Seriously, I don't know how I survived, specially after that steak and fries.
On the train back home, reminiscing about the crazy, fun, amazing day I had, I looked at the pictures and videos I took but they couldn't express the way I felt up there, Julien was right…
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