25 Nov I ran over the edge and embraced the moment.
The skies were full of rain clouds on the day I woke up to go paragliding in Medellin, Colombia. I thought this was going to be the second time my hope to soar through the skies would be dashed. When we got the call that paragliding was still on, I was relieved that today would be the day I got to jump off a cliff.
Our driver arrived in a van big enough to accommodate our group of 5–myself, my two Embark co-founders Justin and Dave, Justin’s mom Terry and Emma…a digital nomad who describes herself as a location independent semi nomadic sustainable seafood consultant. Once we had everyone in the van we drove a grueling hour up twisting mountain roads to the San Felix, a mountain top where Pablo Escobar once owned a sprawling finca (farm). We reached our destination with stomachs churning and legs shaking — not related to paragliding, but because Jose our driver had driven up the mountain like a possessed man trying to break the land speed record in his van.
Sign up and payment was quick and easy, just USD$40 for a 20 min flight and USD$10 for a GoPro rental. After we paid the money and signed a very small insurance form, we were off to the launch zone, which was just a quick sprint up a nearly vertical hill. I can only blame the altitude and the street side empanadas for the amount of heavy breathing that I heard from the group.
Once at the top we were quickly ushered through the “gates” to the launch zone…and Dave and Justin were harnessed and up in the air before I even had time to take pictures. If you compared North American safety standards and precautions, you’d be expecting a 30 minute briefing on exactly what was going to happen and what to do in certain scenarios…….here in Medellin, orientation was based on a about 10 steps: 1) pay 2) take 9 steps and run off a cliff. That’s about it and that is also why I love Medellin. The place is alive with energy and possibilities and in Medellin sometimes you have to just take a leap of faith. So far all the leaps have worked out.
Once Justin and Dave were back on land after 20 minutes, it was my turn. This was my paragliding dream and I was harnessed in, told to run and then was in the air.
Quiet, blissful, windy, weightless. We soared right off the edge of the cliff and up higher and higher. My harness properly supporting my dangling legs was the only reminder that I wasn’t one of the birds flying level right past us.
Time slowed down. I got to fully appreciate the surroundings. There were mini waterfalls in the little gullies. I noticed the patterns of the tree lines that changed based on the altitude, I saw birds fly close enough to touch and other gliders silently flew below us. Everything was luscious and green. No screeching car horns, no music, no voices, no traffic and not one distraction.
I honestly can’t tell you the last time my mind was blank. Embark has been such an all encompassing challenge that I feel it takes up every waking minute and even invades our dreams with to do lists and robs us of sleep. But when you’re up there high above the earth soaring like a majestic falcon you can’t help but close your eyes, let out a “wahooo” and smile until your face hurts.
I loved it. It was a great experience. I embraced the moment and seized every second to crystalize memories to savor forever.
Justin’s mom Terry, who had come to spectate, was so enthralled by our glowing reports that she bravely signed up and went as well.
Medellin has been a magical experience. It’s a city with a dark history of violence that people are trying to forget. The city has spent the past 15 years re-inventing itself, taking risks and putting itself out to the world. With all the positive energy flowing through the valley that surrounds Medellin, it’s easy to take a chance here. Whether it’s a leap of faith off a cliff or a tour through the once deadly barrios…adventures in Medellin will make you so happy that you decided to visit.
Link to high flying loops: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNKjew4BwKb/?taken-by=frasman000&hl=en