Yep, that would be me hang gliding over one of the most famous and perhaps exotic cities in the world: Rio de Janeiro.
Our trip to Rio was one of those things that just happens. We happened to be invited to a wedding somewhere in south Brazil, Garrett thought it would be cool to say yes and we kinda took it from there. I became an American citizen, renewed my Colombian passport and obtained my American documents in a 6 week window in order to be ready for this trip.
Flying to Rio was fun! I was super excited to get a great aerial view of my beloved South American mountains (especially those of my native Colombia). We arrived in Rio at 8 AM local time after traveling for about 13 hours! Our driver Caio took us to Copacabana Beach and shared some details about the architecture of the city and the great extent of its infamous favelas (the slums). The first hour in Rio was time for readjustment. The air felt different, colors were intense, there were loud noises around us, people were walking on the expressway taking advantage of chaotic traffic to sell chips and water, walls (or expression murals) were filled with graffiti, motorcycles drove by really fast, and Caio practiced his English with the eagerness of one trying to pass the American citizenship test…this I personally know.
Our first goal after checking into a small studio in Copacabana was to find a good place to hangglide. We found a company online and using my Portuñol, transportation arrangements were made. This was an amazing experience! We signed our lives away, met our instructor and were driven about 10 minutes up to a mountain to the take-off platform. My pilot, Navarro, was very serious and passionate about our flight. He demanded that I did everything gracefully, my movements had to be precise yet gentle. He held a 5 minute tutorial, put a bunch of over-sized gear on me and off we went. We ran as fast as we could and 3 seconds later we were birds flying over Rio. That’s about as wordy as my description of that experience can get. It was a very exciting and personal time…8-10 minutes during which every fiber of my being was fully engaged and overtaken by what my eyes were seeing. One word: Magical…two words for you: do it!