Paragliding is where it’s AT, y’all!

It’s easy to forget how lucky we are LIVING here in Costa Rica. I don’t think there are very many of us who don’t wake up and think about how grateful we are to be here. But there’s a point where grateful, lucky and blessed culminate and become a daily celebration of life that to an outsider, probably doesn’t look like much.

I complained just the other day to a friend about feeling like I should be doing more sight-seeing and having more adventures. I felt guilty for not doing the BIG extreme zip lines or scuba diving with whales or diving off waterfall cliffs. He promptly reminded me that I’ve had more adventures in the last week than most people have in 10 years.

Just like anywhere we live for a certain amount of time it becomes the little things that make life truly grand. I love phrases like this one. They can mean so many things. It’s a “jumbo shrimp” – an oxymoron. A paradox. The little things make our one thing GRAND.

That being said, I won’t bore you with philosophical meanderings today. Today I will tell you about one big thing that was just down right FUN.

Paragliding. I freaking love it. From the moment the guys begin to strap me in to the harness I’m already floating. I guess there are people who would say that is an extreme sport but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like FREEDOM. It feels RIGHT and real when we run off the side of the cliff and the feet don’t dangle but purposefully align themselves with the knees and the hips. A weighty thought in their general direction is as precise an input as is necessary to make a turn.

The whole body is engaged but relaxed in a chair that magically folds underneath you once you are airborne. The arms or more accurately the hands and fingers feel and control the giant and usually colorful sunbrella above us, adjusting the angle of attack with chords attached to the foil. There is another set of chords for braking, to slow down and to land. It is as ethereal a machine as I’ve ever encountered. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of becoming one with a machine in the air. Nope, not even that.

Maneuvers have always been my favorite part of any activity. For me, it’s not the doing of the thing so much as feeling out the boundaries of … oh sorry, didn’t mean to go all metaphysical on ya again. Seems that’s sort of my “go to” when I get excited.

So, we’re flying now – soaring really. It’s quiet. Peaceful. Serene. We can almost whisper to each other. This is definitely not the time or place for idle chitchat but sound comes out of me like an uncontrollable yawned confession. My mouth just opens and the words, “THIS is what life is about. THIS is where we are supposed to be,” are breathed into existence. When I see a place from this perspective—this singular all-encompassing vision of a vast canopy of trees from above; it gives me a feeling that all is right in the world. It just makes sense. Seeing the place where I live from that perspective gives me a sense of purpose and direction both literally and figuratively.

We follow King Vultures around, thanking them for their intuitive direction. We are awed and inspired by their sheer size. It’s hard to know how big a thing is until you see it eye to eye. We thank them for not dive bombing the chute and allowing us to share their space. And yeah, it pretty much goes on like that for a while floating and flying and grazing the spaces between hilltop peaks, along tree stands looking out for the big cats it’s possible to see from this angle.

longsandybeachWe gain as much altitude as we can, make our final bodily adjustments and begin the decent. This isn’t so much a conscious effort as it is a turning of our gaze in the direction of the ocean. We follow the places where heat can escape upward along roads and rooftops. Places that seen from above with these eyes; seem completely alien and foreign to me as a means of travel or a place to make a nest.

We constantly scan for energy (heat and air) to carry us; for a clear path free of obstacles to that energy and for a safe place to land just in case. Real flyers don’t crash, they have emergency landing procedures. My pilot’s plan includes landing in a mango tree because then at least there is something to eat while we wait for the pick-up crew to find us.

The approach to final happens over the ocean with a pass close enough to the shore to see what’s there and not. A brief glimpse of the cool depths from above is like looking into the heart of a star sapphire or being able to see inside a person through their open mouth. The white on top mixed with more air turns to light blue, diffusing into cerulean before being swallowed and transmuted into pure water from hydrogen, oxygen and radiant energy.

The beaches are long legged blonde beauties with golden tans bathing in the tropical sun, misting themselves with the whole of the ocean’s edgy kisses. The soft wheat-colored sands entice with their warmth, inviting you to bury yourself in the bosom of the earth – that sweet spot where the ocean meets the sand and roll around in it. Your feet don’t touch the ground so much as fall upon her back.

And then it’s time to pack it up. Get in the car and drive back up the mountain in silence knowing this was no small thing but that words would never be enough to describe it. That it would have to be experienced and even then, it would come out a whole ‘nuther story from someone else’s mouth. How all the little things that make my life truly grand, wouldn’t even make the cut in yours.

Here’s hoping all the little things in your life add up to one very big thing,

Costacalle de Uvita

 

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