Sunday, March 1, 2009

And I´m free...

Free falling? Well, not quite, free-gliding? It´s one of those things you should do in Rio - take a ride up (in some sort of a very rickety contraption) to the top of Pedra Bonita mountain, then run full speed off the edge of the cliff! Right, with a hang glider strapped to you. Bungy jumping? check! Sky diving? check. Obviously, hang-gliding in Rio was meant to be... so Cyrus and I - by the way, for anyone wondering, when I got back from Antarctica, I had no idea Cyrus was in Rio either... and he apparently had no idea Carnival was coming... but if anyone is remotely surprised to find Cyrus randomly appearing at some remote part of the globe obviously don´t know him very well - so Cyrus and I caught a cab to Pedra Bonita on our last day in Rio (before heading of to Iguazu, see below) and figured we´d try a little gliding. The cab drivers in Rio seem to be notoriously clueless about where they are going, so I suppose I should be glad that our driver did know the way to the mountain, but clearly did not know that you need to go down to the bottom first to recruit yourself a pilot - he just took us straight to the top. That´s ok, after 30 minutes of watching and deliberating, we caught a ride back down the mountain in what was basically a dune buggy:

Soon enough, I was back at the top and gettnig ready to run off the ramp pictured here at full speed:

Cyrus thought better of paying a lot of money to run off a cliff and stayed on the beach

And very shortly thereafter, we were in the air! Running off the edge of the cliff is actually quite easy - just try to make sure you don´t get tangled up with your pilot. Once in the air, you are just floating down quite gently back to ground, the whole flight only takes about 10 minutes, and I got all the way to the 5 minute mark before starting to feel a little bored and asking if the thing can go faster (yes!) or make any sharp turns (no... boo!)

Looking down at the beach - note the other glider below us, they are all taking off one right after the other

and looking off in a distance at some surrounding mountains

Pretty soon we were skimming just above the perfect white sands at the beach and coming in (rather quickly, I thought) for a landing, but slowing down quite gracefully right before touching down. All in all, it really isn´t so much about the adrenaline rush here, it´s just a really cool way to get a new and different perspective on the Rio surroundings.

And I´m free... free... gliding through the air...

And the following day, we climbed onto our bus and headed South, away from the beach, to Iguazu.

A few sights in Rio (other than the general insanity of Carnival... pictures coming, I promise!):

Santo Cristo towering over the city. It was the only day I was in Rio where it was even a little cloudy. We did meet Sasha and Dasha (from Moscow) while waiting in line.

Sugar Loaf mountain and the cable car that leads up to it

The view out onto the ocean from the top of Sugar Loaf

A monument... that probably symbolizes something important at the bottom of Sugar Loaf. Not actually all that interesting, but...

if you look closely at the bottom right... you´ll find this Brazilian princess doing some modeling by the monument. No idea who she is or what was going on, but I wasn´t going to pass it up without getting a picture!

1 comment:

dlott said...

Wait, you guys weren't planning on meeting up in Rio, it just happened!? Cyrus, that's just absurd. Boy I wish my shoulder worked.