Glorious Day

Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, Bucaramanga, Colombia, paragliding, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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View from the balcony

Amazing morning of flying today. First flight caught just a bubble, second flight caught a nice light thermal that took me back up over the launch, third flight caught thermal after thermal, probably reaching about 300 meters over launch.

Watched from above as the wind speed flag changed from green to yellow and kept going up, catching more thermals. Went in close to the launch for some light ridge soaring, but that bottomed out, Read more


How to travel full time: Packing Edition

Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, How to, Recommendations | 1 Comment

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I travel 11 months of every year, and I do it with a smaller pack than almost all of the travelers I meet. Beyond making things easier to carry (which I don’t have to do as often as you’d think), it considerably simplifies my life.

In fact, the last time I was home, I went through box after box of accumulated possessions, and my prevalent emotions were horror at what I’d amassed, and relief that I didn’t have to own it anymore.

So here’s how to travel full time: travel edition.

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Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, Bucaramanga, Colombia, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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Puppy that showed up at the fly site.


Bus from Bucaramanga to San Gil

Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, Bucaramanga, Colombia, Long, Slider, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2012-02-25 16.54.04In typical Colombian bus ride fashion, the bus that we were assured three times had air conditioning does, but it never turns on. The bus, which left twenty minutes late, has inexplicably stopped fifteen minutes into the trip at a rest stop / market for an indeterminate amount of time. Also there is vallenato blaring over the radio.

I investigate what the story is with the stop. It turns out that this is actually a three hour bus ride, not a two hour bus ride as they told us at the terminal. Furthermore they openly admit that the whole air conditioning thing was a lie. When I ask about the whole extra hour they added to the trip, they tell me it is two hours, but two long hours. I ask how an hour could last longer than 60 minutes, and they say ok it’s three hours. One of the vendors who comes onto the bus laughs that the bus company doesn’t count the time from the bus terminal to this random rest stop.

Phew, just dodged a bullet when a particularly corpulent passenger who would never have fit into one seat passed me up as a neighbor.

Anyway, it’s the only way to San Gil.

Update: bought some wayfarer knockoffs for $6 from a vendor who came to my window at a random stop. Was briefly negotiating down from $12, but somehow the price went down quite a bit as the bus started moving.

These replace the turquoise stunners I gifted to the pool under a waterslide at chica mocha.

Looks like the ride’s finally started in earnest now, only 80 minutes late. And also in typical Colombian fashion every few minutes we’re bombarded with views of gorgeous green hillsides. The moving landscape is a bit too confusing for my camera, but it’s very pretty.

Cows!

Photo is out the window of the bus. Because of my camera’s reaction to the speed of nearby objects, the only photos that came out were when we were driving on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, that happened a lot!


Waiting on the wind

Posted on by Brandon Green in Best Of, Bucaramanga, Colombia, paragliding, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sitting on the hillside with the rest of the group, watching the windsock, watching the birds, watching a new student learn how to inflate his chute. Looks like he’s doing pretty well.
Mostly though we’re looking down to the valley below, trying to imagine how the wind navigates the hillside and how we can fly better and get higher.
The birds flying above us are incredibly helpful, because they glide as visible points revolving in thermals, using the upward movement of warmer air to help them conserve energy. You almost never see them flap.
Apparently some people paraglide with a falcon on their shoulder to fly ahead and act as a probe, scouting the thermals and instinctively demonstrating the most efficient approaches, but we’re lucky enough to have our own here to tell us where to go.
We hear the sound of a glider whizzing through the air accompanied by a hysterical giggle as a tandem pilot pulls an acro maneuver and buzzes the launch.
It’s mid afternoon, which means dynamic flights, but right now the yellow flag signifies that the wind hasn’t calmed down enough for us to take off – only the pros right now.
The student seems to be doing pretty well, kiting a speed wing normally used for skiing, but perfect for showing the basics of inflation while winds are fast, because it won’t launch you into the air before you’re ready.
To be honest I’m a bit relieved that the number of students means I’m not having to ground handle right now, the speed wing can be a bit unforgiving and after this morning’s landing I’d rather just relax for a bit.
We turn up to hear screams fading in and out as a tandem passenger swings around in spiral after spiral. Next the pilot does some pretty impressive wingovers, followed by another launch zone buzzing spiral.
The chulos move en masse over the valley and then back to the hilltop, probably a quick thermal.
The screaming passenger lands then runs, again screaming, to hug her friend as soon as she is unhooked from the harness.
Another tandem pilot takes off then comes back to touch a wing tip to the landing zone, showing off. A few of us hear the new student asking someone “is that guy really good?” and we laugh a bit.
Some of these pilots are just astoundingly skilled and ballsy, something that comes from taking your first solo flight at twelve years old and flying 300 days a year.
As I walk away to publish this, my friend’s voice carries and I hear “that’s why they call it the death spiral!”