Crawling Through Muck and Luxuriating in Massage Oil

Posted on by Brandon Green in Colombia, San GIl, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Yesterday we went caving at Cueva la Vaca, which involved a lot of swimming underwater and crawling for unreasonable distances on hands and knees in order to fit through very small spaces. My previous caving companions would have hated this place, but I thought it was pretty fun.

Once back, we had lunch and then spent some time relaxing, then a local on a motorcycle showed up and I hopped on the back to be whisked through San Gil to have a pretty impressive hour long massage. Apparently caving requires a lot of muscles I don’t normally use, and combined with the squats and deadlifts I had done the day before, I was pretty sore, because I ended up nearly screaming a few times.

Altogether, the massage and motorcycle ride cost 40k pesos, or about $24, plus tip. Apparently there’s another place in town that’ll give you 90 minutes for the same price, so I’m hoping to check that out before I leave.

After riding back to town, now completely relaxed, I played some board games with the other people in the hostel, then we all hopped in taxis to go play Tejo, which I’ll explain in my next post.

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.


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!”

First Lesson

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

1359653470.jpgI get back from my first lesson and plop down on the couch in fatigue, book in hand. A woman walks through the living room carrying a good-sized tortoise. Ok.

After watching some acro-paragliding videos, we figure out the logistics of going to town for groceries, then head back to the launch site for lunch. Sitting here now taking in the view and listening to the winds, too strong to fly in, before doing a little yoga to stave of the soreness I know I’m going to feel tonight.

Oh man, after the yoga I’m already feeling a bit better. Think I did a few sun salutations, but to be honest I just stretched whatever muscle hurt the most.

If there were a hammock next to the launch site, I would pass out before lunch is ready.

The ground work this morning was a lot of fun. I feel like I’m learning well – at the end of the morning lesson I just started feeling what an inflated parachute feels like at the end of my brake lines.

Lessons start tomorrow.

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

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