What was I thinking?!
Fair warning - this post may contain swear words and graphic detail about vomit and poop. Read at your own risk! Devon and I had both heard amazing things about paragliding in Medellin. When researching, we came across a blog called “The Unconventional Route”, which we immediately related to. Young Canadians travelling the world! The blog had an article on paragliding in Medellin, and how to take this awesome hike up to the park, rather than being a “normal and boring tourist” taking a shuttle. A chance to get off the beaten path? Sounded great to us! Ok well more to Devon than me (a $4 shuttle was sounding pretty nice and easy). We set out that morning and with the help of the instructions on the blog and a terrain map, we were able to find the trail quite easily. The views were amazing all the way up. We climbed up to a beautiful waterfall and had the vista all to ourselves - we didn’t see a single tourist (or other soul for that matter) - it definitely felt off the beaten track. About 2.5 hrs in when we were climbing straight up hill in the dead heat of the day through the most cow shit I have ever seen, the novelty of “the unconventional route” was starting to wear off for me.
Oh did I mention we had to jump a few electric fences? Even the cows we passed seemed to give us a look of pity, or was it disdain?
We finally made it to the top, only to find out that the field we had been looking at was actually a different company. We had to climb further and go up a few flights of stairs to get to the company that we booked with. Turns out if you want to avoid feeling nervous before doing something terrifying, all you have to do is go hiking in the middle of the day through cow fields, and you will feel every other emotion except nervous!
So we made it to the top. We checked in and met our pilots. It was going to be a bit of a wait, so we snacked on granola bars and drank some water. For some reason, I thought it would be a fine idea to also have a coconut ice cream, an empanada, and a hot chocolate! Hindsight is always 20/20 right? We were expecting a safety briefing as we had read online all about the safety and professionalism of this company in particular in Medellin...but nope, within 5 minutes both of us were strapped in with a pilot who spoke broken English. I just remember walking on the grass until my feet couldn’t touch anymore, and then we were up up up and away!
The view was beautiful and it felt surprisingly relaxing. Definitely not the adrenaline rush that I would assume you would get with skydiving or bungee jumping. In any case, things were going well until 5 minutes in when I started to feel super nauseous. “Okay, keep it together, mind over matter” I kept telling myself. It was at this very moment I was regretting not only eating right before the flight, but also my food choices. Deep fried empanada? Ugh oh. I told my pilot I was feeling a bit nauseous, and asked him if we could go back. We were so close to landing but I could not hold it in any longer - I puked in transit just before landing. Thankfully I missed the pilot (maybe he ducked out of the way!). Also it was fortunate that the GoPro was facing forwards and not filming me at that moment (although Devon thinks that would have been hilarious to capture).
Reflecting back, it is a great story and one I will always remember (and be reminded of I’m sure haha). At the time, I remember feeling silly for not remembering that I am definitely the type to get motion sick, and that food before any type of activity whether it be a rollercoaster, paragliding, or kayaking (yes one time I threw up after kayaking!), is a bad idea. Advice to future paragliders: pop some nausea medication and stick to a light breakfast and fluids before!! Oh and definitely take the bus/a taxi/a shuttle there and back!!