Monday, July 6, 2009

Al país que fueres has lo que vieres...

I have had an amazing few days, I can't even believe that I am here right now. This weekend I of course went to the hot springs, las aguas terminales, and then on to the adventure of a lifetime, la parapente, paragliding. It was soooo amazing. I got to have my champagne on Independence Day, like I wanted to, and had an unforgettable night in the mountains, talking to mis amigos and some Venezuelans that I had just met from VENUSA.

The hike up to our campsite was UNBELIEVABLE. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. For some reason, I thought that the bus we took would just drop us off at our campsite, but obviously, that wasn't the case at all. We were instead dropped off at this little restaurant with a mile uphill to climb before we got to our campsite. I think it was the combination of the altitude, lack of food, and excitement to just BE there, but it was extremely difficult. By the time we got to camp, all of us were dead tired and on the ground, panting.

The hot springs themselves were fantastic though, completely unbelievable. I mean, it was actually hot! The water was hot! In the mountains, it's much colder than it is in the city, and I was never uncomfortable in the water, it was that warm.

After we finally returned to camp and got settled, well after the sun had gone down, a party was already beginning. I can't think of a better way to spend my first weekend here in Venezuela, than partying in the mountains. The best thing is... we were in bed by 11pm and awake by 7am.

Fantastic.

On Sunday half of our group went to go paragliding, and the other half went home. By the time we got to the paragliding site, I was jumping up and down because I was SOOO excited. There were lots of pilots there practicing and doing jumps by themselves and with other people, so I wasn't worried about it at all. i just wanted to GO! I was paired up with a pilot called Enrique from Venezuela who had been paragliding for more than 22 years, so he started before I was even born. Needless to say, he's still alive, so I didn't worry too much anymore. I was in the second group of people to go, so I had to wait for an extra forty minutes before the first group came back. It was awesome watching them before I went, I was able to see what it's like, what takeoff looks like, things like that. But it was also unbearable to have to wait for much longer.

Finally it was my turn, after the first girl, Maggie, came back and we had to wait for the wind to get better again. I got strapped in, and ready to fly with my pilot. To take off, you need to literally run off the cliff and let the wind take you, which is, trust me, the most unnatural feeling ever.

However, when we got in the air, it was a very calm feeling. For a moment I was weightless, and before I knew it, the ground and people on the mountain were already very distant. I think the only thing I could manage to say was, "whoa!". He then took some turns and spins, which felt like I was on the most amazing rollercoaster ever. And since I am a big rollercoaster freak, it was of course, amazing.

The best part about the ride was that unlike the first group, that started from and returned to the same place, we took off from the mountain, and then met everyone on the ground near Merida, thousands of feet below. When we were descending, you could instantly feel the temperature change, it was like hitting a wall of hot air. When we landed, the rest of our group was there to greet us. The whole experience was unbelievable, I am still in a state of disbelief that I actually DID that.

When I got back home last night though, I don't think I have ever been so happy to have hot food, a (semi) warm shower, and a bed to sleep in.

This morning I had to get up very early again to get breakfast and get to school. I swear, mi madre has been making our arepas bigger and bigger every day. This morning they were so big, I could barely finish it. But, alas, I did, and had a nice little food belly on the way to school.

This evening, Jenee and I and some people from VENUSA went to see the movie Up in Spanish. Whoa! It was so much fun. Hearing Spanish all day has helped me so much, and this movie wasn't any different. It was an awesome experience, and was also very, very cheap. It was only 6 Bolivares to see it. There were no subtitles or anything, so I was left to try to understand as much as I could. I think I did a reasonably good job.

Well, it's late, and I must get to bed. It is early to rise again tomorrow morning, and I need to look fresh.

Ciao

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