Sitting at the dinner table in the seaside city of Kas, our cycling guide listed options for the upcoming rest day. Lying on the beach, a ferry ride to a nearby Greek island or paragliding off a 500 meter cliff behind our hotel were offered up as individual choices. Before the word paraglide had fully left the guide’s lips a woman on our tour , who although would not declare her age we guessed it to be in late 70s, screamed that she wanted to go paragliding.
Our cycling group mantra had evolved ‘If she can do it, then I can do it!’. Hubby and I were signed up for the following afternoon.One would hate to miss an adventure.
The following day Hubby and I were picked up by three very friendly and large Turkish men in a van dating back several decades. They spoke some English and with brief introductions and exchange of names we were off. Likely just the excitement of traveling in the dilapidated van up the switchback roads would have been thrill enough.
At a certain point the roads really became rock paths with a hundred or so black goats leaping out of the way as the van sped by. One of the paragliding instructors turned around in his van seat as we skirted the four hoofed mountain climbers and with a smile said to us, “Turkish kebabs?”
The van came suddenly to a halt at the top of the mountain. There below us lay the town of Kas with it’s beautiful white buildings, yachts in the harbor and the small surrounding islands jutting out of the sea. The trio of men made quick work of laying out our orange and red sails, getting us into our flight suits, overalls and helmets. I almost laughed out loud as there was no waiver to sign and no exchange of money prior to departure. We were most assuredly not in North America!
In case you have been thinking that we had entirely lost our minds, I will now tell you that each of us was harnessed to one of the Turkish gentleman, who took care of all safety details of the flight. Our job consisted of running off the edge of the mountain with a Turkish man in tow.
The descent that ensued was astounding. The quiet of flying above land and sea, the only sound the flapping of the sail above. Flying next to the cliffs one gives all trust to the pilot who excitedly pointed out the islands below and the points of interest in the town as if he were guiding a bus tour.
The wind was apparently perfect for our flights with enough updraft for the sails to go ever that much higher as if one had become an eagle overnight. My pilot was gleeful to have me as because of my weight he had an easy time of rising higher and higher above the idyllic seaside setting.
The thing we had not really considered when watching the others in the morning gliding so gently down from the mountain above was the possibility of motion sickness. Now I imagine many of you are thinking, well you two are definitely consuming too much Raki (Turkish equivalent of Ouzo) if you thought there would be no motion flying like a bird for 30 minutes over the sea.
Blame it on the alcohol the evening prior or just being idiotic but I will summarize it by saying that my pilot had his hands full dealing with me. I managed to land without needing to use my air sickness bag….really… who knew such a thing would be supplied while paragliding? When the guide realized my predicament he whipped out a plastic grocery bag for me to hold (those poor unsuspecting folks on the beach below).
What truly touched my heart was my pilot repeatedly apologized to me. He was just doing what I had paid him to…well actually I hadn’t even paid him he was just trusting I would…and I was the one causing the grief. It was indeed another experience of a lifetime, air sickness and all.
Click on the 20 second video below off see me run off the cliff and begin the descent. Is paragliding going on your bucket list?