Ok, I know it’s been a while since I posted anything but I think how much I do each day is inversely related to how much time/effort I put into blogging. San Gil is known as an adventure sports town and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing 🙂
This morning (August 16th) I only had my own company to keep, as Giulia isn’t staying here long. So didn’t do much in the morning, just bummed around the city centre and got myself orientated. The street my hostel is on is literally on a 45 degree angle up. Every time I walk back it’s a workout! And they have a system that you have to buzz to enter and the owners always answer. Each time they open the door they are greeted by me: huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf wanting to get let in!
By lunchtime I was bored and decided to book in to do an activity in the afternoon. Activity chosen: paragliding! Just over $30 for about 15mins in the air is crazy cheap. Wasn’t sure if for that price there was something missing…parachute? Guide? Instructions?
In my group, was an American girl who is currently teaching English in Bogota, and 3/1 American/English guys: fun bunch of people. We had to watch a safety video before heading off; it was backed by intense, loud music which I’d associate more with skydiving that with this general floating in the air activity.
About an hour later we arrived at the take off point. The view from there is spectacular. Almost straight away I was put into a harness and without so much as a “ready?” we were in the air! Paragliding is awesome! Aside from the initial ‘oh, my feet aren’t on the ground anymore’ surprise, it’s not scary at all. So so much fun! I actually enjoyed it more than skydiving. You’re basically floating in the sky using a massive bird wing to stay afloat. And unlike something like an engine, it’s not going to randomly fail – yes, that makes me feel better.
The guy flying my parachute did all these cool twirls and twists, direction and height changes – it was super awesome. Though by the 10 minute mark I was starting to feel air-sick…think sea sick but in the air. Annoyed that I forgot to take my travel sickness tablets, I tried to stay with it but it eventually got to the point when I had to ask to go down. I stubbled out of the harnesses and just collapsed on the ground feeling incredibly dizzy.
In the last minute or so, my arms, from elbows to fingertips had started getting really bad pins and needles. By the time I was lying on the ground, my left hand had cramped and I was struggling to move my muscles. It was a very weird sensation. It took about 8 mins of just lying there to get normal movement back in that hand. But in that time I had to dodge other paragliders landing because of course I had just collapsed in the middle of the ‘stay out of this area’ area. Anyway, other than the hand issue and the dizziness, it was a freaking amazing experience.
By the time I was dropped back to my hostel (and had to walk up that dreaded hill) it was 5pm and I was starving! All I’d eaten all day was a small chicken pastry early in the morning. Just as I was about to step outside to get some empanadas it started bucketing down. It rained and rained and rained, heavily, for about an hour. No empanada for me 🙁 Thankfully, I still had my emergency chocolate – never be without emergency chocolate. Ever.
After eating my emergency chocolate I felt much better and had the energy to go and meet the paragliding group. The girl had messaged: come join us at Mana! But hadn’t said whether it was dinner or drinks or at what time. I decided to wait half an hour and be on “Colombian time” By the time I turned up, they had mostly finished dinner…Colombian time fail.
So then on to Tejo! We got in taxis and headed about 5mins out of the centre to a Tejo place. To me, Tejo is kind of like intense bocci: bunch of guys standing somewhere throwing a heavy metal ball as close as they can to an object in the ground a certain distance away. The intense part comes in with the gunpowder.
Rather than a sandpit, the metal disc/ball is thrown into a square of clay. In the centre of the clay there is a metal ring and on that metal ring you put one (or in our case, multiple) triangular packet(s) of gunpowder. This way, there is no disagreement if you hit the target or not because it explodes. Yep, it EXPLODES. I thought the game was dangerous enough just with the throwing of a heavy metal ball – I completely missed the clay on most throws.
Basic rules are that you all stand at one end, each taking turns to throw. Once someone hits the target, or once everyone has had a turn, you walk to the clay and work out who was closest. Hitting the target gets 2 points, landing the closest to the metal ring (without having hit the backboard) gets 1 point. Pick up your clay-covered ball and start throwing to the square at the other end. First to 11 points wins.
Me being me, didn’t want to get clay all over my hands so I never cleaned the ball and only ever touched it with one hand. The result: a metal ball covered in dried mud, potentially less aerodynamic than the rest – might have also caused my bad throws. On my very last throw, after a night of constantly missing the target (and at one point having my ball roll down the stairs at the edge of the room), I hit the packet and got a massive explosion! What a win for the girl with zero aim and throwing abilities. I was ecstatic!