Saturday, August 4, 2012

Flying and Crying

I have not kept up with updates so now I’ll have to hop around a bit (and out of order!)

We were lucky enough to spend a lot of time on the Lycian Way although thankfully not hiking it as originally planned. First we went to Fethiye and spent time exploring the city, marina and making friends. Many of the friends we made were met on the bus ride from Pamukkale (more on that later!) Fethiye is home to spectacular rock tombs built into the side of the mountain. It’s unreal to think that thousands of years ago without today's tools, people were able to create building inside of cliff sides. The following day, and thanks to Greg's expert negotiating skills, we opted to take a 12 Island Tour (for 1/2 the cost) with our new friends from the bus and hostel, 3 Korean girls and 1 South African bra. Although I think we saw more like 6 islands it was an ideal day. We swam in the cool blue waters, hiked on uninhabited islands and took turns jumping off the top of the boat when docked. One of the girls, who admittedly didn't know how to swim, bravely climbed to the top of the boat where the platform was and sweaty hands holding, we jumped into the water below that seemed much farther away when looking down. Once back on shore the girls and I contemplated visiting neighboring Oludeniz famous for their Paragliding. With nervous smiles we agreed to give it a try. The guys, no nerves at all, agreed.

FLYING: Although I was excited and eager to take the leap and paraglide nerves were mounting as we waited over 4 hours safely on the ground in Oludeniz. Finally our bus to take us to the top of the mountain arrived. Unfortunately, it didn't help. Our driver, who either had too much Raki or was sensitive to high altitude and lacked sufficient oxygen to the brain, drove like a complete maniac. Driving entirely too fast with no guard rails on a gravel one-lane road, I tried to ignore the feeling of the back tires loosing all grip. As a whole we asked him to slow down...apparently a challenge to go faster. I was ironically so thankful to reach the top I could hardly wait to jump off the cliff. I met my "pilot" Atilla who gave me the instructions to walk when he says walk and run when he says run. The whole harness process taking less than 5 minutes, it wasn't long until he said it...RUN! At that we were gliding through the air with breathtaking scenery below us. It was INCREDIBLE! The beaches, the oceans, the mountains, all from a bird's eye view. It was picture perfect.
CRYING: In fact it was so picture perfect that I quickly grabbed for my camera to take a was not there. The rush of adrenaline mixed with the disappointment of losing all my pictures from the last 2 months (I tried to back my camera up in Zanzibar but it didn't work) was a polar opposite mix of emotions. I laughed, I held back tears (at least until we landed) and I did my best to enjoy the rest of the descent. Atilla made this quite easy as we did air acrobatics and spun until the skin on my cheeks shook and my head couldn't move from the force.

Despite our reckless driver and losing my camera, Paragliding was well worth it! The scenery of soft blue, white and green is an image I won't forget. The feeling of floating through the air and then later spinning through it is something I will always remember!

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