Paragliding in Venezuela - My Family Travels

A Bird Flying High Something didn’t seem right. I had just woken up, probably because of the gas fumes wafting through air. I had my head pressed against the chilly glass window of a junky old van.


The shadow of a large mountain sprawled across my face and the dirty seat I sat on. The mountain sneered at us, laughing at our foolish attempt to drive up its steep face. In the background, the jumbled up sound of the latest Latin pop star played.

My instincts screamed ‘You’ve been kidnapped!’ Panicked, I gazed out of the window only to see the Venezuelan scenery flashing past the van. It slowly came back to me. I rode along the treacherous s-curve roads, not to be killed, but to go paragliding with my family and friends! The journey seemed to take forever.

Time passed with all the speed of a slow-moving turtle. My silent companions– Pedro, my dad, our friend Skye, and my brother–did little to help ease the boredom of driving up dizzying roads. However, my dad did make me laugh with his endless need to video every second of the journey.

He shot some action-packed footage of the ominous mountain, of Pedro rambling in Spanish on his cell phone while trying to steer the rust-bucket van, and of Tony and I in the back, sitting half asleep. He perched in the front seat, twisting and turning every which way to make sure he captured it all. Finally, he filmed the epic view of our final destination as we pulled over that last ridge; the tall, golden grass rippling across the small plateau we sat upon, the gilded mountains towering all around us, their faces covered with rain forests, the small foothills far below blanketed by a green patchwork of local farms, and the city of Merida tucked away between the valleys of the Andes.

I stepped out and felt the rush of wind on my face, whipping my hair around and making my windbreaker billow behind me. I strolled across the tall grass to the edge of the cliff and looked down below. A river wound itself through a wide valley between two mountains, glinting gold in the sun.

Scrubby bushes dotted the steep drop off below me. On the plateau, the gliders swallowed the wind in their large sails, rocketing up from the ground every now and then, tricking the pilots into thinking they would fly away. They looked like slices of the rainbow lying on the ground, stretched out in graceful arcs for all to see while the wind crackled through the fabric.

In the background, the Andes loomed towards the sky, watching with an ancient wisdom as the wind released a rusty red glider from its grasp, allowing it to float to the ground with a soft thump. ‘Abbey! Let’s go! We’re waiting!’ I spun around. Pedro stood pointing to a large purple sail, intending to strap me to it.

I ran over, weaving between the other gliders towards the experienced pilot standing with Pedro. We buckled our straps and took a running start towards the cliff. The rocks slipped under our feet, the wind tossed us about, and the butterflies raged in my stomach as a powerful whoosh of wind picked us up like a blade of grass. We climbed higher and higher, my butterflies dying with every foot we gained. Soon, I could look those lofty mountains in the eyes. They no longer loomed over me; I loomed over them. Far below, the river made a dash to the ocean, swishing its way to freedom through the grassy valley. Tranquility flowed through me as my feet dangled above its glinting waters and the quilted foothills that rested below the soaring Andes. I could feel the pilot sitting behind me, steering the sail above us, but I flew in my own world, a place where the possibilities never ended and peace flowed freely.

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