Having learnt all there was to learn from the capital city, we headed south to La Cumbrecita, a pedestrian-only village (the bus drops you off in a parking lot and you cross a bridge on foot to get into town) founded by the survivors of a German shipwreck of the Graf Spee (okay, I guess the history lessons weren’t completely over, though how a bunch of shipwreck survivors made it all the way to the dead center of the country was never clearly explained).
The town is hilariously Deutsch in everything from its alpine-style houses to its abundance of chocolate shops. We found the one campsite in town (which happened to be the most visually stunning we’d encountered thus far, despite the wild horses which seemed inordinately interested in our tent) and spent the next the next couple days eating goulash and knackwürst and zip-lining across magnificent waterfalls at the “Alpine* Adventure Park” with our leiderhosen-clad guides. A thoroughly good time was had by all. *Note on just how German this town is… Did anyone else notice that we’re in the Andes?
Our last stop in Córdoba was a town called La Cumbre, where we spent a couple lazy days enjoying the much-awaited break in humidity (autumn has finally reached the southern hemisphere!!!) and drinking mate with Martín, the owner of the campsite.
Our last day there, however, we made up for our laziness by throwing ourselves off a cliff while strapped to burly Hispanic men and large sheets of silk: aka paragliding!
Fechu, our paragliding professional, picked us up at our campsite and drove us to the top of a mountain, where we stood on the edge and stared in awe at the minuscule rivers in the valley below, trying to fathom our descent. As we stood patiently, being strapped into innumerable harnesses, Pablo, another paraglider, asked Josh to move forward a bit. Then to take a few more steps forward…
All I heard next was my husband yelling, “Wait – we’re going?!!” and suddenly there they went, off the edge of the cliff and disappearing around the mountain.
As I debated whether or not I should let someone know that Josh and Pablo had just vanished, Fechu called another guy over to “hold me down.” As they lifted up the parachute, someone kept hold of my harness and yanked me firmly downwards, to keep me from floating prematurely away! Suddenly it was my turn to be told to “Run – you need to run forward now!”
“Towards the edge?!” I shrieked.
So I ran (as fast as one can run when strapped to both a brawny Argentine as well as a parachute)… but suddenly, my feet weren’t touching the ground anymore; instead, they were swinging freely as the wind whooshed beneath them. Every dream I’ve ever had of flying was realized in that glorious half-hour of circling thousands of meters above the earth. With nothing touching me but the seat of the harness, the sun on my face, and the breeze around my legs, I felt more peaceful – and more invigorated! – than I could ever have imagined.
After a few minutes of flying, I guess my silence worried Fechu, since he called, “Te gusta?”
(Do you like it?)
“Si, me encanta,” I responded, amazed he could think any less, “pero no tengo palabras!”
(I love it, but I just don’t have the words for it!)
The entire time in the air, I had two thoughts:
1. This is incredible.
2. Mom really wouldn’t be happy about this.
The landing worried me: I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories of knee-wrecking impacts and having to run your feet off. But as the ground started to loom closer, Fechu maneuvered it so that we landed softly on the ground, with as much impact as sitting down on a chair. The only mishap? We landed in a horse pasture, and both Josh and I landed right in poop.
Afterwards, we were waiting for a ride back down the mountain when they asked us if we’d like to go see the nearby Río Pinto. We readily agreed, and got packed into a truck with four Argentines who had also just been paragliding. When we were dropped off at the river, we discovered that our ride back to town wasn’t leaving for five hours, so we were stuck here in the middle of nowhere with four strangers.
Amazingly, the strangers turned out to be some of the funniest and kindest people, four friends reunited for a week-long vacation who were happy to share their time together with us. After lunching together on asado, we found a gorgeous swimming hole and spent all afternoon relaxing, getting driven back to town in time to catch the most amazing sunset over the mountains.
Yanina, Seba, Victoria y Leo: ¡Muchísimas gracias por un día inolvidable! 🙂