Each day our students will blog about some of their experiences on the Brazil Travel Course.  Our third entry for Sunday, 1/22 comes from Jess MacMillan.

hang gliding view in Brazil

Sunday here in Rio turned out to be a sunny and clear day with unlimited possibilities to take in the beauty of the city.  One way to get a bird’s eye view and enjoy a rare perspective of the city and beaches is to go to Pedra Bonita, and paraglide or hang-glide off of the 510m giant granite mountain. The flights depend on the weather and the wind conditions, but it is unavailable only a few days out of the month, and flights take place as usual on most days.

The sensation is amazing.  The sound of only air slipping off your sail is like silence, and in flight a man’s dream of flying like a bird comes true.  The cost is steep (about $210, with video), but because it will be a once in a life time experience, it is well worth expense.  The pilots are experienced and friendly.  Most having been flying for 10 years or more, and with a quick wave of the hand and a laugh, they quickly allay the fears of the risk ahead.  Once the initial take off is done, it is nothing but smooth sailing down to the beach.

(photo courtesy of Joe Melican)

The tourist experience is smooth and enjoyable; with only a closer look at the business model of the operation, one can see its resemblances to that of Brazil as a nation.  The operation of the service is very status orientated.  The owners of the sails fall into a very small and privileged class that actually have the capitol to afford the equipment.  The assisting help, the ones who “sherpa” the gliders from the cars to the launch pad, and then from the landing zone back to the cars, make an ok living, but will probably never be able to afford to pay for a trip to sail the sky on their own.

(photo courtesy of Joe Melican)

Sunday also offers a Hippie Fair, on the Square General Osório in Ipanema. It starts around 10am and goes on until the early evening. There you can find art, jewelry, shirts, bags, furniture, hammocks, food, and much more.  It is a nice inexpensive and enjoyable approach to getting your Rio De Janeiro memorabilia taken care of.

– Jess