Surely the most welcoming sight after 4 long days of walking was the mini-bus that brought the 9 of us to Pokhara Eco Resort. Bidding farewell to our 3 porters was a difficult thing to do. I got emotional and I tried hard to hide it. I didn’t really chat with the guys but I was touched by the way they cared for my sons, Robin who had been sick for a few days and the attention they gave to my little Clement. The gratuity was certainly not enough to express my gratitude. The porters worked incredibly hard for not much money by our standard. My family consider ourselves to have entered the ranks of adventure travelers, going out of comfort zone and breaking beyond the boundaries. Out in nature for several days, what we did was nothing short of an adventure. But we know that without the support of the porters, it was not possible to complete the trek.
In Pokhara, there was no reason to rush and plenty of incentives to linger. We kept to a leisurely schedule: long, lazy breakfasts, lunches and dinner and thought that adventure was over. No, it wasn’t over. After a visit to the Japanese stupa one morning, Dominique was interested in doing paragliding when he saw people did that at the hill some distance away. Weather did not agree with us. Paragliding booked for afternoon was cancelled because of bad weather. The wind conditions have to be spot on. Dominique was visibly upset. I hated to see my son wallowed in regret yet there wasn’t much we could do.
When I told our trekking guide, Arjun about Dominique’s disappointment, I couldn’t believe my ears when Arjun said we could stay one extra day in Pokhara, change our itinerary at no additional cost. We were supposed to leave Pokhara the next day. One extra night in Pokhara means one more day Arjun had to be away from his Kathmandu home. How could we hold him back for our selfish needs? Arjun shouldn’t be the one to compromise. It’s not right. But Arjun reassured us that it was alright and asked us to keep our fingers crossed for sunshine the next day while he hastily made arrangement of the reschedule.
The next day, it was an overcast morning and the sun was behind thick clouds. The morning was relentlessly rainy. We had breakfast with Arjun and was prepared for more disappointment. By noon, rain stopped and my family went out for lunch. By then, Dominique and I had not much expectation of paragliding. While my family waited for food to be served at the Korean restaurant, Arjun called. He apologetically asked both of us to get back to hotel in 10 minutes. Without further ado, both of us hurried back.
We came to Everest Paragliding to register, signed indemnity form and made payment. 30 minutes of paragliding costs Rs8500 (equivalent USD87), another Rs1700 (equivalent USD27) for a CD with photos and a video. Comparing with the paragliding my husband did in New Zealand seven years back, it was just 50% of the price. It’s a steal!
We hopped on the truck loaded with parachutes and moved on to a hill. The sky was clear and it was sunny. Weather here could be hard to predict. Everest Paragliding’s boss is a European. He assigned Dipak to take care of me.
As the parachute took off, I quickly became immersed in the unfamiliar, weightless feeling of being separated from the earth. It was exhilarating and meditative at the same time. Dipak and I rose higher and higher above the hill in the powerful current of the wind, just like an eagle soar silently in the sky.
Dipak did a couple of acrobatic manoeuvres, swung widely from side to side in huge arcs, like an amusement park ride. My heart felt like hanging in the air for a few seconds. The next stunt sent us spiraling downwards in a disorientating dive. I could see the earth spinning furiously below me. Dipak asked me whether I felt nauseous. “No”, I replied. He said I was strong. Apparently, some people would feel sick but I think it was crazy fun! The mountains were stunning and the lake was so incredibly green and clear. Looping and spiraling towards Phewa Lake, we landed safely.
Dipak thought I did not enjoy, as I was very quiet throughout. I may look cool and collected, the type of person that don’t scream when on roller coaster. Inside me was a mixed feeling of thrill and peace.
Travel entails uncertainty. Paragliding was something Dominique and I are excited about. Did we achieve our goal? Well, in some ways, yes, but there’s no set plan, and the destination didn’t matter as much as the process, the journey. The spontaneity was nice and everything happened so quickly. In fact, the adrenaline rush we experienced, running from the restaurant to hotel then to paragliding was surprisingly overpowers paragliding itself.
Opportunity doesn’t knock twice. I embrace the inner adrenaline junkie in me. Say yes to something risky. Never let obstacle stand in the way because you could be missing out on the most amazing experiences life has to offer. Instead of speeding through the days, slow down and savor every moment. Go with the flow. Not every route is smooth, and not every connection is on schedule. Don’t despair if your plans fall to pieces; be fluid, and welcome the possibilities a detour may hold.
Although it’s easy to forget, choosing to be grateful has helped me through a lot of difficult travel situations. Arjun, if you are reading this, thank you and your company Earthbound Expeditions for making things happen – the fabulous trip, the reschedule and the money you lent to me and Dominique. We did not miss anything – the white-water rafting at Trisuli River, Chitwan jungle adventure after this. It was wonderful experience we will never forget.