After we were good and buzzed and had taken a delightful stroll through the vineyard, half of us chose to head back. The price of a taxi was ridiculous so we opted for the colectivo (Argentina's name for the bus system). Unfortunately, the colectivo only takes monedas (coins) or a magnetic fare card which we didn't have and are only available for purchase in downtown Mendoza, which was our final destination. We ended up going to a nearby kiosk/grocery store and begging for coins. After everyone in the store, workers and customers, had emptied out their pockets, we had just enough for our journey back to the centro (center of town).
Things to note: a) my ridiculous amount of excitement in this photo and b) while getting to the vineyard took about 25 minutes, the bus trip back was an hour and a half. O well, at least the views were nice.
After going out the night before, sleeping less than four hours and getting up early to check out of the hostel, what, you may ask, had we planned for the day? Paragliding! We signed up to do it the day before but after a night of partying and a lack of the sleeping, you'd think I'd be less than pumped. But, aside from a few nerves, I was ready and willing! A year ago, I would have never had the guts or the confidence in myself to do this but I found myself jumping at the chance!
We were picked up outside the hostel by a guy in a dusty jeep and drove about 20 minutes outside the city into the hills of the Andes. On the way there, our instructor asked us if we were nervous; when we shakily replied yes, he said not to worry, only about half the people who paraglide vomit. But don't worry he said, "Relajense y si se sienten enfermas, pueden vomitar tranquilmente" (Relax! and if you guys feel sick, you can vomit tranquilly/in a relaxed state). I put my life in this man's hands.
But hey, sometimes you've got to take risks in life. And I'd like to say, although I did feel a bit sick during the 30 minute ride, it was well worth it!
My friend Naomi and I were the last to go. After subiendo el cerro (driving up the hill) on a "road" which really was the equivalent texture of the rest of the mountain, we arrived at the top. I got strapped into my gear and to my instructor and the assistant asked me "Are you ready to run?" Before I could answer, he pulled on my jump suit and my instructor and I ran off the mountain and flew into the air. Honestly, it was just like a dream, nothing beneath my feet and soaring above the mountains with ease. Although we were blowing about in the wind, for the most part it felt like we were still, as though I were seated in a porch swing and enjoying the view.
Because we were the last to go, we were in the air right when the sun began to set. Well worth the wait!
We headed back on bus that night and upon arriving at my house in Santiago at about 6:30am, I promptly slept for 8 more hours, waking up just in time for lunch!
Shout out goes to Mary Vasquez, after this experience I just might be ready for sky diving with you after your graduation! Well, falling from the sky is a bit different than swinging about, so perhaps a bit more convincing will be necessary.
P.S. As I write this, they are beginning the rescue of the 33 miners in Copiapo. It'll be about an hour for each one so they'll be working all day tomorrow and won't finish until Thursday morning. Keep them in your thoughts!