Taking a Leap in Nepal

“When I tell you to walk, walk. When I tell you to run, run. Don’t sit down, and don’t lean forward or we won’t make it. Okay? This will be fun!”

I was hardly able to appreciate the view from one of Pokhara’s tallest peaks as I sat waiting for my turn to go paragliding. My friends were below me taking off with happy squeals while I fidgeted nervously, convincing myself I wasn’t going to die.

Paragliding is something I’ve always wanted to do, and Pokhara is one of the best places to do it. When it comes to adventure, I’m all over it in theory: skydiving, whitewater rafting, questionable meat from a cart on the side of the road in Belize…I hear about these things and say “YES! I am SO doing that one day!” But when the time comes, fears and doubts hit me hard and I can’t help but question if I should have sent my mom one last text while I had hotel wifi.

I pushed the thoughts of cords tangling and sudden winds out of my mind and took my steps to the runway zone. A tiny Nepalese man clipped himself to my back and asked me if I was nervous. I didn’t lie. His voice became low and soothing as he told me what we’d be doing. I tried to focus on his voice instead of what I was about to do, and before I knew it, he was telling me to walk. Then run. Then, all of a sudden…I was flying.

It was incredible. It was beautiful. It was quiet. It was the second most terrifying thing I had ever experienced in my life (the first being an emergency landing in a very tiny plane with very big turbulence). I loved it and hated it all at the same time. I was trying to play it cool so my pilot wouldn’t think I was a wimp, but my body kept betraying me and for some reason, high pitched “ooohh”s kept escaping my mouth. “You like it?” he asked me. “It’s incredibaaaaahhhhhhh” I squealed as we caught another thermal and went shooting up towards the clouds. The ride was an emotional roller coaster and I kept flopping between enjoying the view and trying not to lose my breakfast all over Nepal.

Due to my terror and my curvy body (made curvier by discovering bread pakoras in India and never wanting to be far from one), we didn’t go extremely high or do any acrobatics. I saw my friends twirling above me in the clouds and was content enough to keep my toes near the treetops and my heart below the mountain tops. Even still, the views were incredible; temples sparkled in the sun, mountains stood tall against strong winds, the lake was blue and inviting, and people went about their daily lives on tiny winding roads. I was awe-struck at just how incredible this tiny pocket of Nepal was…until another wind hit us and my eyes closed in fear.

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There were 39 photos taken of me in the air that day, and of that 39, 36 are of me with a pained look on my face that can only be described as horror/awe/nausea/excitement. I wish I had more happy photos from the flight because I really did have a good time, but I guess my expressive face just wasn’t on board.

Am I glad I went paragliding in Nepal? Yes. Would I rush to do it again? Maybe not. Have I already made one of the three smiling photos my Facebook profile pic? You bet your butt I have. I deserve a few likes after putting myself through that.

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