November 2004. After a 19 hour flight we finally arrive in Rio. An eclectic group of 15 students ready for 2 weeks of cultural and political emersion in the land of samba. 

Friday Flashback

In my dreams of Rio de Janeiro, I envisioned the sun shining, a hammock between two palm trees, with me sipping delicately on my coconut.

*screeching record*

The reality: Rain. Rain. Rain. Even the palm trees look sad. The view of the favelas (shanty towns) on the side of the road don’t make it any prettier.

I guess I’m a novice at this mafesting your dreams thing.

But, luckily, by day 3: Hallelujah. The sun is shining and my plans for Rio just got more interesting.

Delta Flying. Ahhh

It’s evening and we are sitting in the hostel, drinking some Caipi’s (Caipirinhas for the uninitiated). We’re chilling after a long day of meetings with goverment bodies and NGO’s.

All of a sudden, someone has this crazy plan of going Delta Flying the next day. I’m thinking to myself, hell-to-the-NO, but I must have had some out-of-body experience, because, before I know it, I have said yes to this madness. What?! I feel like I did something rash right there.

I’m not an adrenaline junky, but at the same time, I know that this is the chance of a lifetime. So I tune out Fear’s apprehensive chattering in my mind and, the next day, about $150 bucks lighter, I’m in the car towards the mountains. *gulp* I was up the whole night fighting my nerves and reserves. But now it’s go-time.

I’m gonna die. If not when delta flying, then from this dude who is totally overdoin’ it on the speed limit. Despite my near death experience in the car, we reach the platform at 1500m and I’m totally calm and cool – like that feeling you get in the silence before the storm hits.

The view over the surrounding national park is unbelievable. But looking over that edge ‘s kinda too much and the adrenaline starts racing through my body again. Then the instructor starts instructing and I break out in sweat.

“Do NOT – whatever you do – do not stop running”

‘Cause that will mean crash boom splat against the mountain side.

All right. I can do that. I think. Let’s go. 1. 2. 3. Run, run, run – don’t stop, I don’t want to crash –waahhhhhhh — and flwam I’m riding a gust of wind and we’re off.

This is superkalifragalistic… – sorry Mary P. – fanFREAKINGtastic.

Rio de Janeiro is at my feet

I can see the whole valley fold out before me. There’s Sugar Loaf. Hundreds of blue pools rush below me. The city is literally at my feet. There it is Corcovado and Cristo Redentor. Jesus. For a minute I feel what he must feel looking over the city from his perch every single day.


These are my 15 minutes of fame. Because that’s all it takes before my feet touch the ground.

Descent initiated. Landing imminent. What do I do? I give my left leg to the instructor. Another gust and perfect score!

What a rush. Can I go again?! Nope. Bummer, my budget won’t allow it. Instead I opt for a cooling dip in the ocean.

Once in a lifetime opportunities, don’t let them pass you by.

This is but one  adventure I experienced in Brazil starting from 2004 onwards and I hope to experience many more.

Picture by: Carlos Ortega (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The Mangrove Concept