Monday, April 28, 2008
As I´ve told so many of you any various times throughout my life, my one wish of all time, hands down, without a doubt, would be to be able to fly like Peter Pan. Yes, I realize that sounds cheesy, but whatever, get off me, that´s how it is, I WANNA FLY PEOPLE!!!! I´m here to tell you that this weekend, it went down, straight up “pixy dust in the middle of Neverland” style. Me and some of the crew headed off to a place called “Cuchi Corral” (I know, what a name right, :) in La Cumbre. After a 15 minute drive down a mountain road we end up on the top of a mountain where it´s as though the top has been cut off. There were a good handful of folks, not to many though, just enough to give the atmosphere that background action you need, and wild jokers flying around with parachutes all over the place. This sport is called paragliding, and no I´m not talking about the parasailing you do down in Panama City on Spring Break with the ole boys, PARAGLIDING, quite an upgrade from “parasailing” in my opinion. It cost me about 60 bucks for a 30 minute flight and Hallelujah!!!, every last bloody cent was worth it. Here´s how is went down: Toti, my guide in the most recent pictures I sent ya´ll, strapped me up, attached himself to my back (cause you know there´s no way in Hades I was gonna try something like this the first time bymyself), and we began to wait. Here I am chillin on the side of a mountain about 15 feet from the Cliffside sweating like a joker as anticipation about blew me up. As so as the right amount of wind hit, Toti launched our shoot, we start running toward the cliff and proceed to jump off the side “acid trip suicide” style and BOOM!!! The sensation of standing on the ground and sensation of gravity is gone. People, this has made it into one of my Top Five greatest experiences of MY LIFE!!!, true story. Because I´m out in front of Toti and he´s driving, I have a view absent of cables for 200 degrees. I´m literally flying through the middle of the sky, and the only present sound is the wind blowing. The only thing I was missing was the green hat with the feather and set of green tights and I would have been the real deal Pan. We´re zooming through the mountains, at times less than 20 feet from the mountain side, while other moments we approach some overhang and I feel like the wreck in the sky is gonna take place, but Toti works his pilot magic and we zip up real quick like “Airwolf” (reference for you old schoolers) and pass over the overhang smooth as can be. This was crazy, at one point, no more than 10 feet away these two Condors decided to join us. Make note, I´m now not only flying through the sky but hanging out with two Condors as if we´re about to have mid air tea time, absolutely ridiculous. I could continue to elaborate on the details of this Rocketeer-esque journey but I have class, the good news is I made a couple videos of the experience I´ll share with ya´ll upon my return. Much love to my people, I´m giving another shout out the most recent comments, I LOVE EM!!!! AND LOVE ALL OF YA´LL EVEN MORE. I´m outta here!!!!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Tents were already setup, lanterns burning so each person was able to mix just the right amount of Fernet and Coke for the perfect late night Rally beverage while the fire had settled to a mound of hot embers that allowed the asado and vegetables to cook nice and slow. Praise God for Argentina and its abundance of beautiful asado. We were a group of about fifteen, as always with this crowd, while two other crews camped close to us combined to be another fifteen. As the evening progressed, the cups of liquid courage turned three distinct groups of ole boys into one giant social circus. The bullcrapping was something serious and here I am the lone white boy, doing everything in my power to follow the conversations and at lightning fast questions in another language. Finally, one of the guys from the other group brought out the guitar and proceeded to play this “classic” style progession that many boys from the country here play. The beautiful part about this, and extremely impressive aspect, is that on top of these two chords, two other jokers start taking turns improvising in a story telling style way that I´ve never seen. It was a mixture of spoken word with a distinct vocal tone and flow. For me it was very difficult to follow the themes, but one did not need to understand the language to appreciate the rhythm and fluidity of their phrases. I had played for crew a couple weekends back at the Papi´s country getaway, so as the improve action came to a close I was haggled intensely to play something, oh man, this is where it got ridiculous. I played for a good bit, sang a little, and received such encouraging support and feedback I didn’t wanna stop. Another guy from the other group, I forget his name, step in and began playing all sorts of popular songs we all know from the states, including other obscure Radiohead tracks that I adore. I have to say the ole boy was a good player. Nonetheless, me being the only native English speaker and musician, I was elected to sing. Ya´ll, I have never sung so much in my life!!!! This wildness went on until almost daylight. The following morning my throat and voice hurt so bad it was hard to speak. Me and Tommy slept in the car for about three hours and around 9:15 we got ready for the first car to pass. The atmosphere is so tranquil at first, with all the fans piled up on either side of the road, waitng for those 10 seconds of glory and madness when the first car passes. You begin to hear that faint chopping noise in the background from the helicopters filming the lead car combined with spurts here and there from the “bumblebee on crack” exhaust. Suddenly out of nowhere, comes this two door couple barreling over the hill as if he´s trying to launch himself to the moon. This frontman, and winner of the race, Sebastian Loeb from France, passes through an old stone wall gate right in front of our campsite like a bullet through the end of a sniper rifle. There´s dirt and gravel streams flying through the air creating a shower of stone and earth. The following gate, just barely bigger than the width of the car, was rather close, and at such a speed, you´re thinking he´s gonna crash and blow this little car all to Hades at any minute, but somehow, the four wheels just stick to the dirt and he squeezes through the next gate flawlessly as his door handle licks the rock of the left side pillar. You wouldn´t think that so much adrenaline would be drawn out of you in such a short period, but trust me, you are doped up something serious and wait anxiously for the next dirt storm and threading of the four wheel needle. As soon as you hear that faint buzz in the background, senses heighten, muscles clench, and seconds turn into minutes as you tune in for that next overload of endorphins. Man I wish we had the Rally back home!!!!
At this point, as the adventurous weekends seem to integrate themselves as a part of daily life, I´m realizing that my leisure time and recreational experiences are comparable to the hosts on cable T.V. Yeah, I´m that frickin American guy on the Travel Channel that gets all caught up in the middle of some culture far away, and gets his mind blown by the hour as the viewers at home wonder, "geez, that lucky son of a gun....and this guy is getting paid on top of that!!!" Unfortunatley, I´m not getting paid....yet,....but with all these novel worthy, unforgettable moments, a dollar don´t mean squat, period. Alright, enough gloating about "The Goodness," let´s get some meat on the table here!!! Unfortunatley we don´t have a "Rally" in the States, some of you may have seen it on ESPN Extreme or something of that nature, but Córdoba for dang sure does!!! It happens to be a host to one of the circuits throughout the worldwide competition. This "Rally" is essentially a race that takes place in the middle of the mountains, desert, jungle, or any other "middle of nowhere" style atmosphere, that incorpates high performance, b-a cars that haul nuts down dirt roads through a combination of obstacles and turns that would seem to create a "slow" pace for the drivers. Well, it is quite the opposite my friends. These boys, known as pilots here, have no doubt, lost their minds years ago. You would not believe the speed that these automobiles travel on these, again I stress, DIRT ROADS. In order to remain so calm and navigate these beast machines with such accuracy and precision at such a pace, they all must have some genetic defect and lack the ability to produce adrenaline, therefore making a trip at 120 miles an hour on a strip of raw dirt intended for a horse and buggy feel like eating a bowl of Cheerios on a Wednesday morning. The daily competitions last about 3 hours a day, a grueling length in my opinion to maintain such speeds, and a few days from city to city. I don´t recall what the location was before Córdoba but the next stop is Mexico. My crew and I arrived late Friday night to a random spot about 3o feet off to the right of a portion of the track. This atmosphere was so wild. The law here in Córdoba states that 30 meters on both sides of the road belongs to the government making it possible for anybody and everybody to camp wherever you feel like, for free!!! Of course some of the crew had already setup shop earlier that afternoon, so at the point we arrived, the action was already taking place at full speed. (I´m posting this now so I don´t lose any information, but no worries, parting is coming right behind it. Hold strong!)