Paragliding...What Really Happens in the Air
I almost threw up. I should've, actually, judging from Julia's and Tammie's shocked faces once I was unhooked from my paraglider.
"You don't look too good..." Julia's worried face peered at my white lips.
"Are you OK?" Tammie quizzically studied me, inching closer but staying out of puking range.
No, I wasn't. The first 7 minutes of my flight had been awesome - I couldn't stop laughing and shrieking. Then, my pilot started "thermaling," which I understood as riding a wind current. Translation? Making large circles in the air so that slowly, unsuspectingly, your stomach pushes whatever breakfast you had up.
Despite the increasing urge to throw up, I was still enjoying my first (and probably last) paragliding experience, more so because I was coaxing myself that it would be ridiculous to pay $85 for a 30-minute tandem flight and not at least pretend to have fun. But over the next 15 minutes, my stomach became uneasy, and the views over Pokhara more and more boring. I kept myself distracted from the growing queasiness by asking my pilot mundane questions such as "Where did you learn to paraglide? Why do you love it? Where's the best pizza in Pokhara? Is that Annapurna I or Annapurna South?"
Since he was behind me guiding the glider, he couldn't see the grimaces on my face as I tried to ignore that awful feeling you get before you puke. He probably guessed I was having a great time in the air, because he then pointed below us at a pilot doing acrobatics just before landing. I saw Julia's glider, and her pilot was performing similar tricks to a lesser degree.
"You wanna try it?" he asked enthusiastically, and I knew from his tone that spinning acrobatics is the highlight to any paragliding flight.
No! is what I should've shouted, but that horrible phrase "Gotta get your money's worth" rang through mind. $85? I'd better get something other than spinning slow circles over Pokhara!
"Sure." And, without hesitation, he taught me how to rock in my seat so that I could spiral - quickly - down towards the lake. Acrobatics and tricks through the air are supposed to be thrilling, but I thoroughly hated it. My stomach churned even more, my throat grew dry, I felt like puking, and I couldn't even open my eyes because I was so dizzy.
The only positive thing about acrobatics is that we spun to home-sweet-Earth faster than our previous snail's pace. Once we landed, I unhooked my harness from the glider and stumbled over to Julia and Tammie. Their reactions to my white face and colorless lips were pitying, and Julia later told me that I'd never looked so horrible. We all had varying experiences; Julia loved it and was screaming and laughing the whole flight, I survived, but landed with a headache and an unsettled stomach, and Tammie threw up mid-flight (let's hope on crops and not on an unsuspecting Nepali farmer).
Would I do it again? Not unless I
a. take motion-sickness pills beforehand,
b. am flying over views at least as stunning as the Himalayas,
c. have a sexy pilot with a yellow paraglider, and
d. win a free flight.