Madeira, island of dreams, part 2. – fly high
(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)
Flying to the island of Madeira is a quite unique experience, and not just because you have to cross half of the Atlantic ocean, but also because the airport is a bit tricky. I really don’t want to spoil it, so I just tell you, it was necessary to build pillars in order to make the runway a bit longer, as on this volcanic island you hardly find a flat place bigger than a tissue. For those who haven’t been here, I’d suggest with a huge virtual wink to choose their plane seat on the right-hand side and keep the eyes wide open.
But there is something even better than flying to Madeira: flying on Madeira.
Life showed me on my third day spent on the island that Madeira is a paradise for paragliders, which I didn’t know anything about before, even though I am a beginner in paragliding. OK, I didn’t search for it explicitly, but on the other hand, noone told me about it, so 1:1. I made friends with a Polish-German couple in the guesthouse where I worked, and somehow we started to talk about flying and they told me about the hike the day before with a paraglider guy who, on the top of all, lives in the exact same village as us.
Wooo-hoo, I thought raising my right eyebrow, strictly just one, like usually when something is way too suspicious or way too good to be true. As I didn’t have my days off in work, and we did other activities, somehow I forgot about this information, even though I got the contact of the guy as well.
After a while we were talking about paragliding with the owner of the guesthouse, and as now you can guess, yes, she told me that she also had a paraglider friend, living in the neighbouring village and having a private take-off as well, so if I wanted she could contact him.
You know, at this point it becomes pretty much obvious that you have to deal with flying on this island, you simply can’t deny this much of coincidences. The only open question was which option to choose.
It wasn’t a concious decision, actually, we were sitting outside by our afternoon coffees and it came to my mind that next day was my day off, so we made a phone call to the second guy. This is how ‘coincidences’ continued, there was a paraglider for rent in my size and we had nice weather on my day off to have a good flight.
From this point things accelerated and apart from working in the guesthouse, the last two weeks of my Madeiran stay I spent on the take-off place, enjoying every single moment connected with flying and in the excellent company of pilots of all nations. I have to tell you, paragliders are quite unique types, we have all different personalities, but agree on one thing for sure: we completely and definitely love freedom.
When your legs are in the air, you totally forget about anything else. You live in the moment, it is just you and your paraglider, you see maps below you, perspective is unusual and to be discovered, you feel endless excitement and total tranquility in the same time. Something very hard to describe.
You are staring at a falcon making circles below you, at the sun shining through the paragliders of others, sunset lights paint the landscape incredibly green, people on the streets are shrinking to the size of ants, you are amazed by the coastline and the mountains of the island and just incapable to believe this is true.
Even though this is one of the truest, most honest and most amazing experience of yours.
Hereby I have to admit that I became a little rabbit who is afraid of everything and didn’t fly on my own, I took tandem flights. Take-off seemed OK, but landing is a small pebbled beach stuck between a high wall of mountains and the ocean, and I felt this needs a bit more experience then I had. This island is not only tricky for airplanes. And I still believe, the island is waiting for me until I learn a bit more of paragliding.
Well, fun here usually doesn’t end with flying, after sunset pilots gather and of course, make a spontaneous dinner together. It turns out that we have an Italian guy who cooks really well and happens to have a half meter long tuna slice on him. Somebody makes a nice salad as a side dish, or baked potato with rosemary and sea salt, so I soon realize I have to enter this competition with some performance too. So I choose to show how to diminish everything from a place in a surprisingly short time and win first price. OK, after all this I more than gladly wash the plates too.
So, if you are planning to come to Madeira and have already seen a paraglider from close, don’t hesitate to pack your equipment, because this island is really an incredible place for flying. And in case you haven’t try it, but eager to taste the experience of total freedom, just keep in mind that there is few more beautiful places for a long-resonating tandem flight.
Pictures taken at and around the take-off place of Madeira Paragliding in Arco da Calheta. Thanks again for the beautiful memories!