One day I flew to Rio to write an article about a man who was going to jump off a cliff on a hang glider with a camera fixed to his helmet and who was going to send all the pictures to the his home page on the Web. Since I was writing about computers for a newspaper in São Paulo called Jornal da Tarde, I got the story and went to Rio.
When I got there, I went to the top of the hill and, looking down at the wonderful sight of the city of Rio, I decided that after the person I was writing about flew, I would jump off the hill too.
Give me the courage! - I worked like a madman that day getting everything ready for Marcelo Botelho's flight (the man I was writing about). Thank God everything went wrong! Marcelo kept on forgetting things and I was so busy helping him get everything together that I didn't have time to think about my own flight.
I put the flying suit on and spoke to Marcelo. Fit into the straps that hold me onto the hang glider and asked Marcelo a question... Even when he jumped off the hill, I was still talking to him on walkie-talkies and taking notes down for my article.
But, it was inevitable that my time come. When Botelho landed on the beach - after only six minutes of flight (he weighs 108 kilos and went down like a meteor) - I had nothing to do but get on the platform and prepare to jump.
It was only then that I realized what I was going to do. Too late...now there was no turning back - I had to have courage to take the adventure 'till the end. And I did...
It was late already, getting dark. I held my breath, ran as fast as I could, and didn't stop running until my feet were off the ground.
As I leeped off the ramp and plunged into the dark sky of Rio's night, leaving behind the sounds of people, the lights of houses below started moving uniformly, as if the world turned around me.
The hang glider took a few seconds to stop shaking and set to a fix route. In the beggining, it would bounce around and get pushed in many directions by the wind. When all things settled, the glider got onto a smooth path.
Only a few surprises. Some moments of reordering the route. The pilot seemed to let go of the triangular bar that governs the glider for the wind to set the hand glider into the correct path.
In the sky, you could only hear the wind in your ears and the sounds of automobile horns on the ground, miles away, fighting through the heavy traffic of Rio's streets during rush hours.
I felt as if the hand glider was a sailboat pushed around by the wind. It could go anywhere the great forces of nature sent it. The difference is that sailboats have the support of the sea beneath them, preventing them from going down, whereas a hand glider gets pushed literally in any direction.
Landing on the yellow sands of Rio's beaches was a relief, I must admit. It meant not only being back on the ground and safe, but also the end of the terrible cold that is felt while flying on a hand glider at night - even if it is in the city of Rio.
I am one of the founders of Yahoo!'s Discovery Travel Club. If you're interested in getting to know more about other countries and their cultures, click on http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/discoverytravel