First Flight, GV.

I’m in Governador Valadares, Brasil, staying at Hotel Everest in the center of town. It’s only a couple blocks from the LZ. $25/night.

Today we’re going to fly. I’m still a little nervous about going up. Although, we’re going to fly safely and sanely, and I am going to put a lot of effort into a safe launch and landing. I slept well last night and didn’t have too many cocktails at the bar. 

 Stay out of power lines. Stay out of the water. Stay away from the rock. There are good, large LZ’s everywhere. It’s just staying out of the bad ones that is important. And not crashing in the good ones.

GV is small. It is dominated by the giant rock face that is launch for the crowd of paraglider and hang glider pilots that make their way to this haven of XC flight. I am the only female pilot that I have seen here yet. 
There are few Americans. 

I’ve noticed a couple of things about here. The two biggest to me are, firstly, the way these women dress up for everyday is amazing.. Heels, tight pants, make up, hair did.
Secondly, I haven’t seen a dog on a leash yet…. Plenty of dogs..There’s a few other things, but I’ll get to them later.

The thing that is trying to dominate me right now, is fear. I’m uncomfortable about getting in the air again after my wreck.  I have to try all the little tricks I’ve learned over the years. I struggle to keep the negative thoughts from happening..  I buy some gum… stick two pieces in my mouth…. chew it up for a while. It seems to quiet the racket in my head. I set up my equipment robot like. Open bag. Remove flight deck, remove folded wing. Turn harness around. Each step is manifesting in my brain like an itemized list. I focus on each one. Task complete. I check each line. I check and recheck that I am clipped in properly. Helmet. Radio. I’m ready to launch. we wait. It seems like forever but the right moment never really arrives. Finally, rain on the horizon headed our way is the catalyst that gets us moving. We decide to launch before we get trapped at the top.

It’s light wind getting off the mountain but, that’s what I’m good at. So I take off. The air is a little chunky but has some nice lift and I finally get a piece going up….  Fast. This is probably not the best idea because the rain clouds are getting much closer. 

It’s fine though, I find an area of sink and spiral down through it. I’m still comfortably high so it’s time to get ready for my approach, but find a great deal of sinking air. I have to cross the Rio Doce.. a giant surging river swollen and muddy from recent floods.  I’m worried I might not make landing. 

The setup is a little different, I had to come in from the opposite end of the LZ. Kevin is on the radio and really paying attention to me, coaching the landing. I’m scared. More nervous than I have ever been flying before. I hate feeling like this. Too much adrenaline…makes it hard to think clearly.
He guides me in and I plant it perfectly, next to the road. First landing, out of the way.

We celebrate with some beers and food.

GV has sushi. A whole bunch of it, actually. It’s not bad. Not too creative or too many choices, but it really satisfies the craving. 

I love the meat on a skewer, even at the buffet, you can get seasoned, juicy grilled meats by the pound hot off the coals. The locals’ favorite are chicken hearts. The beef and pork are also delicious. The most common  (and least expensive) thing to eat here are the stuffed pastries. Fried or baked then stuffed with meat or cheese generally. Street vendors are really different here. I have seen mostly fruit carts…. 
The one that I think is really fun is the potato chip cart. In the evenings, they wheel a cart with a glass box top around and serve bags of peanuts, hot potato chips or popcorn. It comes in a small white paper sack.. about the size of a “medium” McDonalds French fry box. you can get butter, salt, cheese or spicy on either. It costs about fifty cents.

The only tourist trade here comes from paragliding.. and only for a few months a year. 

 The women outnumber the men by about  twenty to one. Perhaps this is the reason why Brazil seems to have the largest concentration of beautiful women per capita… they are everywhere.
The female police officers are all stunning. Every last one. Beauty must be an unwaiverable qualification for entering the academy. I will be recovering from whiplash when I return.

GV has a gay bar.
The women are mostly single, the men are not generally inclined to stay with any one woman… That doesn’t explain the gay male population though. The ratio here is a whopping estimated thirty percent. It is widely accepted. 
The bar is five blocks from my hotel.

There is so much to tell about this culture and tiny town, I will have to tell you more later. I’m going to check out the gay bar in the next couple of days.

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