Rio De Janiero, Brazil

Rio, Brasil
Brazils contrasts come into focus right from the balcony of the Inter-Continental. A crowded favela, one of the largest at the end of this road, borders luxury apartments and hotels. Fireworks go off to warn the residents that police are venturing thru.

Tom by the hotel pool
Life is good for the Rabbitt, strategizing the weeks activities by the pool of the Inter-continental. There is no one better qualified to show an Americano a good time in Brazil.

Rio Shore Line
The beaches along Copacabana were not overly crowded. The waves were very large although not on this day.

Rio, Brasil
Back of Jesus
The people on the stairs near the top, provide some perspective on the scale.

Jesus view of Rio
Looking down at the large fresh water lake and race track.

Diane, Viviane and Tom
Diane, Viviane and Tom drinking their water. Patty Kondub Fitness would be pleased.

Jesus over Rio
Well, this is what can be seen for miles in and around Rio. He is the size of a my thumb nail from most points in Rio.

Viviane, Diane and Tom
Don't you take my picture.

2,400 feet tall and a gift of France to Brazil. This image of Jesus blessing the city of Rio was designed by Marconi of radio signal fame.

Rio has long stretching beaches skirted by boardwalks and 20 story buildings. Level and urban along the coast, the interior gets mountainous and quite rural.

Rio, Brasil
Hang Gliding
Hang Gliding Ramp
This is the ramp hang gliders use to take off. Built on the edge of a cliff, you run rapido down the ramp until you hit air. Few spectators wander more than half way down. The incline of the ramp with that ominous view exagerates your lean back.

Hang Gliding Ramp Seating - Tom
From underneath the ramp, you can sit in these bleachers and watch the takeoffs. Huge gliders float in front of you for brief seconds and quickly vanish into a dot.
OK, who wants to go next?

Hang Gliding Ramp Seating - Takeoff
Paragliders take off different from hang gliders. Standing on the cliff's edge, feeding out line until the parafoil fully opens and then they just rise off the ground. You can see the beach where everyone lands just to the right of the chute. The golf course looks like scratches from this distance.

Hang Gliding Preflight Check - Tom
Well, the first volunteer is strapped into the suit. This is where you practice running with the instructor in the parking lot. Your legs are bound just below the knee by straps making short steps in your run the best strategy.

Hang Gliding Preflight Check - Tom takeoff
The suit is strapped into the apex of the triangle above. One hand on his right shoulder and the other holding a strap on his chest. He says to hold on lightly cuz he has lots to do without carrying your nervous butt down the ramp. So you baby step run, try to not trip and stay out of his way.

Hang Gliding Preflight Check - Tom takeoff
Your fate so obviously hanging on a strangers equipment and skill. I started to think about that tired VW Bug we drove up here in. Tom wondered how many people die each year doing this. Gratefully, these thunks get cut short.

um, dois, tres, vamos

Hang Gliding Preflight Check - Tom takeoff
rapido, rapido
The wings fill with air as you run. Foot traction gives way to upward drag as the harness lifts you from firm boards.

Hang Gliding Preflight Check - Air Tom
Pulled up just before hitting the edge and spared inclusion to the hard side of a statistic. That is Tom in the center of screen only seconds after leaving the ramp. The wind sock blowing to his left.

Hang Gliding in flight
On my turn, I asked the pilot if I could take some pictures. You hear very few 'no's in Brazil. Carefully, reaching into the pouch on my chest while imagining the velocity the camera would achieve hitting the sidewalk from this altitude.

Hang Gliding in flight
Now I know how hawks feel slowly circling the sky. Calm and effortless with miles of visibility in all directions. The only sound is swooshing air as you survey enormous quantities of land. This is a sport I could get into.

Hang Gliding in flight
We got a good run off the ramp and circled upward hundreds of feet to watch others take off below. As they would approach, the pilot made wierd animal yelps to announce our proximaty (he had me worried until I made the connection). The speed and dexterity of in air flight makes collisions the top concern. Quality of landing is right up there too.

Hang Gliding in flight
The pilot asked if I was feeling comfortable. I gave him the most common expression in Brazil, a thumbs up. So we skimmed the mountians, disconcertingly close to the tops of trees.

Hang Gliding landing
You come down on the beach pretty fast, much faster than a run. At the last second he pops the tip up and you stagger to a halt.

Hang Gliding Tom and Diane
Having a few beers while watching the other gliders land. All smiles at that table. We briefly faced mortality to soar like birds.

Hang Gliding Viviana
Hey Viviane, how did you like that? The silver VW in the background was the transport that grind and chugged us up the mountain.

Hang Gliding peak
Walking back to the hotel along the board walk, turning around to view the peeks we just soared. On a sunny day, you can see a dozen gliders in the air.

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