Puerto Vallarta Stories and Tips

Parasailing

I believe in testing yourself and engaging in at least one terrifying activity every now and then to keep the blood flowing. Okay, so I am not exactly an adrenaline junkie, and that terrifying activity more likely consists of my breaking out the emergency credit card to make some inane purchase like a $200 T-shirt. Still, after spending 7 days and nights lounging on the sands, drinking pina coladas, eating and eating and eating again, I was feeling pretty lazy and growing tired of the resort life. I wanted action! I wanted to see nature and swing from palm trees! Just to get a reaction, I shoved some brochures for a jungle trek (complete with canopy swinging!) under my boyfriend’s backpack. I was insanely relieved when he reacted by asking me if I was out of my mind and suggested we go for a nice, air-conditioned bus tour instead.

We compromised. I agreed to go parasailing on the beach, and he agreed to stand on the beach with the camera and capture every moment of sheer fright on my face.

Earlier in the week, when the holiday tourists were still buzzing around the beach, the cost of one parasailing trip was US$40. It actually paid to be lazy all of that time and take my trip a few days after New Years, as they lowered the price to US$20. Which got me worried. Would I be $20 less safe? Would the parachute host be $20 less motivated to strap me in correctly? If this ridiculous thinking is not the product of a capitalist upbringing, I’m not sure what is. Anyway, I forked over my money, signed my life away, and waited for my turn. I was feeling pretty brave, teasing my boyfriend and his friend about what a legend I was. Then the next-available parachute landed, and out jumped a bored-looking 12-year-old girl. I was going to have to go through with it after all.

I’ve heard that Mexican culture is rooted in superstition, but I was not prepared for the look of horror I received when I begged the parachute operator to assure me that there was zero chance I could crash and die. "No, mamacita, no die, no!" I climbed into a steel panty-like harness and monitored his every move carefully as he strapped thick suspenders over my shoulders and attached them to the steel parachute hooks. It looked solid enough.

As it turned out, the only frightening part of the 5-minute trip around the shores of the Malecon was take-off. I actually screamed as the boat gained speed and swiftly lifted me into the air. Faster and faster, it propelled me into the sky until, all at once, I found myself miles away from the shore and cruising at a slow and relaxing speed. My knees were still buckled, and there was no way that I was letting go of the parachute strap, but I did have a good look around while I was up there and savored the chance to sing at the top of my lungs and relish the thought that no one else on the planet could possibly hear me at that point. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Playa los Muertos.

Keep in mind: you should only pull on your harness string to land if you hear the instructor blow his whistle. If you insist on pulling it anyway, even though you were landing just perfectly on your own, you may just wind up on the rooftop of a hotel. Thank goodness for kind and forgiving instructors that come running after your parachute to help you land safely on the sand. Gracias, Carlos.

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