If a bird defecating on you from above is considered good luck, then those who were walking the streets of Cochabamba below Fay today should, without a moments hesitation, head to the nearest casino, race track or lottery stall. We've been in Cochabamba for about a week now and have spent most of our time learning to fly with Christian, a paragliding instructor who assures us that his missing digit was from an incident with a wet hand and a plug socket and nothing to do with his chosen sport. Christian is a little short in stature, but makes up for any lack of presence with a healthy dose of aftershave. There is no doubting that he has a real passion for the sport, but a passion that is a considerable distance behind his obvious love of chasing ladies. His aftershave is accompanied by a perfectly groomed goatie, latin good looks and flawless complexion. We have been having our theoretical lessons at his house and I wasn't surprised to find that his teaching room was fitted with red velvet sofas and a bar. I had already clocked that I would need to up my game and be even more charming (?) to Fay than usual, but when he told us he used to compete in national tango and ballet lessons, I didn't really have much to come back with. Singing in the school choir on Blue Peter when 14 years old about a dead dodo didn't seem to cut it. When he offered us free tango lessons I fortunately remembered my old shrapnel wound from Nam, and that's taken the sting out of that idea for the time being. He is a very good teacher and has quality equipment and for the last 3 days we learned to take off in a small field with an unfortunately situated tree at the end, which Fay became pretty familiar with.
We have 10 days in total and the plan is to learn take offs and landings, then go for a tandem flight with Christian and then progress to flying alone, with radio instruction. Today was the tandem flight day and Christian picked us up from our hotel and told us that a Swiss guy was also coming along but that he knew how to fly and was just renting equipment. The guy was an idiot, and added to the tension that we were both feeling. We drove to a mountain, 650m above Cochabamba and prepared the wing. It was a steep gradient and a world away from the field we had been practising in. Fay was understandably nervous and I think because of this, Christian had decided to take her first. Without too much in the way of hesitation, the two of them ran off and were soon lifted out and into the sky. I took some video and then waited and watched as they caught some thermals and practiced manoeuvres and flew for about quarter of an hour before landing in a field. What I wasn't aware of from my perspective, was that as soon as they had taken flight, Fay had thrown up over Christian, then proceeded to do the same over the residents of Cochabamba, and then over the drivers car on the way back to the top. The lucky lucky devils.