I decided to squeeze in today's events while my colleagues sip their coffee... Pictures and videos will follow soon I promise!
Today, we woke up early to a promising thermal day... Which quickly got completely covered after we were done eating breakfast! Boo. We went swimming in our beautiful hostel pool, had some drinks and I collapsed in a hammock while reading a book. Sometime later in the afternoon, the sun pierced through the clouds and we all jumped into the van to drive to the launch site. La Troncal is the first place Henri came and he is well known and respected here. There are a handful of local pilots and the municipality actually BUILT a perfect paragliding launch on the peak of one of the mountains facing the banana plantations in the valley. Indeed, the corn fields have been replaced with enormous DOLE banana plantations..
. Ecuador is the banana capital of the world! Anyway, the municipality is quite cool here, they even put up a giant sign at the entrance of the city stating: 'La Troncal, the paragliding capital of South America'. Quite amusing considering there are only 50 pilots in all of Ecuador... But the people are VERY welcoming to pilots here and the locals really have a passion for paragliding flight. They were all at the launch by the time we got there. We waited a bit for a big nasty grey cloud hovering atop the launch to leave... But that didn't stop the locals! I don't think they have a clue about meteorology or free flight theory on general because we saw a lot of them fly off in 90 degree cross winds, under giant low clouds and land in very dangerous approaches (likely to show off their stuff to the gringos!): like most latin countries, men are very macho. Anyway, we all had nice shortish flights (the sun didn't hang around long enough to generate the massive thermals we were promised, maybe tomorrow), the launch and landing are impeccable and the locals of all ages quite entertaining and fun to be around. If it's nice tomorrow, we will fly here again, if not, we will leave for our 5 hour drive to the coastal city of Crucita! I can't wait to fly and bather in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time... The sunset flights and constant perfect wind should be quite a delight and a good time for us all to get intimate with our wings.