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It had been a wonderful day.  A memorable kind of day spent with a beautiful woman seeing the sights of Rio de Janeiro.  Being a guy I was hoping for a particular end to the day in the hotel room.  So how in the hell was I in this situation: snapping on a foam bicycle helmet of dubious protection value, attaching a couple nylon straps to a small harness; looking down a ramp 1800 feet above the ground; and preparing to run down it and jump into the air attached to a hang-glider piloted by a guy named Paolo who I just met?  I was clearly insane.  That hotel room was looking more and more unlikely.

After being told where to keep my hands – well away from the bar that controls the glider, DUH – Paolo asked if I was ready.  With a last suspicious glance at my girlfriend, I said yes, and Paolo and I ran down the ramp and jumped into the air.  Wooohoo

I may have screamed, I’m not really sure.  I know I wasn’t breathing and was scared out of my mind.  Remember thinking that we were so high up, at least the death would be quick if this thing fell.

But the wings caught the air and high above Rio de Janiero I was FLYING!  It was the most amazing feeling – a liberating, exciting, thrilling adrenaline filled rush!

It is astounding what a man will do to look good in the eyes of the woman he loves.  To keep his pride intact he will risk death.

Days before my girlfriend and I were on the beach looking up at the very mountain I had just jumped from.  There were 6-7 parasailers and hang-gliders flying around the mountain.  It looked so beautiful and serene, yet exciting.  I casually said to her how I would love to do that one day.  Quite an easy thing to say from the comfort of a sandy beach.  Bold beach guy.  Aren’t I daring? 

So when three days later after visiting the local rain forest and the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer high above the city followed by a drive up a small mountain, that comment was the furthest thing from my mind – until we pulled up to a clearing where a couple people were waiting.  Alongside them was a hang-glider.  Cool, I thought – we’ll get to watch them take off and fly from up on top of the mountain.  That was when she said that she had arranged to bring me up (She was from Rio) here and that this guy would fly me.  My brain silently rebelled – WHAT?  Are you out of your freaking mind?  You are NOT jumping off a mountain 2000 feet in the air!  I immediately sought a way out of this and told her I don’t think I brought enough money to pay them.  No problem she said.  She would pay.  And she proceeded to pay Paolo.  DAMN!   I was trapped.  If I backed down and refused, I would be a coward.  And with her latin temperament and disposition I just couldn’t see myself being a coward in her eyes.  I was afraid it might change the way she perceived me.  So I suited up so to speak – and jumped.  For her.

So there I was, flying above the city.  The freedom.  The beauty.  It was the best feeling I had experienced in my life to that point.  We flew over her condo building.  We flew out over the ocean.  And after about 20 minutes, we swooped down and landed on the beach like some celebrity –amidst the beach soccer players and directly across the road from my hotel.  Amazing.  I faced a tremendous almost paralyzing fear, admittedly with great reluctance and only after trying to back out.  What men will do for the women they love…… But what a gift she had given me.  I will never forget it.  Or her.