Buoyant Force, Tensile Strength & Parasailing

To think that we would leave Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, without the pleasure of para-sailing was gnawing at the old heart. I mulled the thing over and decided that the best thing to do was to ask the valet who was greatly impressed with us, to holler and let us know when the parasailing man comes around. Apparently, he was not one early to rise and early to bed. He took his time and came around noon. I like folks like that in general, for I am not exactly a lark. It isn’t too much to say that had I been born a bird, I would have lived life thinking shriveled worms were food and that too becomes hard to come by as summer progressed. I may have tweeted from the trees to all who could hear about the sad state of affairs, but gone on to peck at wild grains and enjoyed myself anyway. But the problem was that we were to leave for the airport home-bound at 1 p.m. and if the Parasail-er came at 12 noon and then, had to go through his waiver forms and insurance checklists where would that leave us?

The husband looked at me amused. “Forgotten we are not in the US have you?  I don’t think this guy is going to bother with forms, documents and waivers. “ said the husband in query to my quizzical expression. The sun shone down and hope raised its beautiful head and sailed along side the distant parachutes in the sea once more. At noon, two men came dragging a parachute behind them. That was my cue. I ran on the beach towards them. It looked like another lady was going toward them too and I knew that if they took her on, both of us had an even slimmer chance of parasailing that day. The morning’s practice run had done me a wave of good and I pumped through the sands as fast as I could waving my hands in the air and trying to attract their attention. I have been seen to better advantage certainly, but that did not deter me. Shy birds don’t catch worms or get their fills of wild grains for that matter.

Now, let me give you a bargaining tip : Don’t let on that you are eager to have something when you negotiate price.

You are welcome.

When I reached the men, and asked them to state a price, they grinned. The sun caught the gold glinting in their tooth filling, and their eyes sparkled. They knew this customer was in the bag. None of the little tricks around not wanting it really, but doing a good turn to benefit the tortilla-winner of the family. No Sir. I still tried, so half-heartedly that they smiled even more, and said, “Come. Come Señorita. Just give big teepps okay? Big teepps.” (Tips)

I smiled, consented and dutifully pulled on my look of intense concentration to listen to the training they were to give me before the adventure. The husband turned his head by 3 millimeters and I knocked his knuckles and asked him to concentrate too. By the looks of it, there was a life jacket, but it was not one of those life jackets that instilled confidence in the wearer. The straps were broken for one thing, and for another they did not look buoyant enough. Not that I weighed the thing in air and studied the difference of displacement in water or any such thing, but I just knew. For another, if I fell into the ocean from  a height of 150 feet, life-vest or no, buoyancy force calculated or no, the shock of it would have me convalescing for a goodish amount of time. Obviously, I wanted to understand what to do in case of change in wind directions, changes in pressure or if the sea below grew choppy. There was a tiny boat that had a slimm-ish looking rope attached to the parachute. Somehow, everything the men said to make me feel as ease were doing the exact opposite. (Señorita! Very safe – new rope. Just 5 months old. Just give big teepps and I bring you down safely okay!) The mind boggled to think that depending on the tips, the rope could let you plunge into the ocean or be sturdy enough to get you back to land. But the Apparently-Brave do not dwell on the ratio between the tensile strength of ropes and tips.  They fly.

The sparkle in their teeth and eyes were a little distracting, but a butterfly could have grasped the directions, for that was all the time it took.

When I whistle you pull right shoulder rope okay Señorita? If it is becoming dangers, then I whistle again and you pull left side rope. Simple. Okay start now.

“What? No No. Wait. That’s it?”

That’s it – very easy. Very safe. Just remember teeppz.

“What if I hear a third whistle?”

I whistle only two times. How you will hear three whistles?” he said with a kindly expression that one adopts while talking to the idiot child.

“Okay okay. Fine! What if I don’t hear your whistle? I am going to be 100 feet above the ground. “

Don’t worry Señorita. We are there. We will get you down here.

I saw there was no point arguing, so I nodded and the next moment the boat took off into the ocean and the parachute lifted. Higher and higher it went taking my spirits with it. I looked around whole-heartedly enjoying the views from up there. The heart beat a little faster at first, but then settled into a steady, euphoric state that I could get used to. Maybe this is what people say when they say that they dip into their inner selves and experience pure joy. I gulped the salty air, drank in the fantastic views and lifted my hands in a smooth glider-like motion and at once a great feeling of gratitude filled my heart. To have experienced something like this is pure joy.  I have since had the pleasure of talking to a wonderful person who attempted parasailing at the age of 74, and she whole-heartedly agreed too. This feeling is there to dip into whenever you choose.

parasailing 2
That is some other person parasailing – a picture I had taken the previous day while lolling around with a book

I can’t say that I looked forward to the pull-right-strap-on-first-whistle (or was it the left strap?) part of the landing, but when I saw that I was nearing land again, I tucked in my nose and stuck out my ears as hard as I could to hear the whistle. Right enough I heard it and then, I heard the second one too. So, I used all my strength and tugged on the left and right or the other way around.

Wonder of wonders. The husband had apparently set their mind at ease on the tips they could expect while I was flying, for had I not seen such a smooth landing, I would not have believed it possible. I landed on the exact spot from which I had taken off and that too like a butterfly descends to sit on a flower. I gave them a delighted and effusive ‘Thanks’ and asked them to give the husband the same experience. The older of the men, touched his hands to his heart ( What is Mexico without a touch of melodrama?), and said, “I will do for him also Señorita.


The men beamed with the teeeeppppzzz and we floated back to the hotel to pick up our belongings.

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