The Flying Man and the Colombian Militia Group

tiger paw.jpgYes! The sweet, short haired receptionist girl was back at Tiger Paw Hostel! She smiled at me.

“Back again?”

“Yeah,” I giggle sighed.

“Do you want the same room?”

“Sure. It doesn’t matter.” I walked up to the room, changed, and went back down to the lobby.

“Is it too late to go paragliding today?” I asked the receptionist girl and the sexy owner of the hostel, Jack. Jack said that it wasn’t too late and asked me when I wanted to go. I told him right now. He called the guy and told me that I could go in an hour. It was  kind of expensive ($170,000 pesos- a.k.a. about $57 USD) but it was my second to last day in Colombia so I thought “fuck it.”

I grabbed some breakfast at my favorite spot, Tomasa y Al Alma, in the mean time.


On the way out I ran into Eric and asked him if he wanted to go paragliding with me. But he wanted to continue job hunting.

When I arrived at the restaurant, it dawned on me that I was pretty hungover. I wondered if it was stupid to waste my paragliding experience on a day where I didn’t feel 100%. But decided that it was okay.

When I arrived back at the hostel, my guide, Juan, was there. I climbed into Juan’s car and we began our drive. He seemed like a pretty chill guy but he told me that I was pretty in a sort of creepy way. I figured that he’s just being nice though because the hostel crew said that people always have a good time with him. His English wasn’t very good so I tried to practice my Spanish with him to communicate.

We arrived to the top of the mountain. Here there was a restaurant and a cliff which was used for paragliding.

“Tienes medio?” Juan asked.

“Que es medio?” I asked.


“No. Maybe at the last second I will be.” We got out of the car and 3 men exited the restaurant. They started talking to my paragliding instructor and introduced themselves to me. I assumed that they worked at the restaurant. “Quiero agua por favor?” I asked.

The man headed into the restaurant and returned with water for me.

“Quanto questa?”

He told me not to worry about it. Maybe it was included in the paragliding package. The 3 men pulled my guide aside. Juan told me to wait where I was. I was confused. Was my guide up to something?

The 4 men returned and Juan told me that these men were the police and that I should open up my purse for them. I instantly became aware that my cell phone and wallet were right on top. My credit card was in there with my cell phone. Without my purse, I would have no way of getting home or doing anything. I would have nothing! I begin trembling. I shook my head no and my lip began to pout.

“Por que?” asked Juan.

I concentrated on working up some tears- I tried to make sure that they were the light, pretty tears that dripped down my face onto my pouty lips rather than those ugly ones that make black makeup sludge down my squinting eyes and snot pour out of my nose. “No es policia.” I said, still shaking.

“Dis is the police,” said Juan.

I continued to shake my head. “No es policia porque no es romper de policia.” I wasn’t sure if that was Spanish or Sabrina-ish so I try again in English. “They aren’t wearing uniforms. Police wear uniforms.” All I could think of is when Tommy told me that if someone says that they are the police and they aren’t wearing uniforms, they’re not the police. So I clutched my purse tightly, shook my head, and let the tears slowly slide down my cheeks.

I had heard of cab drivers driving passengers to the top of a hill, holding them at gunpoint and robbing them. Maybe that is what Juan was doing. I could see that the men had guns but they weren’t holding them towards me at least.

After asking me about 5 or 6 times, the men gave me a hug and leave.

Juan told me to come with him inside the restaurant. From inside, we watched the men drive away. When they are gone I said, “I don’t think that those men were the police.” I wasn’t sure if maybe Juan thought that they were the police. Either that or he was in on it. I had no idea what was going to happen.

“No, they weren’t the police,” said Juan.

“Then why did you lie to me?” I began to cry again but not quite as pretty this time. Juan gave me a hug.

“Porque I was medio. Conoces el FARK?” I nodded. “They were like the FARK. It’s better to cooperate with them.”

“Do they rob you?”

Juan paused. He pulled out his money from his pocket to show me. “They asked to see my money and then they gave it back. They want to make sure that you don’t have a weapon. Let’s go fly!”

We went back to the car where Juan instructed me to place my belongings in a backpack. He said to bring my purse just in case we didn’t land where we began. I left my turkey beanie in the car because it was hot out and I wouldn’t need it until at that night. Juan explained that if we landed in the wrong spot we could take a cab back to his car.

Once I was strapped in and suited up, Juan instructed me to run off the cliff. I ran but before I got to the edge of the cliff, we were up in the air. I had my goPro on me so I snapped some photographs.


After a few minutes, I was bored. Don’t get me wrong- it was a great view. It just was nowhere near as exciting as if I had hiked to it or something. I was just sitting there. I asked Juan if we could do tricks and he said that he would have to get higher. I agreed. Eventually we got higher but not high enough and he said that he didn’t think that he could do it. We’d been in the air for about ½ an hour which is longer than he normally flies with people so I agreed to land.

We kept going back and forth and although we were trying to land, it didn’t seem like it. We flew over so many different landscapes: over a coffee plantations, shanty towns, the central city, farmland, waterfalls etc. Back and forth and back until finally we landed. Right as we were landing another tandem paraglide team landed right in front of us.

“Do you have to be back early?” Asked Juan. I didn’t. “If you like fish, we can eat here. You can catch your own trout.”

“That’s so cool!” I exclaimed.

“Ok, go with the girl and she will show you.” The tandem team in front of us was a father and a girl in a bathrobe who looked to be about 10 years old.

I followed her down the hill and to get some bait to catch the fish. I hadn’t fished since I was about 10 myself. And this fishing was different. I had fished on a boat with shrimp or some sort of solid bait and poles that you needed to wind when you caught a fish. This fishing was in a man-made pond, the poles consisted of a piece of fishing wire tied to a hook on one end and a bamboo rod on the other, and the bait was some mushy stuff. It sounds much easier but the fish didn’t seem to like the bait.

I looked up at Juan on top of the hill talking to the dad. For some reason Juan sketched me out. Why did he always have to have private talks?

When Juan and the dad came down, we moved to another pond where we caught much more fish. Pretty soon lunch was ready. The girl, Juan and I sat down at a table. For lunch it was fried trout. Big surprise. That was pretty much all that I’d eaten in Colombia.  

“Donde es su papa?” I asked. Apparently he had gone flying again and we were babysitting his daughter.

After lunch Juan asks if I want to take a walk. We walk to the hill where we’d landed earlier. He spots some oranges on a bush and we pick them and eat them. I ask him where we are walking to and he says right here. He wanted to stay up there and wait for the girl’s father. Apparently he was an excellent paraglider who was very good at tricks. Maybe Juan wanted to watch him fly. He asked me I could catch some more fish for him. I was bored so I agreed.

After a while, I got very good at catching fish. I’m not sure if I was doing anything differently but I had been catching one after the other.

Juan walked down from the hill and told me that the father had landed elsewhere. Juan asked his friend who’s restaurant this place was if he could go and get his car for him back where we started while we waited for the father. In the meantime, we watched a lady clean our fish.

cut fish

Juan asked how many I wanted. There were 10 for the 2 of us. I didn’t want to be greedy so I said 2, 1 for Eric and 1 for me. He asked if I wanted coffee and I agreed.

We were drinking our coffee when the girl’s father pulled up on a motorcycle wearing a beanie. The girl ran and gave him a hug. The father ordered himself dinner.

Juan was wondering where his car was so he called the owner of the restaurant. Apparently it was in the police shop. What were we going to do? And worst of all, my turkey hat was in his car!

The dad and girl finished up their meal and drove off on the motorcycle. They were such a cute little hipster family. I asked Juan for my purse which was in his backpack. I asked him how much I owed for lunch and stuff. 30,000! He said each fish was $15,000 which seemed like a lot to me but I hadn’t paid for lunch or coffee so I decided not to worry about it. I actually had thought that the fish were free though so I was a bit disappointed.

I was looking through my goPro pictures when a white van pulled up. He said to get inside so I did. Juan came inside as well. We drove to some random part of town and then got in a cab. Juan gave the cab driver money to first go to the police station and then go to my hostel. The money wasn’t enough to get to my hostel so I had to walk a bit but not too far.



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