It is the light, the bright light, at the end of the tunnel. The candlelight, the dim light, a little weak and yet strong, the beautiful light, so luminous and yet far. It is the light that the wind blows through, fleetingly weakening it, unrelenting, without care or concern. It is the radiant light beaming through the night, out of sight and yet there. Undeterred, she strikes back. Undefeated, she returns, soldering on but in one unappealing night, she gives in. Exhausted, it is to be no more, the party is over. Unprovoked, the wind returned, unapologetic, with all its force, throwing punches from everywhere in every direction, without measuring, unrepentant. And without decorum, abruptly, the light is turned off, debilitated, for good. Defeated, she does not return. And the tunnel sits there, in the dark, empty, unescorted, defenseless. In the meantime, the wind, weeps.
I bumped into something out of the realm of things I normally do for enjoyment and decided to go for it. Painting, crafts, anything creative is more in line with my taste but since I am all about learning, experiencing, I went for it.
On our way to the mountain, I noticed that some of the passengers were carrying huge backpacks until it became apparent to me who they were, parapenters, human-carrying aircraft or paragliders as they are also called, on their way to jump off the mountain, some for the very first time. Pardon me but I smell fear. They don’t use engines but can fly for long periods of time and the loads on their backs, equipments. So, I followed them out of curiosity. I saw them a couple of times over the mountain while driving but had to see them in action and I am glad I did because I got my money’s worth. Oh yeah adrenaline on high and flying they did. Who needs an airplane?
Setting up the equipment
And up they go, oh wait… down?! Safe travels…
There is something mystical about floating up in the air… wait a minute, better don’t get carried away. I take the plane and that’s as far as I go.
Yes, she is more courageous the I am.
And here comes the rookie…
Perhaps, I am the only person I know who climbs a mountain dressed as if I were going to the mall. Well, perhaps, there are others but I am in a class of my own. It is just my personna. I have never been the type of embracing a sneaker unless I am at the gym. I always believed that there is a place for everything and yes, this one had a mustache all over it but it is just me, and this adventure wasn’t going to dissuade me from looking glamorous. My hope was that it would at least dissuade any insect from getting closer. Wishful thinking!
Trust me, nature is my thing. I love to be out there in the wild, inhaling earth, enjoying the birds, the vegetation, the sun, the moon, the wonders, breathe pure air as long as there are no bugs or crazy creatures. Otherwise, I am the first person down that hill, sprinting faster then Usain Bolt. Yes, I raise my hand up and swear that I am one confused chiquita banana.
I fell in love with this mountain on the very first day I met her. Let’s call it her because to be that inviting, it got to be a she. Excuse me, where are my manners.
We were on our way to visit a friend in France from Geneva, Switzerland when this massive rock, pinned at the tip of the highway, emerged pronto in my face and said hello. It was love at first sight, one powerful enough that I was determined to climb it, even though, I had never done such thing in my life, not even a rock at an amusement park.
Salève mountain is located in 74160 Beaumont, Haute-Savoie, France right on the border of France and Switzerland, close to Geneva.
There were an army of ways I could have done this and they were all at my disposal. I could either go by car, téléphérique or on foot. And also, I forgot, by bicycle.
Considering, it was my first time at this junction, I could have gone on foot which could have perhaps take me a whole day and masses of insects bites; so, I opted for the téléphérique half way and then did the rest on foot. Let’s just say, we are even.
I was a tad suspicious of the trip on the téléphérique but went along anyway. Let’s face it, who wants to be up in the air on a car weighing a ton and suspended by a few ropes? I could see my heart talking to me and my head going at three hundred thousand miles but left it to the Almighty and got in with the rest of the pack.
I guess I was the only one not suited for the occasion, which I have beautifully explained but at the same time could not understand what the remainder of the passengers were wearing. They all seemed to have a load on their backs until it became apparent to me what it was. They were the parapenters as we say in english paragliders and they were about to jump off the mountain, some for the very first time. That’s when a pause and ask for a drink. Good luck to whomever, this is one thing you will never see me doing, I should never say never but climbing up rocks is one thing but jumping out of them, is a whole other ball game. So that invitation went down the grain just as fast as it was proposed to me. Oh no. Besides, I would need to take classes and a good dose of chamomile tea, and I was not ready for that endeavor.
Just as we hop on the vehicle, five minutes later, we were there.
We stopped a while to see the paragliders – which I will share about the experience on a later post, walked around the premises and then went about our thing.
I was ready for the thrill but I must confess, I was apprehensive, terrified I wouldn’t be able to reach the summit. How difficult would it be? I mean, a girl needed to stop sometimes to catch the view, hint, hint rest a bit but otherwise, it was smooth. Yes, this is little fiesta was prescribed by an unknown doctor for my sanity… I had made it simple by cheating, cutting the trip in half and if a seventy plus years old women I saw, was flying out there, what was there to be afraid of? What kind excuses did I have?
Yup, on the midst of everything, someone must have forgotten to tell me that it was steepest part left to climb and yes, it was a challenge, well just a little and yes, I conquered the beast. Hooray to me. Clap, clap, NOT!
There were instances when I was mulling over wether or not I had done the right thing but it all went down the drain when I began to mentally challenge the people going up the trail; who would reach the summit first?!
I zeroed in this cute kid who caught my eyes like a pray. If you are to challenge someone, why not a kid? Simple right? So, I thought.
He was with his dad and could not have been more then six years old. I calculated the distance and would say they were half mile away at that moment, and I thought to myself, there was not a chance in any bird’s life, he would beat me. After all, he was this little and I am this tall, and I was walking faster… nahhh, yeah right! I must have slept at the wheel because when I woke up I saw this kid zooming right by me like Speedy Gonzalo and I was left out there like a turtle struggling to go up the steep terrain and asking mama bear to spear me. Yeah, it was brutal, the nerve. Yes, lessons. Don’t mess around with a kid. Last time I saw him, he was sitting on the grass with his dad in some kind of heart-t-heart, well let’s call it what it was, bonding. How cute!
On our way up, there were the usual insects – they were this big – who made me their lunch, reptiles, cows, vegetation but most of all, it was serene, peaceful, thrilling and inspiring and once at the summit, heaven. Yes, heaven. I dare you. Try it one day and then tell me something.
Old spot used by the paragliders.
This is what happens when you reach the summit, you say Amen!
Yeah, I can just imagine going up that mountain on a bicycle. Mama mia…
Take it all in. Pause. Breathe. Feel the breeze. Exhale.
The view of Geneva from the Salève mountain
Want a drink while you are there?
And down the stretch we go…