Friday, June 29, 2007

So, I am at it again!

This time paragliding takes me back to Macedonia. I flew in through Turkey making just a short stop over in Istanbul - this time no chance to sneak out for another look at the Blue Mosque - and just a short 14 hours later of being on the road I was back in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. Here I was greeted in the airport by the "usual suspects" - Joka and Marko, Smiley and Dima, Alek was also there to complete the crew. Breaking with tradition we did not go directly to one of many flight sites in this small but picturesque Balkan country. Instead we headed to the city to relax and party a bit. The hopes for the next day were not much due to a strong wind forecast so I was happy to use the chance to catch up with some old friends and talk business with Joka and Karolina. In the evening Slave had one of his famous pool side parties - pictures coming up to cover all these little adventures.

Next morning the winds did not seem to give up. So, after visiting the Vertigo office - a brand new impeccable space that I hear Smiley designed himself - we headed up for a tour of the city with Marko. All the time we kept an eye on the sky and an ear to the cell phones to keep up to date on the weather happenings. Around 6 it was the time to head out to the town of Krushevo. This is a very important town historically to the country - here some of the decisive battles took place at the turn of the nineteenth century that solidified the local sociopolitical ties. The country takes these events extremely seriously complete with full blown re-enactments around August 2nd every year - a man standing a shooting off his Kalashnikov courtesy the last war of 10 years back especially comes to mind! But celebrations are just that - celebrations and no signs of the last hostilities that marked the the last days of Yugoslavia remain in the mountainous and beautiful country. To make the long story short - we got here, settled in a great old inn, got dinner and went to sleep.

Today we woke up around 9 am and headed out to the mountains. To everyone's disappointment the winds were strong and seemingly unrelenting. But, just as the winds have strength the Balkan folks tend to have plenty of perseverance. SO, we head to what is locally known as a training hill. Let me tell you, this treeless, grass covered MOUNTAIN has only one thing in common with what we think of as a training hill in the Eastern United States. People do train here to fly. A LOT. Soaring flights lasting a few hours are more a rule than an exception. But, for a little while it seemed that even this spot will fail us. We waited and played a bit in strong winds but ultimately a lunch in town of Prilep was all we were able to master till about 6 pm. And then the wind died down. Just like that there were about 8 gliders in the air and we all enjoyed this long awaited present, soaring in the rolling country side, enjoying the view of great mountains rimming the valley and dreaming of the long distance flights tomorrow.

Welcome to Macedonia!

No comments: