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It only took seeing my younger brother strap into his harness for me to do it __ you know, for safety reasons. That was my initial excuse.
About an hour before, I found myself sitting on Playa de los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, with my family and a bucket of Coronas to share during our last day in paradise. Per usual, vendors walked by every few minutes or so, peddling their wares: faux Ray-Ban sunglasses, mango-on-a-stick snacks and even private mariachi performances. Eventually, we were approached by a man offering parasail rides. He explained that only 250 Mexican pesos (about $15) would get us a high-flying trip through the sky. All week, we had seen the small boats offshore towing brightly colored parachutes up and down the bay.
My hesitation was short-lived __ a fact I am grateful for, as the experience was one of the best I had while in Mexico. After signing the waver and strapping a GoPro to my head, I stared off at the distant watercraft that would be my chariot to adventure. The slack line quickly grew taut, and the man told me to sit down as I reached the waterline. Up and away I soared, swiftly gaining altitude of more than 200 feet.
Nothing helps me completely understand and appreciate a place quite like getting a bird's-eye view. The entire stretch of Puerto Vallarta was laid out before me, and the muddy-brown waters of the Rio Cuale flowed down from the mountains, swirling into the aquamarine ocean below.
We turned around, and I slowly drifted down above the hotels toward the beach. I'll never forget seeing someone floating in his private rooftop pool, soaking up the sun and relaxation. I waved, but, alas, the greeting was not reciprocated. Two pulley straps helped tug me left or right, and with the guidance of the man on the ground, I touched down almost precisely where I started, with an exultant grin stuck on my face.