The wind had caught us. Like some flimsy bug held within its mighty fickle fingers, we were cast off into airy space. As the crumbling cliff-face receded beneath my dangling and redundant feet, the potential nightmare took a dreamy diversion up and away from the threat of a fearful plunge. While I didn’t really doubt our craft’s airworthiness nor its pilot’s abilities, it was good to have them affirmed. The adrenalin still flowed, but the raging torrents required to hurl myself off a cliff gave way to the gentle waves of calm euphoria.
Miguel talked about his love life.
‘I have three girlfriends – that is good, no?’
With his power to cut me loose onto the jagged rocks, I completely agreed. ‘A good number,’ I replied. ‘Enough for variety, but not too many to forget names.’
‘The latest is seventeen. You think that’s too young?’
‘How old are you, Miguel?’ I parried, while confusing the packed beach below with an ant’s nest.
‘I am thirty-five. She is very beautiful with lots of… you know…’
As we sought the thermals, he flourished his apparently free hands – clutching at the thin air for words to describe her nubile lines.
‘Curves?’ I ventured, settling down into the conversation.
‘Yes, curves!’ he shouted with satisfaction and a far-away look in his eyes. He took his hands off the frame again to celebrate the fact – much like a driver letting go of the steering wheel to discuss philosophy with a nervous passenger.
‘I love curves! Young curves!’
For the next ten minutes or so, we gently swept back and forth above the strip of land between mountain and sea. While the pedestrian dots in the streets got no closer, it was the tiny white curls of the faraway waves that brought back the fear. Endless miles of dark rippled blue, bar the odd mast to be skewered on.
He pointed to a landing spot on the beach in the lee of a smart hotel. The beach began to loom large with its stick figures now fleshing out to individualised life-size humans, while I dimly remembered the importance of the landing process, the details of which I’d largely forgotten. Perhaps because I hadn’t really listened, preoccupied as I was with what would happen if I stopped on the edge of the cliff and Miguel ran off it.
‘Bend your knees!’ he yelled, as the sand grains rose one by one to greet us.
I bent my knees. In one gentle thump our four feet soaked up our collective weight. We were down. Miguel unhooked the hang-glider in one neat movement. A small crowd of Japanese tourists applauded us enthusiastically.
Like moonwalkers returned to earth, we strode up the beach with our kit slung nonchalantly over our shoulders.
It was unclear which of us was the pilot. I smiled modestly and gave Miguel a congratulatory pat on the back.