Monday, September 11, 2017

Fly high above the desert

Some things cannot be stopped. 
And flying seems to be one of those things.

I was told it would be addictive. I had not realized it would be that compelling. 

I may have said it before, but I will say it again: flying is a different kind of high. It is a calming, relaxing, peaceful elation. And I happen to need that sort of unwinding these days. 

So as planned, I looked up paragliding in Dubai and found a fantastic group on Facebook: Dubai Paragliders. These guys happen to be some of the nicest and fun people out there! 

5am, in my car :)
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Like a proper addict, I woke up at 5am, in the dark, got ready and drove for over an hour to get to that take-off site in the desert. Crazy? Not really because it ended up being such a treat! Worth every minute I spent in my car in the dark. Bonus suprise: I got a fantastic view of the sun rising over the highway. Priceless. 

The site is actually Mughamarat Adventures' camp. 

Arriving at the camp
Photo: R. Abouzeid

They do much more than just paragliding there and they are in the process of adding new activities which sound absolutely fantastic! Aside from your regular hiking and camping, there will be horseback riding around some beautiful surroundings. All of which are kids and family friendly which is exactly what I love to hear!

Posing. Just because. LOL
Photo: R. Abouzeid


At the camp, I got to meet all the guys and Captain Tamás who was gearing up for three tandem flights that morning. He is a seasoned pilot with years of experience under his belt both in aircraft and paragliding flights.

Getting ready to fly
Photo: R. Abouzeid

The take off site sits in the beautiful desert of Sharjah, where a rocky mountain called Fossil Rock overlooks endless dunes of the most beautiful orange sand. This would be a once in a lifetime experience for any paraglider as usually, the natural settings for this sport is radically different.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

We were lucky that morning, the wind was on side and we managed to fly for a decent time. To be fair, with mediocre weather conditions in Ehden, some of us could only fly for about 15 minutes so I guess, if we managed that same duration in the UAE, that was quite rewarding.

I was particularly fortunate as when it was my turn, the wind  conditions allowed us to go a bit higher and even play a little bit. I will not say we went as far as venturing into air acrobatics (my stomach remains grateful) but Tamás did go a little wild and, well, I think the video speaks for itself (I apologize for the high pitch screaming. ahem).


Spinning over the Dunes
Video: R. Abouzeid


Captain on top of things!
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Almost ready to let go of the winch way down below!
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Chilling up above
Photo: R. Abouzeid

No feeling like flying!
Photo: R. Abouzeid




Overall, the experience was fantastic and I am now more and more inclined to take lessons. Tandem is fun but it is not a sustainable flying routine and I think I will have to explore how and when I can commit to some serious paragliding classes.

If you too are interested in exploring the desert or flying in the UAE, get in touch with these guys! They will take good care of you and I promise you will go home with exceptional memories.

The complete album of my morning with them is available on Facebook. 


Dubai Paragliders
Mughamarat Adventures
... Call on +971.56.5452588
... Facebook
... Instagram


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Friday, August 25, 2017

The Boys of Summer

The boys in my hometown are rocking it.

Well, they have been at it for a few years now, but I was just too lazy to actually enjoy anything. I would just land for the summer and count the days go by.

But this year something happened. I felt a huge wave of nostalgia and kept remembering childhood summers and how careless and happy I was at that time. I remembered who I was. And I miss that girl.

So this year I decided to actually do all the stuff I always wanted to take on but never actually did.

That included paragliding which I wrote about before. I honestly think I have found an addiction. I absolutely loved flying and I have been trying to do it again but the damn weather keeps fighting me lately!

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Photo: R. Abouzeid

The experience has been borderline therapeutic and my soul needs this kind of serenity right now. The rush of jumping off a cliff and being lifted by the wind was beautifully liberating. It was not at all the scare I expected I had to overcome. On the contrary, it was overwhelmingly calming and relaxing and I am currently craving this state of mind and self.

It looks like I am going to have to find my paragliding substitute in Dubai...

Flying has given me the courage to try other things as well. The mountain is a wonderful playground if you really want to put yourself out there and experience new adventures!

And so, I conquered the mountains!

Well, not really, but I did conquer some fears and had a blast in the process. The boys at La Réserve took me and the kids for some wild fun:

A post shared by Rouba Abouzeid (@abouzeid) on
Source: IG


Source: FB

Image may contain: mountain, sky, tree, outdoor and nature
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child, shoes and outdoor
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Image may contain: sky, mountain, cloud, tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Image may contain: 5 people, people standing, outdoor and nature
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Zouzou and Ali were absolute sweethearts. The kids loved them and La Réserve. It is a lovely venue with chalets and a small pool that would make for a perfect getaway both in the summer and in the winter.

The boys know how to talk to children and I was shocked that such young men had it in them to hold entire conversations with my 6 year old Duracell Chatterbox! But they did and Mia is completely in love with the people in Ehden and I do not blame her one bit. She is even talking about staying here forever ;)

I am really proud of my hometown and the young people making things happen for themselves and the village. Ehden is truly beautiful and I am so appreciative of this new generation that is making our Lebanon shine in a positive and uplifting way. 

They are adventurous, they are passionate, they are fun and most importantly, they are contagious! You cannot help love them and what they do. They can talk you into following them anywhere and do just about anything! That is how spirited and impassioned they are!

Come and meet them, you will not regret it:

Ehden Mountain Activities
Facebook
Instagram
Marc Finianos
Phone: +961.3.754928

La Réserve Horsh Ehden
Facebook
Instagram
Joseph (Zouzou) Yammine
Phone: +961.6.561092




... Oh... And I cannot end without a tribute to The Boys Of Summer. The lyrics are in no way related to all that I have written above but the song has been stuck in my head ever since I typed the title! ;)  






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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fly high above the mountains

Today I crossed one goal off my bucket list:

I FLEW

I literally flew up in the sky. And it was every bit as fantastic as I had imagined.

Each year I come to Ehden in the summer, and each year I look up to the clouds and see these amazing people flying above us. Mia has baptized the yellow paraglider Le Petit Prince. Because like The Little Prince, he flies a yellow aircraft and he makes us dream.



Since then, she has been begging to fly with him. That is not happening right now, for obvious reasons. But I told her today I was going to fly one of those gliders and she got so excited.

Source: Ehden Mountains Activities

She asked me earlier if I saw him in the sky. Little does she know I actually flew with him.

Mia's Little Prince is called Marc and he totally deserves the title my daughter bestowed upon him because he is Flying Royalty.

The minute you start talking to Marc about Ehden Mountains Activities, you fall in love. He is so passionate about what he does and this is literally his life. He does not waste time promoting himself or gloating, and yet, his reputation is well established because of his commitment and professionalism as well as his dedication to doing things the right way.

In a country like Lebanon where regulations and laws governing such businesses are virtually non existent and seasonal occupations are usually dealt with like hobbies, it was refreshing to see someone so involved and dedicated.

It is not enough to adore your passions in order to turn them into your livelihood.

But most importantly, when the person you need to trust has to actually care for your safety and your life, it becomes an entirely other ball game.

Marc has got game. He is responsible and takes every step needed to be on top of things and comfortable with his clients and himself in any situation in the air or on the ground.

When it comes to paragliding in particular, he has completed all international trainings and certifications to ensure every flight is completed safely and smoothly.

Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities

This professionalism is reflected in every detail and exercise he undertakes, be it paragliding, camping, or any of the other activities he offers at the highest altitudes (zip line, rappel, caving, etc.) and yes, it is a bike on a string that you saw up there!

A post shared by Rouba Abouzeid (@abouzeid) on

So if you ever swing by Lebanon, make sure you pass by my hometown of Ehden, give Marc a call and let him take your breath away.












Experience the adventure of a lifetime in the sky and make sure you check the other activities too. Off-roading to Qurnat Assawda, the highest peak in the Middle East (3080m of altitude) and spending the night at 2000m above sea level must also be on your list!

And... Enjoy!


Ehden Mountains Activities
... Call on +961 3 754 928
... On Facebook
... On Instagram




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