The Paramotor Blues (and mangoes)

I said to Tyrhone today that I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stress about anything as much as he has about paramotoring. In fact, he has always been the calm one, the one who doesn’t sweat the small stuff, who says “she’ll be right.” Nothing usually gets to him, until now.

I can understand it, of course. From the financial outlay and logistical nightmares of starting out, to the physical, mental and emotional drain that this adventure has brought, it has put a huge strain on him, and us.

And the strain of a 60 pound engine is just the beginning…

We decided to stay here in Antigua due to a paramotor trainer who lives in a nearby town. The guy has over twenty years experience and has given Tyrhone some excellent instruction, but it has involved long drives to the coast or farmland via terrible roads. Then, there have been issues with equipment, weather and more. The other day, Tyrhone was doing so well, nailing all his takeoffs and landings and then his engine blew in the air.

He landed perfectly, thank God, but then faced a 2KM walk with a 60 Pound engine on his back, carrying a glider weighed down by the water which entered it on landing. That may not sound like very much, but let me assure you, it was a mission.

I carried a helmet…

To top it off, the tide was coming in and the sun almost setting which made the packing up of all the equipment even more challenging than usual.

He has been an absolute trooper.

If I were him I think I would have given up long ago. I’ve even considered it myself, but that would involve giving up on him, and I’m not quite ready to do that (!).

It’s been really tough. Beyond tough. People who said he was crazy were right. He is.

It has changed our entire traveling experience, adding another layer of both stress and adventure to the journey.

On one hand, if he wasn’t doing this, I wouldn’t have had to endure long drives, petrol fumes, hot, black-sand beaches and his incessant talking about the sport for the last three months, and on the other I also wouldn’t have gotten to see him overcome so much physical and mental hardship in order to soar into the air like the superheroes he used to read about in comic books.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

I also wouldn’t have had a lovely mid-morning nap in the back of the car at the farm where he trained, listening to the cows and the birds and the breeze through the trees.

Love me a nap…

I wouldn’t have gotten to meet some local kids on the beach and have them laugh at my Spanish (or lack thereof) or chat to some wealthy Guatemalan weekenders from the city who road up on their shiny dune buggy to see what on Earth he was doing.

I wouldn’t have driven through the lively village of Cuidad Vieja on the outskirts of Antigua on the way to training, stopping for a bag of fresh mango sprinkled with chili powder and sneakily snapping this pic of a photogenic ice cream seller.

Maybe I wasn’t so sneaky…

In some ways paramotoring has come between us as my abilities as his only support crew/sounding board/cheer leader are pushed to their limits, while in certain moments it has brought us closer together.

Like everything in life, it has it’s good and bad sides. This is a sport that gets really fun with experience but which is pretty painful to learn, and can only be done in certain areas with the right geographical and environmental factors in place.

Like wind! Who knew I would ever learn so much about thermals, wind direction and speed?! Not me, that’s for sure.

Truth be told, I’m not the best supporter. I find it tough to sit on the sidelines and wait. I find it difficult to support a dream which I want for him but is so vastly different from my own.

Writing this though has showed me that nothing is ever black and white. Sometimes Tyrhone thinks he made a mistake trying to do this, and if I’m honest, there are times when I wonder the same thing, but I can already see that it isn’t the real truth. It’s just that the bad days can feel like a lot of hard work, too much in fact, and the rewards have been so fleeting.

We have found parts of the experience extremely frustrating and challenging, but these are the times where we just need to stick together, have faith and keep encouraging each other and ourselves, as best as we can.

It took writing this for me to get out of my own head and see that, so thanks for helping me sort out my thoughts in order to discover the truth – that while I may dislike the paramotor blues, I do love the sweet moments, and mangoes. Or something like that…

Disclosure: These are not THE mangoes from Cuidad Vieja, they are mangoes from a separate occasion, just to be clear.

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The Paramotor Blues (and mangoes) — 20 Comments

  1. I could imagine the tensions it could bring, me and Kel would be exactly the same. Sometimes we regret living in the middle of nowhere for so long, but that also brought us closer together, even though we may have driven each other mental sometimes, we kept each other sane as well.

    I think it’s an amazing thing that you are both doing as well as an epic challenge. It’s always harder at the start and can be frustrating, especially something that not many others are attempting. It will get easier I’m sure and what an adventure it will be!
    Rob recently posted..We are leaving Mexico… Kind of…My Profile

    • Thanks Rob, yes every challenge comes with a silver lining, that is for sure. Sure it would be easier in some ways to stay in our comfort zones, but we already know that isn’t the life we want! It’s good to be able to share the challenges as well as the triumphs. Thanks so much for your input! :-)

  2. I thought to myself the other day, I wonder how Sarah is doing now there is the Paramotor in the relationship? Being on the outside, yet so closely involved can be really hard. I honestly don’t think I be doing as well as you. I would definitely be having more naps. Love me a nap too.

    It takes time to learn new stuff and its never easy at the beginning. These set backs are just set backs and it’ll get easier. In the meantime eat all the mangoes, they are delicious!
    Kellie recently posted..We are leaving Mexico… Kind of…My Profile

    • Ha! Sometimes Sarah is not doing very well!!! I am so happy he has this interest, but yes, it is tough for me to hear about it every single day for the last three months. I get to the point where I have had enough, and feel like there is nothing else he is interested in besides this. I know that it is a positive thing overrall though, I just need to be more patient and less selfish! I am mostly really chuffed for him that he is doing this, it just takes some getting used to. Thanks Kell!!!

  3. I think you are both troopers! I’ve enjoyed reading about Tyrhone’s mission and dedication and really love reading about your side of the story too. I have no doubt you’ll both be able to ‘weather the storm’ – just keep enjoying those mangoes (omg – the little baggies of them with the chili was my favourite snack in Guatemala!! Please have a dozen bags on my behalf!!).
    Emily recently posted..Our Love Affair with the IncaMy Profile

    • Hi Emily, yes it’s amazing how everything (including our attitudes)can change in a day! Perspective is a powerful thing and we just need to hang in there because there is always great stuff ahead! Like mangoes and chili :-)

  4. How good are mangoes and chilli powder!! 😀 I ate it all the time in Thailand.

    I can understand doubting whether embarking down the road of paramotoring was a good idea or not, but look at all the adventures it has brought you. Besides, most people haven’t even heard of paramotoring – you guys have had the chance to experience something most people don’t know exists!

    Are those shots taken with a GoPro? They look awesome.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling (formerly plasticsux) recently posted..Bali, All Is Forgiven – Can We Try Again?My Profile

      • Hey Karyn, yes it has been an awesome adventure, it’s kinda crazy that something which started as a far flung idea has become a reality. You will experience this in your own journey I’m sure. And if this whole experience has taught me anything, it is that the things worth having are not easy. Most of the time it involves a lot of blood, sweat and tears (though I hope this one goes easy on the blood!).

        Yes, we got a Gopro, so the ones from the air are taken with that. It takes surprisingly good shots and despite the cost I’d recommend it!!

  5. I think I would also have a hard time sitting on the sidelines and being the only cheerleader/sounding board. I’m sure he knows that it is hard on you too and appreciates the fact that you are sticking through the hard part with him. Hopefully he will find some obsessed paramotoring buddies to hang out with and take some of the stress off. You guys do look happy though :)
    Kim recently posted..Stuck on Wasatch MountainMy Profile

    • It is an interesting shift for us, for sure, but one which is good for us both. I’m generally a leader not a follower and whilst tagging along is not usually my style, it’s good for me (and him) to let him take the reigns and do something just for him.

      A wise friend once told me the greatest thing we can do in a relationship is allow the other person space to become who they are. For a control freak like me, that is not easy, but it is wonderful to see him grow and follow his own dreams.

      Something tells me we will be meeting quite a few flying people on our travels :-)

  6. sarah,

    I can tell you from my own experience that I am at my wits end some days as well and I wonder if its worth it(but it is a very fleeting thought, because when your up there its only something someone who has done it can understand.) on the other hand I find myself feeling guilty for the money I spent and will spend:) and the time it takes from my family. So I know how much it means to him that you support him and encourage him because trust me its what will keep him from going mad and quitting and it would be such a shame. I think the problem is we didn’t think there would be any growing pains if we went and got training, and that’s just not the case. For me one of the best parts of this whole adventure was meeting you guys so I hope you stick with it and we all get to go flying someday and Chantal would love to hang out with you on the beach and cheer us on. Take care of yourself and hope he gets in the air soon.


    • So great to hear from you Billy! We would love to meet your family some day too! I’m sure our paths will cross again at some point, and we will have many stories to share when the time comes. Yes, it has certainly been a roller coaster of stress, adrenalin, nerves and stress! Mostly, it’s been what all good adventures are – lots of hard work and dedication which results in amazing moments you would never give back.

      It’s hard to maintain perspective, of course, but I know that both you and him love this sport and it will take a lot more than a few hurdles to make you quit. There is still so much to learn and as well as many awe-inspiring moments, so we will hang in there if you will!

    • I didn’t know it was a thing until a few months ago either. Now it is a thing in my car, in my home, and on my nerves… ha! Kidding. Kinda 😉