Learning a language makes it possible to get to know people and the area where they live in a way so much faster and more thoroughly than it would ever be possible to otherwise. It helps if you have a common link, like playing chess, rugby, or the violin, a desire to trade with each other, or just an appreciation of the countryside and history.
Enthusiasm is contagious. Our is paragliding and we made some great friends during our five years living near Perpignan in France.
It is essential to be able to ask for a pre-flight safety brief from a local pilot, including how weather conditions might develop and where to land without annoying the local farmers. And who better to share an after-flight beer-chat with than someone who has flown with you that day?
This week, undeterred by lack of experience, I have been designing logos for the Aligers club, trying to include the things that meant the most to us:
• Flying Mount Canigou, 2784 m, which involves a 45 minute , 10 km flight even if you just do a top-to-bottom
• Soaring over medieval castles as the sun goes down
• Riding the warm air currents on the cliffs by the Mediterranean Sea
Bliss involving French and Catalan.