Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Watching Flor Fly

I have a friend who seems to defy gravity.  Her name is Florencia, but most people call her Flor.  Ironic, no?  Well, Flor is very passionate about nutrition, mental, physical and spiritual, health and exercise. I first met her on the 50 States Ride in DC.  It was a brutally hot day and the route was very hilly. Most of us were slogging up the hills in our granny gear. Flor was floating, dancing effortlessly on her pedals.  She barely seemed to break a sweat. As it turns out, she also climbs rocks,  Big ones. Cliffs actually.  The kind that most mortals wouldn't even think about. When I saw some pictures of her dressed all in black climbing some impossibly scary looking wall of granite, I called her spider woman.

For mind and body, Flor likes to do yoga. Of course, for most people this is an earth-bound activity.  Not for Flor. Her latest passion is acroyoga. As the word implies, acroyoga combines yoga with acrobatics. Each Sunday in Meridian Hill Park in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of DC, people get together to do their acroyoga thing.  Flor has been telling me to check it out for a while.  Last Sunday, the weather was nice, and Little Nellie was looking for a place to ride so we set out to the city to watch Flor fly.

Where's Waldo?
I love the Mount Vernon Trail. It's as nice a bike ride as you can find, but I ride it every day on my way to work. Instead of riding the trail from Alexandria to DC on the Virginia side of the Potomac, I decided to cross over into Maryland on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail and ride to Adams Morgan by way of Oxon Hill Farm, Anacostia, and Capitol Hill.

At Oxon Hill Farm, I took a path down hill through a wooded area.  Out of the corner of my eye I spotted 2 wild turkeys. I stopped to take a picture but lost the turkeys in the browns and grays of the woods.  As I was straining to spot the turkeys, I came to realize that I was practically surrounded by deer. They blended almost perfectly into the trees.

Hiding in Plain Sight
A mile or so farther along, the path emptied into a light industrial area.  Tucked into the southernmost corner of DC, this little neighborhood contained a big job training center, a nursery with vast greenhouses, water and sewage treatment plants, the DC police academy, and a nondescript new police building.  In front of this building stood an odd looking black and gray sculpture.  It looked like a wave of some sort. Nellie went in for a closer look.  Much of the sculpture was made from handguns.  I wondered where they all came from. Actually, I don't think I want to know.
Wave of Violence?


Moving on I made my way up yet another hill to Martin Luther King Boulevard.  This took me across a series of smallish hills through some seriously poor neighborhoods.  Just before entering Anacostia River Park, I spotted some posters of photographs hung on a chain link fence. Little Nellie posed with them.
Cuddle Up

After stopping to take in some flag football, I rode out of the park, across the Sousa Bridge, and up Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. I stopped at Eastern Market to grab a bite to eat.  I briefly listened to a couple of young buskers playing pop music on flute and violin.
Emory vs. Virginia Tech

All this dilly dallying was going to make me late for the acroyoga, so after a lemonade and a pretzel, I pedaled as fast as I could to Adams Morgan.  After some encounters with stairs, I found a bikeable path into Meridian Hill Park. After a few minutes I came upon a couple. The man was prone on a blanket. A petite brunette woman was straddling his legs and rubbing his back. It was Flor and Rafael, her acroyoga partner.  He would be the base and she the flyer.  After a few minutes, Rafael was ready and Flor began to fly. At times she was totally serious looking. At others she was laughing.  The two of them kept talking throughout with Rafael telling Flor where his hands or feet would be.  Communication and trust are everything in acroyoga. One misplaced hand or foot and the flyer would soon be on the ground.  It happened a few times with Flor and Rafael but mostly because they were attempting new moves.  A couple of times Flor simply dismounted like a gymnast but there were a few landings that would have not met the approval of the Olympic judges. (Crash!)
Looking Serious
All Smiles
John, Am I Straight?
Moving into Position

Downward Acrodog?
Man on a Wire

Sometimes Flor was static either on her stomach or side, reaching out gracefully with toes pointed one way and hands pointed another, head arched upward.  Other times she was rotating on Rafael's hands or feet.  Totally in control.  Occasionally, she'd go upside down and hang.  This looked pretty comfortable.   

All the while Flor was flying, another couple was doing acroyoga a few feet away. They seemed less in sync but were, in their own way, pretty impressive. Across a park pathway, two women were exercising with hula hoops.  Then a man came and, using a ratchet device, slung a yellow tape between two trees and began to tightrope walk on it!  Behind us, some more people showed up. Another guy deployed his tightrope between two more trees. I had somehow stumbled into a Cirque du Soleil training camp.

After an hour or so, Flor and Raphael took a break. I had a chance to visit with my friend and thank her for inviting me to see this unusual scene. Our chat ended as several people, some with bongos in hand, came into our area. I was feeling a little like Toby Tyler. With only about 90 minutes of daylight remaining, I headed for home.  All in all, not a bad way to spend a fall afternoon in the city.


  1. I love the story! Thank you for including me in your blog! I feel like celebrity now :)

  2. There are a bunch of asanas designed for two people. I never got into it myself. At the time it was hard finding a few people to do an occasional practice let along a regular partner.