Ever flown in a hot air balloon? I hadn’t until a few days ago. I can only describe it as extremely practical and incredible. Practible? Incredactical? Seriously, take a look at this footage. It’s the feeling of floating effortlessly in the sky, the rhythmic throttle of hot flames slightly heating the back of your neck and pulsating in your ears. It’s the intermittent calm when the throttle is let up and an abrupt return to a hot neck and buzzing ears. But it’s also the understanding that you’re basically in a wicker basket propelled by tightly woven nylon and fire with no clear direction. Is this a metaphor for life?
When I was first presented the opportunity to fly somewhat like the characters in Up over the archaeological complex of Teotihuacán, Mexico, I said yes without batting an eye. The tour was booked through Sky Balloons Mexico by one of Remote Year’s amazing Experience Managers. We departed from Condesa at 6:30 am on Saturday morning and spent the next few hours prepping and taking flight (more prepping than taking).
The ride itself was surreal. It’s like those moments in life that you see with your physical eyes while not fully processing what is technically going on. Again, wicker basket, nylon, fire, always mathematically calculated weight distribution and probably other equations that I can’t make sense of.
The only thing I could think of while flying was about the life of a drone and what amazing views it gets to experience each time it takes flight. Our view was over the ruins at Teotihuacan, which was a pre-Colombian city and now an archaeological complex Northeast of Mexico City. The trip was a mix of human droning up and over the ancient pyramids of the sun and moon, some sacred temples, and the modern city that now thrives there.
The question is not “how does one steer a hot air balloon,” but “what direction is the wind blowing?”
The most amusing part of this experience besides everything else was the landing. Our pilot used a walky-talky to communicate to his guys on the ground that we were landing. Since you can’t actually steer a hot air balloon, our “landing pad” was a moving target in a cactus field. After about four attempts and being relentlessly chased by the Sky Balloon staff, our wicker airship was finally on the solid and prickly ground. We had an audience though as a local farmer watched the entire process probably wondering who was going to clean up all of the mess. There also ensued a frantic rush to wrap up the nylon balloon as it deflated itself and fell sideways into the cacti.
© Copyright 2018 Akua Sencherey. All rights reserved. All photos edited with VSCOcam filter NC.