The air was still and the sky was clear when we awoke for our day of hot air ballooning over the Pyrenees of Spain. The day before had shown signs of bad weather moving in and we went to bed convinced that our flight would be cancelled, but when we woke up, it looked like we were in the clear for our ride in the sky.
Having wanted to fly in a hot air balloon since we saw the Imax movie Serengeti in 1993, you can imagine the child like giddiness that filled us that morning.
As we ate our breakfast at the crack of dawn, our Costa Brava representative Albert told us that we were on hold until he got the call from the guys at Globubolg (our balloon company) but things were looking promising. By the time we finished our espressos, we were given the A-OK. If I could have jumped up and down and screamed without looking like a complete idiot I would have.
We were hot air ballooning through the Pyrenees baby!
We arrived at the Airfield and the balloons had already arrived. It actually looked like this was going to happen. The trucks carried three large baskets and our balloons had already been stretched along the runway. The excitement was palpable.
The clouds were holding off, but the ceiling was really low. That made me nervous. It didn’t seem to stop our captain’s from thinking we’d be able to fly though, so we all pitched in to fill the balloons.
Another group had joined our group of 9 and they had their own balloon which was filling fast. For some reason, the balloon that myself and Marta were holding up refused to fill. We watched the balloons around us fill with air and I started to feel pretty jealous of the guys around me. The balloon captain (is that what you call the guy that flies a hot air balloon) had disappeared and it was just Marta and I holding everything up trying to let as much air in from the tiny fan. We failed miserably.
Being in the middle of two other balloons, ours seemed to be getting squished and as fast as the fans pumped air in, it was being squeezed right back out. We couldn’t let go and nobody seemed to be paying attention to anything that was going on. Obviously this can’t be the correct way to fill a balloon.
A few minutes later, the group that we didn’t know hopped into their basket and took off. Damn them!! On one hand, I felt relief knowing that we’d be flying today, on the other, I wanted to be in that basket!
Once the first balloon took off, our captain came back after his smoke break. Well, he must have still been on his smoke break because he had a smoke dangling from his mouth. We all wondered if it was good to be around all this pressurized gas with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. My guess was no. But that’s another story.
By this time, Marta and I gave up trying to fill our deflated balloon. We flagged a guy down, motioning to him that something was wrong and he came over to turn off the fan. I guess he was giving up too. So with nothing to do, we all watched the big blue balloon fly in the sky with envy in our eyes.
They were far out over the field when the devastating news came. We were informed that our guys had decided to cancel our flights. They said it was due to weather, but with a balloon flying over the Pyrenees, we couldn’t understand why. Our dream was dashed as fast as it was realized. WE all stood around looking a little puzzled.
Especially when that balloon started to really catch air and by the time our balloons were packed up and all we could do was stand on the runway and take longing looks at the guys ballooning over the Pyrenees. As we watched that balloon disappear over those peaks and the sun catch the tips of the mountain all I could think to myself was….Sorry i can’t repeat that here.
We will fly, But alas not today.