There are few things that I would not withhold from myself, for an opportunity to explore more of the world. I love the unique experiences that are borne from being in fresh, unfamiliar environments. I recognize my privilege and I am consistently filled with awe and gratitude to be in a position to experience things I previously saw as things ‘other people did’ or ‘zvemu tv’ (things on tv).
The sentiment described above, was on steroids as I watched the sunrise, from a hot air balloon flying over the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico. Is this really my life? My sister had convinced me to book the experience the previous day, after I was hit with a serious case of imposter syndrome a few hours after arriving into my apartment in Mexico City. I felt that booking this experience would be too much. ‘But, too much for who?’, I ponder as I write this now. ‘Enjoy the moment you are already there’ she reminded me. I booked the tour with Teohitican en Bici through Viator.
I had a very early start to the day, as I was picked up at 6.30am from my apartment (was pleasantly surprised I made it up on time as I had to finish packing and check out before they arrived). It was still dark and I realised at this point that I am likely to catch a sunrise. It was really cold and I had thankfully packed my jacket into my day bag. After about an hour and a half, we arrived at the ‘check-in’ centre and was so grateful to see filtered coffee on offer served with biscuits and fruit. After a few minutes it started getting lighter outside and then the balloons then started being fired up one by one. There were about 80 people also waiting to board one of the balloons. Names were called, we were directed to the balloon that would take us up. At this stage I was still rebuilding the confidence to ask people to take pictures of me as I was back to solo travel….after a long time.
It was surreal walking into this giant basket which held 12 of us very comfortably. More gas was pumped to ignite the fire to ensure that the balloon was ready to fly. Once the balloon was fully blown out, one gas cylinder was thrown out and before we knew it, we were joining the tens of other balloons that had began to levitate across the sky. It was incredible to be able to see the sun rise, see the cacti plantations, the homes of the town and the pyramids from this basket in the sky. Watching so many balloons flying over this town on either side of me was a reminder of the grace that is over my life. For day dreams that occasionally manifest into my reality. Is this my life?
The balloon kept going higher and higher till one of the passengers on our balloon yelped, finally disclosing he was actually afraid of heights. He had taken on this exercise to conquer his fear, more power to him because there was another 47mins in the air after his yelp. The basket was flown higher and lower at different intervals, to enable us to fully take in what was around us.
At the end of the ride we a jumpy landing in the middle of a cactus plantation. Trucks, as seen on Mexican western movies, were already there to pick up the baskets and drive us back to the base.
It was fascinating to see them bring down this massive colourful canvas that had helped us levitate across the sky. There were about 8 men doing the lifting to collect and fold this canvas into the other trucks.
As the men folded the canvas we had breakfast sparkling wine and toasted ‘salud’ to a marvelous journey and safe return to the ground.
Back at base, we were presented with certificates to confirm we had completed the journey and welcomed for breakfast by a mariachi band. It felt like I was in some sort of movie set. For breakfast, we were served tortillas, eggs, green and red salsa, fresh fruit and avocado with teas and coffees.
After people were done with eating, there was an option to join the band to play one of their instruments, take pictures or dancewith some of the band members. I was still too shy for pictures but I danced a little. We were then invited to for a Mexican toast with tequilla, and then another toast with mezcal, all before 10am.
That experience was definitely one for the books for me and am so grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such beauty with my own eyes. If you are ever in Mexico City and fancy a beautiful experience, this is one I would highly recommend.