Yesterday, I went to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for the first time.
We woke up at 2am in order to get in line to catch the buses that took many to the location where the event was held. I am not from New Mexico, so I definitely did not prepare accordingly; in consequence, I was practically frozen from my head to my toes in the morning.
As we awaited the sun to rise, there was a laser show and a group of hot air balloons that gave us a nice light show, twinkling like the stars in the sky which were slowly fading away from sight.
Hours later, trucks became pouring in with their hot air balloons in tow and hurriedly set them up, most of them right next to each other. Slowly the balloons filled up until, finally, they rose to the sky where more trucks came to keep the flow of balloons going.
The sky was filled with both color and character. It was lovely. There was one of Darth Vader and Yoda, a mariachi, a frog, a sheriff armadillo, and even a massive cow. There were so many different types of balloons that it was hard to keep track of them all.
Many flew towards the hillside, but there were also some that drifted right into downtown because of the wind. I heard many landed on top of people’s houses and that there were some people up there that wanted to race all the way to Kansas. Kansas! Imagine just being stuck up there in the sky for days, maybe, until you finally reached Kansas.
Nonetheless, the Balloon Fiesta was quite an experience and was glad that I got to attend it. The only complaint that I had was when the event was over and we were trying to get back to the buses to leave. There was so many people making the lining up process viciously difficult. At the same time, the staff was not even guiding these people to make things more organized. Leaving was almost chaotic. Thankfully, there were no real problems, but still anything could happen at anytime to create real chaos.
I do recommend going to the Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque. It is quite a lovely, novel experience. However, please keep the following in mind:
- Get to the buses very, very early. 2am like I did. So do not stay up too late.
- Get ready for the cold (especially if you are not used to about 35-40 degrees in the morning), but it will warm up, of course, as the day moves along.
- Get ready for the amount of people to increase exponentially and then getting used to it
- Get tickets with a type of “insurance”. The weather in Albuquerque, as I have been told by many different people, is quite unpredictable. If the weather suddenly becomes too rough to fly hot air balloons, they will not fly them. If you do not have the insurance that they offer, you will have wasted your money.
- Have fun!
Tomorrow, I leave Albuquerque for San Diego in my car. Another 12 hour drive. I will take stops more frequently this time and give my back a break from being cooped up in that moving tin can. I wonder what we will see on the way back. Maybe a lost hot air balloon?