Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

I'm not having fun.

H-dawg and I hitched a trip to Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut today early in the A.M.  Obviously, we stopped for breakfast beforehand (mmm, that restaurant had a delicious potted plant on their table), then were sent out to some patch of dirt in the middle of Nowheresville, Egypt, to be "borne aloft," as my man Heiny put it.  Well, I like heights, so I figured, why the hell not?  Plus the Muhammad's Budget Hot Air Balloon Travel and Mail Order Bride Company even gave us free t-shirts with their logo on them. 

The morning was pretty cold for Egypt, and I decided shortly before getting into the wicker basket that maybe heights this high might not agree with the big breakfast I just ate.  I knew I should have avoided raw vegetables but, man, that plant was just sitting there on the table, glistening and begging for a nibble.  My anxieties were NOT allayed when I noticed just how budget this budget hot air balloon was.  I swear the thing was held together with adhesive bandages and a prayer to Allah.  Plus, I might have used the wicker basket as a scratching post while no one was looking, and MAY have torn a giant hole in the bottom.  I steadfastly refused to get on this death trap, but Heiny picked me up and tossed me in.  Before I knew it, the scruffy-looking balloonist had stoked the flame and sent us soaring.

I didn't get much of a look at the temple, to be honest.  I was too fascinated by the birds fluttering down below.  We got a pretty good look at Cairo's rooftops and backyards, and many a cat was seen.  I waved at them, but the simpletons didn't even seem to notice we were there. 

When we were at maximum altitude, Heiny slipped and almost fell out of the hole I MIGHT have made.  Hah, he deserved it for switching my cola out for diet last night.  He didn't think I'd notice, but I can taste the difference, even if I don't have sweet receptors on my scratchy little tongue.

The descent began as the sun heated up the atmosphere, meaning the air in the balloon wasn't as hot relative to the air surrounding it.  We floated down slowly, slowly....

"Hey, didn't we just pass the landing point?  I thought we were supposed to end up in that field."

Muhammad shrugged.  "Impossible to steer balloon.  No worries.  We come down somewhere, eventually."

"Somewhere, eventually" turned out to be the middle of the Nile.  I clawed my way up onto Heiny's hat as the basket fell into the water with a huge splash.  We were all soaked, and I was more than a little vexed, especially considering that there were probably more tapeworm eggs than water molecules in that particular stretch of brown sludge.  By the time we swam to shore, it was eight in the morning and I was already "funned out" for the day.

I'm never getting on one of those things again.  Heinrich is still licking the mud out of my coat.

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