Monday, February 12, 2007

A weekend in parts

Heading into my birthday week, I didn’t suspect that I’d be having a full-on, busy weekend. Plans included going to the balloon festival, brunch and a movie. None of it took much time to prepare, nor did I have to spend a lot of money on any of it. Perhaps that is what made the whole experience more pleasurable, just relaxing and being in the moment per event.

Part One: God-awful wakeup calls

Friday afternoon, I knew I was going to wake up at a really early hour on Saturday, with that in mind, I wanted to go home early, sleep, then wake up at 2 am to prepare. Fate had a different plan for me. Traffic was bad, and had to detour back to Makati to wait it out. Feeling pissy from this change of plans, I went to the spa and just plonked down money for a 2 hour massage, but no matter how good it felt to just relax and have someone work out all the kinks in my back, by the time I got home late in the evening, I felt like I would never get my energy levels back. My alarm rang at 2 and I groaned, who was the genius who thought of doing this?? Ok, no blame, I agreed to this adventure. But my body wasn’t in the mood. It wanted sleep.

We headed out into the dark, cold (yes, it does get nippy in Manila) night. The convoy to Clark Airbase for the 11th Hot Air Balloon Festival first came together at the Shell station along the North Luzon Expressway. The air there didn’t smell of diesel or petroleum goods. It smelled of porcine manure. Or manure period. For all I know it was a chicken farm nearby. Stinky, and made me want to gag.

The trail finally took off and we arrived at the airfield, to face emptiness on the designated hot air field. Some of those who had gone to previous festivals years past said that was odd. By 4 am, several of the teams are usually on the field, setting up for an early departure. We were setting up tripods and our sleepy butts on the monobloc chairs we swiped from the stands nearby at 5:30 and there was nary a balloon in sight. One balloon basket/gondola was on the ground, so we figured we were at the right place. Tick tock, watching the sun rise from behind Mr. Arayat was pleasant, and the cool breeze made us want really strong coffee.

Then one, two, 4 at a time, the suv’s came out of the hangers and the balloons were unrolled on the field. Teams walked out, looking a bit bleary, hair’s messed up, and probably less excited about doing another flight after two other days of the same thing. The festival is a four day event, and these teams do at least two flights a day.

The anticipation on the audience side is building up, and our fantasies take flight as the balloons expand and fill up with air.

(end of Part 1)


wysgal said...

Happy birthday week!

Mila Tan said...

Thank you!

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