Monday, 20 February 2017

Our wedding anniversary celebrated with a stunning flight in Sossusvlei/Namibia (and Bagan!)

PHIL:Day 6/ 20 Feb. 07

Allie’s and my wedding anniversary – a contrast to that brisk day three years before when we married in Quakers’ Friars, Bristol. Up at 0500 to go for our first balloon flight in Namibia in Eric’s Spanish-built Ultra-Magic N-315 balloon, built to carry 12.

It soon became apparent that I should do all the flying, under Eric’s watchful eye, with a mix of South African, Canadian and British tourists (plus Allie) on board.
Quite spectacular dune scenery – red, stationary erg desert – backed by ancient Gondwana mountain ranges. I had little time to gaze around, however, as Eric was niggling about how high to fly and which burner to use in a way I found unnecessary and unsettling. I just like to ‘get on with it’. Anyway, I reckon I did a pretty good flight with nicely controlled landing next to some 100m + dunes, dropping the balloon neatly onto the trailer for deflation. Superb breakfast ‘al fresco’ with champagne, of course, to celebrate the anniversary plus my 90th country of balloon flight.

Back to Eric’s to sleep, but by now it had cooked up to nearly 50deg C, so neither of us could get any rest. Had to console myself with Bill Bryson humour in ‘From a Big Country’. The evening spent fighting a very sluggish internet access and a rather late meal with Eric’s mother-in-law and wife Nancy just back from Windhoek.
 Another terrible night of intense heat and no air circulation in our room.

ALLIE: DAY 6: Tuesday, 20th February

And 10 years on? We are still happily married,
 love travelling and ballooning and our GnTs by 5pm!
  Celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary
 with a stunning flight across the temples of Bagan!
Our wedding anniversary and Namibia as country no 90 and 22 in the logbook!

Our third wedding anniversary! This morning I could have slept for years, but we have to get up at 5.00. At 6.00 we are on the road with Erick and his team driving to the launch site only a few kilometres from the great dunes. We rig the 315 cubic feet balloon (V5-HAI) and after the passengers have arrived we are climbing gently into the rising sun. Magnificent views over the dunes and the mountains make me forget my tiredness. 

Phil is doing the flight whilst Erick explains to us the area and specific features. We catch a good view of the “Devils hole” – a place where you definitely don’t want to land. “I had to land there some years ago,” Erick tells us, “and it took 20 people, three trucks and two weeks of pain staking effort to get the 700kg kit out of there”. We are certainly having more luck with the winds on this flight not though with the sun which doesn’t really want to appear behind the clouds. And an hour later we touch down on the back of our retrieve truck! A perfect landing.

Flying over the Irrawaddy river with barge underneath
Celebration of Phil’s 90th country with a balloon, my 22nd and our anniversary. ( am now at 81 countries and Phil at 113!)

A fantastic breakfast is laid out in front of us and we indulge in smoked Zebra, butter fish fillet and fresh fruit.
It is getting very hot. 52 degrees in the sun and 40 in the shade! No wonder our much longed rest back at the lodge turns into a battle against the heat and dripping sweat.
Hardly able to move the afternoon is spent with writing, doing emails and waiting a bit cooler air.

Nancy, Erik’s wife, and her mother arrive at sunset time from Windhoek with a truck full of goods and groceries. Everything has to be bought up there. A mere 400km away from here! We spend a cheerful evening talking about mothers-in-law, falling in love and - of course - ballooning.

No comments:

Post a Comment