I arrived home last night after a whirlwind of a day that somehow involve stop-offs in four major cities.
And spent today lazing about in bed, as sick as a proverbial dog (as a sidenote, does that saying make any sense to anyone? Since when are dogs any more ill than any other animal?).
Apparently I caught some form of Albuquerque super bug, which has imparted upon me such wonders as a throat that feels on the verge of swelling shut, the voice of an 80-year old Bingo addict with a 6-pack a day habit, a cough that sounds like both my lung and my spleen are on the verge of emerging from my mouth, a temples that feel like they have degenerated into the strength of eggshells, threatening to explode with every cough, and alternating hot and cold flashes. As such, on a day where I should have been playing frantic life catch-up, I spend nearly an hour reflecting on the ceiling and peeling paint off my radiator, as it was the only thing I could concentrate on. And made it through a whopping five pages of reading before giving up.
I also reflected on how ironic it is that it is more permissible to miss appointments for a conference than illness in this weird microcosm they call grad school. It is more stressful to think about having to cancel such meetings than actually being brutally ill, and, as such, I spent a good chunk of the day ruminating on how on earth I could afford to be absent this week after a scheduled absence much of last week. Argh.
However, on the bright side, I do have sky-high tales!!
Though the rest of the conference was still equally hectic, with promises to my body of naps being quickly forgotten, I did manage both my excursion in a hot! air! balloon! and a quick visit to Old Town, rife with tacky tourist traps and fantastic architecture. To tell the truth, though, even just the car ride to the balloon departure site helped, because it meant escaping from the glass walls of downtown and seeing a little more of the reality of how the city operated.
After an exceedingly frustrating night of trying to coordinate dinner and drinks plans with 10 people in a city clearly ill-equipped to deal with an influx of thousands of conference-goers, I awoke bright and early at 6am for my pick-up. The five of us, plus the crew, made our way out to a random residential strip mall parking lot, where they begin setting up the balloon. Turns out that there is no formalized launch site-- instead, they take off in an appropriate empty space determined by weather factors.
Early morning sunshine.
R. helps them set up...
And we're off!
It turns out that there is also no designated spot to land as well, as it depends on the wind and such. We ended up landing in a cul-de-sac, after nearly skimming the top of a roof.
It was pretty incredible to help roll up that enormous balloon and find that the entire thing fit in about a 4 x 4 x 4 foot bag.
Even more incredible was the smoothness of the whole flight, and how it wasn't the slightest bit intimidating to be soaring so far off the ground in nothing but a closely packed basket-- though you are certainly reminded of the precariousness of it all when the basket hits the asphalt with a resounding and jolting thump, only to bounce again.
It is also the ultimate in voyeurism to be floating above a city at 8am, peering into backyards, and making up stories about the people unassumingly going about their lives below us, with only the echoes of dogs barking giving us any sort of narrative.
Once we landed and squished down our balloon, we were taken to a local park, where we drank mimosas mixed with Donald Duck brand orange juice, and were given certificates declaring our official entrance into the club of aeronauts.
Later on that day, R. and I skipped out of a symposia session to visit Old Town, where we were greeted by copious amounts of red pepper decorations, open terraces, flat-topped mostly pseudo-adobe buildings, vendors educating us about the need for religious faith and rich husbands, a non-dirty definition for fetish, and one of the fiercest blue skies I've ever seen.
There are more tales of missing taxis, gritting teeth, and Wonder Bread sandwiches, but I need to try and force my brain to read at least another 4 pages of my textbook tonight. Le sigh.