After a three-day conference/program in Mexico City (alas, not a Marriott stay), my colleagues and I enjoyed a memorable, hugely gratifying day trip - a Sunrise Balloon ride (around and) over the Teotihuacan Pyramids (the Sun and the Moon). OK, we woke up early for a hotel pickup in Mexico City was at 5:00 am. Fortunately, we enjoyed terrific conditions and - as demonstrated below - were treated to lots of eye candy, with more than three dozen balloons circling the site.
Since the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is still on my bucket list, I figured this would be good practice... (C'mon, any excuse is better than no excuse....)
Hope springs eternal, and I hope to meet nmballoonist sooner, rather than later... Maybe this will be the year!??!?
And, unlike, iahflyr, I'd checked my (heavy) bag - with my suits & dress shoes, and other necessities - so that I could carry on (most of) my camera equipment ... and I'm glad I did! Here's some examples:
I'll start with my favorite picture - with the morning mist .. drifting through the middle of the frame and burning off as our flight began... That's the Moon Pyramid in the background. (More perspectives on that pyramid follow.)
And here we are passing by the larger Sun Pyramid. (More perspectives on that massive pyramid are below as well....)
To put the (massive) Sun Pyramid in context, here's what it looked like as we got closer and passed over the top. In contrast, that pedestrian walkway across the top was mobbed when we hiked up to the top later in the morning. (See the photo, below, for comparison purposes....)
It was fascinating to see where the (dozens of) balloons -- flown by a handful of competing vendors -- landed after their circuit of the (massive) pyramid site. More than a few - including ours - landed adjacent to large fields of cactus.
After the ride, the chase team was waiting for us, and they quickly and efficiently did all of the work.
I was really impressed that the chase team stuffed our (massive) balloon into such a small (but obviously heavy) bag after it deflated. (Oh, and that's our highly skilled pilot, in the middle, in black....)
Then, the balloon portion of the adventure concluded with a tasty buffet breakfast, followed by a fun tradition: after the balloon ride, there was a ceremonial champagne toast ... and a (surprisingly poignant) prayer, which, apparently, has been voiced for generations, expressing thanks for the experience of flight and a safe return.
Later in the day - with the sun fully over head, we walked the stairs of the Sun Pyramid. The size of the steps was (extremely, incredibly) uneven, ... and you could feel the altitude ... but, otherwise, the walk to the top was well worth it.
Frankly, we found the smaller Moon Pyramid (below) was more visually interesting, although the stairs were not open all the way to the top - indeed, you could only go just under halfway up.... (Bummer.) Here's the view (from part-way up the Sun Pyramid - with a long telephoto lens).
Here we are passing over the Moon Pyramid (in the balloon, duh)....
Here's a closer perspective on the Moon Pyramid, at ground level, near the end of the (stunningly impressive ... surprisingly long) Avenue of the Dead.
One goofy observation ... having jumped out of airplanes with the Army (many, many moons ago), one of the first rules of survival is to not let another parachute pass under you.... With hot air balloons, however, it's perfectly safe to pass over and under other balloons, which is really kind of cool....
Our sense was that there were probably a half-dozen firms launching balloons the day we were there. We flew with the largest of the firms (with an excellent reputation and, to our minds, great service): Vuela En Globo Aerostático | Volare | Teotihuacan - although, frankly, we found it difficult/near impossible to book with them directly over the internet, so I ended up booking through the hotel concierge, which worked out just fine.
The morning we were there ... this company was in the process of launching more than a dozen balloons (maybe as many as 18 by the time they were done) with baskets carrying as few as two (the much-more-expensive couples package - for special events) and as many as ten passengers.
Within minutes, of when we arrived, with the sunrise, there was color everywhere... And as we ascended, balloons were rising at a prodigious pace...
It seemed there were balloons in every direction ... including down!!!
Obviously, we enjoyed the day... If you're in Mexico City, I strongly recommend making time for a similar excursion.