Every year I make my annual migration back to the lands of my Navajo ancestors in the American Southwest. But unlike my brethren before me who emerged from the earth, I prefer the airborne route. As soon as I feel the dry air and breathe in the scent of sandstone, piñon trees, and sagebrush, I know I’m home. It’s balm for my soul to soak up some good ole’ native vibes and revel in being with other brown skinned and brown haired people just like me.
My aerial odyssey came in the autumn so I could visit the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta known as The World’s Premier Balloon Festival. The event took place from October 5-13 and the years theme was “Enchanted Sunrise.” The festival began over forty years ago and it enjoys a prestigious reputation in the ballooning world. And earned it is. The event was a visual explosion of color with all kinds of creative balloon shapes and sizes. It’s quite a spectacular sight to behold. The unique conditions of Albuquerque create a “box” of predictable wind patterns that make it perfect for ballooners to ascend and descend in the same area. My sisters and I woke up long before sunrise to make it to the Ballon Fiesta Park for the much anticipated mass ascension “waves” that fills the sky with hundreds of vibrant balloons. The crowd was in a cheerful mood with people from throughout the USA and the world amassing to admire the beautiful display that takes place along the edge of the Rio Grande River and framed with the dramatic backdrop of the Sandia Mountains and West Mesa. Balloons and burritos for breakfast. What a wonderful way to start the day.
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