Friday, October 29, 2010


So......we get up in the dark, and I still haven't seen the area since we arrive in the vast Zelve Valley.  The night before we decided to take a hot air balloon over this valley at dawn. 9 of us arrived in a field somewhere all sleepy and cold.  We climbed into the basket of our balloon with our 'experienced' pilot, Ismail. I was glad he was 'experienced' because I had talked 5 other apprehensive travelers into joining Steve and I on this adventure. As we started to rise, it was evident that there was NO breeze, just thick cloud cover.  In fact, we repeatedly rose into the cloud cover looking for "air"...not an enjoyable experience, and I was nervous when we could not see anything.  Our pilot spoke English well, and kept saying all was O K..not to worry.

We were in the "Sultan", and do I look worried?  Nahh...but I did notice were were using A LOT of the fuel canisters to go up and down looking for a breeze. A full hour went by and people were getting cold and the pilot was looking for a flat place to land.  We came out of a cloud cover and I saw a big mt. directly below and it sure didn't look flat to me.  The pilot's slow perfect English now turned into very rapid Turkish, and even the Turkish people who had been laughing and joking the whole ride turned silent! We were descending toward the Mt. top, and then brushed the side.  Steve seemed to think this was fun stuff, and even reached out and grabbed a rock from the side of the Mt. top! We  all braced for impact, and I didn't see anyone else thinking it was fun.  In fact, I had decided I would climb over the backs of everyone in front of me, just to get out of the basket and make my way down the mountain side on foot.  Well...that wasn't going to happen because, we were tipped and hanging on tight...and the captain said he needed us all for "ballast"', as he tried unsuccessfully to "right ' the balloon and inch us down the side of the Mt. by pouring more fuel into the balloon and trying to rise!  We ran out of fuel to inflate the balloon..  The Turkish really got frantic and loud as I suppose he was trying to get his ground crew to find us and carry one of these huge canisters up the side of the mt. to help us.

These are pictures while we were going up.  You can see our Mt. which we posthumously labeled "Suicide Mt." in each picture

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