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More than just hot air

October 2, 2011

It all started when La Chica arrived back in Tanzania on 13th June 2011.  After her long journey from Melbourne, stopping in Bangkok and Nairobi en route, La Chica arrived in Arusha intending to allow herself time to recover from the inevitable jetlag by taking it easy for a few days.  She hadn’t reckoned on catching up with her Masai mate Zac on the day she arrived, nor being invited to leave Arusha that same afternoon to accompany him to Manyara to witness a coming of age circumcision ceremony for Masai boys.  La Chica hesitated for a second, screamed ‘yessss, ok!!!!’ and without even a toothbrush in hand ran with Zac to the dalla dalla stop to try to get a mini bus to the Manyara area before it got dark.  After waiting for a short time, rather impatiently, La Chica pointed out a posh four wheel drive parked nearby, and told Zac that if he were a true Masai gentleman (whatever that is…) he’d arrange for them to get a lift in the 4WD.  Zac responded to the challenge and spoke to the driver, to be told that as the driver had a client he was unable to give La Chica and Zac a lift.  Not one to accept ‘no’, La Chica went up to the 4WD and brazenly spoke to the client sitting in the front passenger seat.  ‘Excuse me, are you driving to the junction (of Manyara and Tarangire)?  Yes, well, would you mind giving us a lift? Oh, you need to check with your driver – no problem, I’m sure he’ll be fine giving us a lift.’  Seconds later La Chica and Zac climbed up into the posh 4WD.  The client turned out to be Graeme, fresh off the boat from Scotland, a hot air balloon pilot who had been employed to start up hot air ballooning in Tarangire National Park.  Graeme and La Chica exchanged mobile phone numbers, became friends on Facebook, and to cut a long story short, on Friday 26 August La Chica lost her hot air ballooning virginity thanks to Graeme.  La Chica has done many adventurous things before (abseiling, caving, land yachting, sailing, water skiing, snow skiing…etc) but had never been up in a hot air balloon.  She felt blissfully serene and alive, floating quietly over one of Tanzania’s most famous National Parks, seeing the famous baobab trees from above, watching herds of zebra running from the shadow of the balloon, spotting masses of wildebeest moving through the park – only being jolted out her meditative mood when the gas was released into the balloon with a roar!

The moral of the story – don’t get a dalla dalla when you can ride in a posh 4WD, you never know what will eventuate!  Thanks Graeme!

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