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Every year shortly before Independence Day, there is a huge hot air balloon celebration in Ajijic. During this celebration, hot air balloons are sent up from the soccer field. The sight of these huge brightly patterned balloons being filled with air heated by a propane torch, then launched with a can of burning rags or sterno to keep the air hot, is an exciting affair. Some balloons burst into flame before leaving the earth. Others tip sideways and are ignited in the air above the crowd, that scatters to avoid ashes, falling matter in flames, or the metal structure that holds the burning rags or sterno. Other balloons lift and float for miles before coming to earth. One year the electrical wires next to the field caught on fire and balloons lit on nearby roofs and the roof of the viewing stands.
Here are photos of this year’s celebration which was especially poignant because the ashes of a friend were sent up in one of the balloons. Her name was Rebecca Ford, and I met her years ago when she moved to Ajijic. She ended up becoming the partner of a close friend of mine and it was then that I learned that long ago, when I was 19 years old, Rebecca and I had actually been on the same ship together for four months as it sailed around the world. It was the S.S. Ryndam and it carried 500 students of World Campus Afloat. Although I had not known her well then, I remembered her as being the girlfriend of a classmate of mine. What were the chances that we would again meet, 45 years later, in Mexico?
Both Rebecca and I had ended up being world travelers for life, and when she passed away a few months ago, her partner Xill decided that it would be fitting for some of her ashes to be sent off aboard a globo made be fellow artist Daniel de Palma so she could continue her life journey. Rebeccas’s last journey is depicted in the large red globo pictured toward the end of this display and contains the message “Bon Voyage, Rebecca.” May she R.I.P.