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December 2nd 2013
Published: December 2nd 2013
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We got up at 5:00am. The sky was clear for the first time. We've had rain all day every day so far. We bundled up, because it would be cold. We were going up in a hot air balloon. The company feeds you breakfast and then drives you to the launch site. The balloons are half filled and in the pre dawn light the fires filling the balloons makes the whole balloon glow. We quickly climb the woven basket and jump inside. I had not planned to do this, but it became irresistible once we were here. The lift off is almost unnoticeable, and then you are away. We had been at the edge of Love Valley so within seconds we were amongst the columns. The pilot drops down almost to the valley floor columns rising just feet from the balloon. You can reach out to the tree top and pluck a twig, a flower in the right season. We drift with the wind and then lift to fly high above the whole valley just as the sun breaks through low ling cloud to make the sky brilliant. There are 30 or so other balloons floating gently with you making an unforgettable picture in the sky. The pilot takes us down again to glide close above the city and almost brushing the last ridge as we move past to float above another valley. The sun is catching the cones and spires and rock faces, everything glows. The silence is only broken by the flare of the balloon fire. I tell Jacob that I want to quit my job and become a pilot, he tells me to wait until I retire. The pictures won't begin to tell how wonderful this ride was, finished with champagne.

We arrived back at the hotel in time for a second breakfast and then it was off to the natural castle, another carved gigantic outcropping on the top of the hill. On our way back we stopped to see a carpet making school and store. They weave with cotton, wool and silk. They spin their own silk in house, and the woman learn to dye and spin and prepare cotton and wool as well. We are allowed to try making a knot in the rug that they are working on. Watching the woman hands move so quickly, we all feel very awkward. Next, we move on to see the rugs. We are offered tea and wine and spread out on the wall bench of a large room. The owner starts with explaining that natural dyes change colour with the direction it is viewed and his men flip the carpet to demonstrate. We see patterns from Cappodicia, the east, the west. We see wool and then cotton mixes. Some rugs are made by their students some are dowery rugs made by woman 90 years ago, barely worn since they are used only for guests. We see the light stream through one of there silk rugs, because they use a white moth that produces a very translucent silk. We see their silk rugs. There are now 5 layers of rugs laid out in this huge room and they will slowly remove rug by rug for you to decide if you would like one. I did. I was escorted into a different room and then the process started again. I wanted certain colours and patterns, they brought me different examples. I eliminated some, they brought more. They brought me rugs outside my price range. I picked two and then realized that I was getting crazy. I asked to see more, but back in the price range I'd asked for. I picked one, but the expensive one I had wanted was still in the room. He offered me both. I laughed. He offered me the first one reduced by 1500$. I took it and cried. It might even get home by Christmas. Hard to believe, but it was just the end of morning so we went for lunch and then had our first free time. We wandered the shops a bit before heading back to the hotel for a rest before supper. It was a day of once in a lifetime experiences.
Good Night and Sweet Dreams

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