Posted at: 10/09/2012 7:03 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Danielle Flores, KOB.com
The Balloon Fiesta is no stranger to hosting international visitors. There are 550 pilots representing 19 countries this year.
Esteban Elizondo is piloting the Serendipity balloon from Costa Rica, and is participating in the Balloon Fiesta for the first time.
Elizondo said this is something he has always wanted to do. "It's always been a goal for every balloonist this - this is the Mecca of the ballooning world. So, coming here is what everybody that's in the balloon world - it's a dream."
According to Elizondo, his balloon is not just the only one in Costa Rica, it is the one and only balloon in all of Central America. The altitude and climate in the rain forest is not the most ideal climate for ballooning, and said it is nothing like New Mexico.
"It's just gorgeous you know," Elizondo said. "You got the mountains...it's just beautiful. Everything that is so different than where we come from. It's a new way to see things for us."
The entire Costa Rican crew made the nearly 3,000 mile journey. They hope and pray that they will be able to return to Albuquerque.
Juan Carlos is a crew member and said the experience is beyond words.
"It's not enough when you tell people. You have to live it," Carlos explained. "It's a great experience that you have to come here to see it, because otherwise, there is never enough words to describe it."
Elizondo said he hopes this Balloon Fiesta will not be his last. "This is going to be our first of many. We're already counties the days to come next year."
Flags and balloons from all 19 countries represented this year will be on display Wednesday morning, during the "Flight of the Nations" Mass Ascension. It begins at 7 a.m.