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theladyscarlett – writes:

My sixtieth birthday had arrived and I was offered a choice of a party or a hot air balloon ride. For me, it really wasn’t a choice – I have always wanted to take a ride in a hot air balloon.

Dawn is breaking, mist swirling around us. Everywhere, you just hear silence. We all stand around sipping our hot chocolate trying to ward off the early morning chill. Suddenly the quietness is broken, “Sorry folks there will be no ballooning today”. Disappointed, I think it’s just not meant to be today, after all we are taught there is a reason for everything.

Third time lucky. Standing in the field waiting for the balloon to be gassed up and watching it come to life, a feeling creeps up in the pit of my tummy – shear excitement.

Spread out on the field, the balloon starts to come to life steadily; it creeps along the ground filling with air.   What a sight to behold; slowly rising, then it starts to strain against the ropes trying to break free and lift into the blue yonder.

“Ok Ladies”, the voice of the pilot says “Climb in”. The balloon soars into the sky.

Floating high above the ground you look back to earth and everything looks so small.

All too soon my dream ends abruptly, “Hold tight we are about to land”, the voice of the Captain ends it all!  .

We are whisked off to have breakfast, passing a herd of Zebras in the fields along the way. We weave through some Buck, unimpressed by our untimely passing. A flock of peacocks, which seem to be everywhere, screech nervously as we approach.  A protective warden firmly requests, “Please don’t feed the peacocks; Oh, and by the way, there is a hippo on the loose, so don’t wander off on your own”.

At last the food arrives! With the thrill of the balloon ride, all had forgotten that they were quite hungry! What a lovely spread, was set before us.

As I turned my head to talk to the lady next to me, a peacock suddenly sneaks in between us and steals the bun right off my plate.  Everyone burst out laughing.

On finishing my breakfast, I spot a baby Giraffe grazing in the field below, so wander off to get a closer look.  Standing in the field and caught up in the moment of watching the baby Giraffe, I sense something behind me chomping away at the grass. My heart missed a beat as my first thought was, Hippo!  Then quite unexpectedly I feel a breath on the back of my neck. Out of the corner of my left eye I can see people, up at the Lapa, waving at me, trying to warn me not to move.

Suddenly the most amazing thing happens, a large mamma Giraffe lowers her head over my shoulder, chewing away. I can see those huge eyes and long eye lashes and an equally long purple tongue. Frozen on the spot I hold my breath, because I’ve read that if a Giraffe decides to butt you, they are capable of snapping your neck. If she does that I’m a goner, I thought, terrified.

Then, although I don’t know why, I say softly, “Hello”. She stops chewing and surrounded by nothing but stillness, lifts her head and walks over to her baby.

I heaved a sigh of deep relief and trying not to rush, made my way back to the Lapa at a brisk pace, thanking God for His protection as I did so.

I felt such gratitude for my gift – what an experience!