The Fifth Dimension Said It First

 A few years back, Barack Obama entered many people’s lives and gave them a renewed sense of hope and “Yes, we can”-ishness.

For me, this week, a taxi driver named Kadir was our Turkish Obama.

The backstory is that, although we generally use mini-buses for transport around Cappadocia, we do occasionally rely on taxis to get from the village of Goreme to our home village of Ortahisar.  The mini-buses stop running fairly early in the day, so any time we’ve been in Goreme hanging with friends or eating at preferred restaurants in the evening, we have to take a cab home.

Our favorite driver is named Kadir–he’s pals with our friend Christina, never overcharges, always plays dance music instead of the wailing Turkish stuff on the radio, and has enough English (thanks to working on a hot air ballooning crew and picking it up from the tourists) that we don’t have to sit in silence the entire drive back to the village.  Simply put, we like us some Kadir, even though we don’t see him all that often.

It came as a surprise last week, then, when I set out for a sunset run up the hill from our village and suddenly ran into him.  He and his fellow balloon crew were standing on an overlook, eating potato bread, watching one of their company’s pilots fulfill the request of a “special client.”  What this client wanted was to be landed on the terrace of his house, in the balloon basket, as the sun went down. 

Amazed that such a feat is even possible, I stood with Kadir and his fellows, watching the landing.  As we stood, Kadir asked if I’d done a balloon flight since being in Cappadocia.  I told him no, that I’d love to, but the cost (a little over $200 per person for a low-end flight and upwards of $325 for a deluxe flight) was too high for our income.

“You can come for free with us.  I am working very hard for the next six days, but then I will be taking up some pilots with new licenses.  They need the hours in the air.  You give me your phone number, and I will call you when they go up.  We will need extra kilograms in the basket,” Kadir told me, in an unexpected moment of Yes, You Can.

Jumping around and clapping wildly, which is one of my lesser-known talents, I asked if they would need even more kilograms, in the form of a ten-year-old girl who lives with me and who really, really has been wanting to go on a flight. 

“Sure.  Two people.  I call you next week.”

My run that evening was particularly joyous, and Allegra was completely excited when I got home and told her about the conversation. When she wondered why he would extend such an offer, I could only posit, “Well, every time I get in his taxi, I ask about his kids and compliment him on his taste in Britney Spears tunes; maybe that’s all it takes.”

Maybe five days later, Kadir called and told us to be at the balloon company’s office the next morning at 6 a.m.  When we got there, we were given tea and cookies, stuffed into the enclosed trailer part of the truck pulling the basket and balloon (which made us feel like we were attempting to enter a new country illegally), and stuck in the company of two Japanese tourists who seem to have “made a connection” with one of the pilots working for the company.  Standing in a clearing at sunrise, watching the crew assemble and inflate the balloon was treat enough.

Two hours up in the balloon–with only six passengers and the two pilots instead of the usual twenty-four passengers for an hour–moved the experience from “treat” to “Obama.”  Yes, we could.  Yes, we did.

Cappadocia is one of the world’s top ten ballooning areas; I hope the photos in the slide show below help explain why.

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10 Responses to The Fifth Dimension Said It First

  1. Michael says:

    Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
    Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
    We could float among the stars together, you and I
    For we can fly we can fly
    Up, up and away
    My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
    The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
    It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
    We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
    For we can fly we can fly
    Up, up and away
    My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
    Suspended under a twilight canopy
    We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us
    If by some chance you find yourself loving me
    We’ll find a cloud to hide us
    We’ll keep the moon beside us
    Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
    Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
    If you’ll hold my hand we’ll chase your dream across the sky
    For we can fly we can fly
    Up, up and away
    My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
    Up, up, and away…..

  2. Bob says:

    Awesome! color me envious.

  3. kmkat says:

    1. Perhaps Kadir is just a really nice, generous person?
    B. I gasped at the first photo that showed ALL THOSE BALLOONS!
    iii. What a great experience! (although I might have hesitated knowing that the pilot(s) were such beginners — glad you didn’t, though)

  4. rcazares56 says:

    Wow, spectacular! What stories she will have for her classmates next year. Just goes to show, it pays to be kind, even to taxi drivers!

  5. geewits says:

    That was great! I was nervous at first, but I let go and just enjoyed.

  6. I just sat here and sang aloud, Up, Up, and Away. And I have chills. Chills, I tell you. Best pictures all feature Allegra!

  7. Julio says:

    Wow! I am speechless! What an amazing adventure.

  8. Steve says:

    I am breathless just thinking about it. I have to check out your FB pictures more carefully now. This is like the coolest ever, dude.

  9. James and Eileen says:

    Wow….that is just so cool!

  10. lime says:

    wow! what a fantastic opportunity! i think maybe for allegra it might make up for some of the more boring times sitting in the presence of grownups while looking for housing. at least i hope so. gorgeous pictures!

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