Ajijic’s annual Regatta de Globos, held this past Saturday, is a favorite annual event,. This year’s 2010 Bicentennial event included a huge showing of the hand-made hot air balloons made from tissue paper and was studded with a special patriotic sequence and the announcer called for the tri-color balloons to be prepared to be launched together.
You can count on the Regatta being a casual, good natured and fun afternoon. It’s always held on the Saturday before Independence Day (September 16) in the main Ajijic soccer field.
For weeks before the exhibition, local teams of volunteers spend their evenings gluing sheets of tissue paper together in a variety of designs and shapes to form the unlikely free-sailing vehicles.
At the soccer field, teams use a variety of heat sources, including small fires in clay chimeneas to inflate the colorful balloons. Near the base of each globo, the creators install a simple device to keep the air in the balloon hot enough to encourage it to soar into the sky.
That donut-shaped, kerosene soaked ring of fire is suspended near the opening, and is the cause of the demise of many of these beautiful air-worthy crafts. As the balloons rise, they often encounter small pockets of air currents which cause the globo to tip, tilt, lean and roll.
This momentary instability brings groans of concern from the massed audience – they know what most often happens – it’s the agony of defeat as the fire source comes in contact with the balloon’s fragile inflammable side walls and the craft is destroyed in a poof of black smoke and a burst of flames.
It takes a village to create and launch these behemoth hot air balloons. Above, at left, you can clearly see the individual sheets of tissue paper. We’ve noticed in recent years the additional layers of creativity and skill the teams have been developing -- in both the pattern designs and the shape designs.
There were a multitude of multi-colored globos during the annual Regatta – for this piece we’re featuring the patriotically-themed balloons which were released together as Mexico’s National Anthem boomed from the public address system. The Eagle with a snake in his beak -- Mexico’s National Emblem – is featured – in gold on the balloon at left and center, above. At right, an innovative square balloon didn’t fare well on the launch pad. The damage from this flare was repaired – but when the team attempted to inflate the balloon later, it was totally incinerated before it ever left the ground.
At left: Many of this year’s new designs reminded me of old-fashioned quilt squares. This balloon resembles a puffy pillow from this angle. Viewing at it from the bottom, you can see it in in the shape of a 5-pointed star. In center, the team directs a flow of hot air into an enormous red, white and green tube that carried a message high into the sky. One side proclaimed the Bicentennial. The other (at right) says, “Viva Mexico!”
All, as in all forms of human endeavor, there’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Never is that more clearly demonstrated than in this favorite Ajijic activity. At left, an unusual mushroom tri-color muchroom soars into the sky while in center a wonderfully creative nopal cactus balloon is about to burst into mid-air flame. the crowd was pleased that the red, white and green double pyramid at right was one of the successes – it promotes the event and reads, “Regatta de Globos Viva Mexico!.”