Do you know what the sole obsession of an event planner is? It’s for everything to go exactly as planned. The worst case scenario would be for the show to still go on. The best is when this planner surpasses her own expectations and manages to have a ball at her own party.
My favorite kind of parties to cook up are surprise ones. The initial look of “happy” shock on the receiver’s face is my ultimate prize, especially if targeted at someone so close to my heart. I am such a people pleaser that way!
Psychological glitches apart, in my opinion surprises are a great way to say thanks, or I love you. Don’t you think?
Two years ago, I plotted a surprise romantic adventure to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. I arranged for Angel and I to go hot air ballooning in the desert near Al Ain with Balloon Adventures Emirates. I teased Angel a little by letting him know that he’s going to have to get up at 3am for it, not much excitement showed on his face at that moment, but I hoped he was going to love the rest of it.
This was right after our belated wedding party, which left us fairly drained from all the planning and family entertaining. I still wanted us to do something for just the two of us to mark the special occasion. It was important to me to know that we’re still able to surprise and engage each other, no matter how long we’ve been married.
“It’s time” I whispered in his ear, as I woke him up early in the morning. He darted a vicious (I want to strangle you to death) look at me at first, then he rearranged his lips into a weak smile.
“You’re not going to make me jump from an airplane, are you?” he whispered back. “No, it’s much better” I replied. He didn’t like the sound of that neither.
This was going to be our second balloon ride together; the first was few years back in Kenya. We flew over the Massai Mara and watched the great wildebeest migration at sunrise. It was as magical as it sounds, and pretty action packed. I worried my little stunt over the bare desert of the UAE won’t compare.
I hadn’t done this before, hence I didn’t really know what to expect. I am sure he’ll forgive me if he totally hated it I thought! I trusted my judgment and prayed that my good intention would count for something!
At least I knew he wasn’t afraid of heights, and that he liked ballooning. That was a good place to start.
It was still very dark when we got to the flight location one hour and a half later. There wasn’t much to see or experience yet. Far away from city lights the desert can be such a disheartening place at that time of the day. Fortunately, haven managed a brief nap on the way; Angel was now in a better shape to work through his excitement.
Alongside the rest of the group, we gathered around the gigantic hollow high flyer flapping in the cold wind, while getting prepped. Like moth to flame, we were drawn closer by the comforting heat bestowed upon us as the gas burner inside our hay air vehicle breathed blistering tongues of fire into the throat of the balloon.
Soon, we got orders. Hop hop, we were hustled into the basket before it headed up without us in it.
In anticipation of further action, we stared at a dim horizon and waited for her majesty, the sun, to grace us with her precious appearance.
Knowing how impatient Angel gets in tight inescapable spaces (i.e. inside an airplane each time we travel), I searched every cell in my brain for jokes, snarks, desert fables, money problems, whatever I could throw at him to keep from fretting. I couldn’t come up with anything interesting quick enough. Thank god he’d brought his own gismo diversion, which distracted him for long enough.
“Here it comes” suddenly yelled the captain. Our attention was redirected at the eastern horizon in steep focus, like it was our powerful will that was going to bring the sun up. We held our breath in for the big reveal.
Finally, it did come up. The light raced towards us, and in a matter of seconds the greatest show of all started. Warm shades of Red, Yellow and Orange danced in the sky, intertwined with feathery clouds and chased the darkness away.
We floated aimlessly over an endless sea of golden sand dunes, while herds of playful camels roamed the mesmerizing landscape hurried by their peppy caretaker.
The place looked nothing like it did a minute ago, it swiftly came alive. I’ve seen lots of desert in my life, but I never knew it looked so beautiful from above.
Guess which event planner was having the surprise of her life now?
“Did you enjoy it?” I asked Angel minutes before landing. Little sparkles of happiness lit up his eyes, “Thank you for loving me so much” he answered.
My inner diva did a little one-two step, screamed “hoyamal” at the top of her lungs, back-flipped then cartwheeled, bowed so low in self-admiration and did the chaturanga before saluting the fresh sun. In my head of course!
Not sure we paid for this part of the trip!
The happiest planning wife in the world 🙂
This turned out to be one of the most romantic things that we’ve ever done. The show went on better than expected, and with it the bar was raise. The question that I am trying to answer for myself today is, how am I going to top that up?
Help! Suggestions would be very much appreciated.
Have you tried hot air ballooning before? where? and how was your experience?