Thoughts on the Man

Thursday, September 13th, 2007 | adventure, burning man

I flew back from the desert a week ago, and I have finally caught up enough to be able to jot down a few words about my adventures. To say that Burning Man is crazy is glazing over it a little. My experiences were both bad and good, but I’d rather focus on the good bits – which were, in a word, amazing.

I think the first two things you notice are the heat and the dust. Now I know everyone says this, but really you can’t imagine just how hot and just how dusty until you get there.

In order to acclimatise ourselves to the heat before we got there, we turned the air-con off whilst driving through the entrance to Black Rock City. And a short while later, having lost a couple of pints of water each, we turned it back on again. What were we thinking?! My first day camped was a horrendous day of dehydration and heat stroke. I gulped down water like there was no tomorrow, and yet it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. I fluctuated between feeling faint, sick and quite oddly happy. Still, lots of Gatoraid, some rehydration powder and a snooze in some shade did the trick and by twilight Tom and I were wandering around the Playa.

The dust, well that’s just freeky. It gets everywhere. I mean, you think it’s got everywhere and then you have a white out and you realise that, impossibly, there are more places for it to get. We returned back to camp to find our tent covered in a layer or two of the plaster fine dust, unfortunately on the inside. It’s alkaline and so it really hurts your feet and hands if you don’t take care of them. Fortunately washing in vinegar does the trick. So yes, I did bathe my hands and feet in vinegar and yes, it felt perfectly normal. Course, you won’t find me hanging around near chippy’s now – it was a “strictly in the desert” thing.

The sky – wow now there’s a sight. From the mountains on one side, to the mountains on the other, sky is all there is above you. Bright blue with clouds you can spend hours finding the shapes in, and at night there are so very, very many stars. So many, in fact, that you can see the stars between the stars and have this awe inspiring realisation of the galaxies beyond. After that it got a bit Stephen Hawking and I had to look at all the neon lights instead.

But enough of trying to explain it. You need to see it to believe it. But here are some memories, in no particular order as, to be honest, I can’t remember what happened on which day. I blame the lack of sleep!

Vodka and red bulls whilst putting up tents, and a sip of bloody mary that actually tasted good.
That fine, fine mist of water sprays that is both startling and deliciously cold.
Break beats by the temple, a flame thrower over the dance floor.
The monkeys, a beautiful installation, some would say the best.
Crazy golf at night on the Playa.
Dance, Dance Immolation, which I never got to try out.
Roller skating during a white out.
Tying down a parachute whilst the desert blows in.
Rain on the Playa.
Tarot cards and ice cold home made red wine.
Watching the pretty lights, and standing with your friends gazing up at the stars, giggling.
Trampolines at 4am.
Watching the sun come up on theatre seats on the Esplanade.
Ice, ice, cold lemonade.
Spikes Bar, a happy Joh.
A lazy afternoon in hammocks.
The man, who burnt quietly.
The oil rig, exploding against the night sky and seemed to shake the world.
Walking for an hour and a half across the desert, without really noticing.
The Sapphire Portal, sitting down realising it was well worth the walk.
Porta potties that sang “happy birthday”.
My boy, taking my hand and smiling at me, whilst inside my head I cry “We’re in the desert! And right now it is just beautiful!”

I’ve spent a few nights dreaming of the desert, I suspect there’ll be many more. And I know I will go back.

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