Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back from the Burn!

Karate CHOP! We're back from Burning Man!

On the first day after I got back, Russ asked me how it was and I said something along the lines of "great, horrible, wonderful, challenging, amazing..."

You get the picture. It was a lot of things.

Let me begin by putting on my weather-girl hat. Did you guys hear about the duststorms out there? At worst, we had winds up to 30mph out there. And the temperatures ranged from 95 during the day to 36 at night. No wonder our bodies have taken a while to recover.

The playa (the dried lake bed on which the whole event is set up) was soft this year -- normally, it's hard enough to ride your bike on. This year, even the most expert rider bit it HARD, after a surprise encounter with a particularly soft patch. And those renegade soft patches were everywhere. While that meant I built up some wicked thigh muscles, it also meant that when the wind picked up, it kicked up an awful lot of dust... much dust that the sun often looked like a tiny pinhole God was shining a flashlight through.

It was even storming on the night we drove in. Here I slammed the bell that only first-timers ring; it wasn't snowing. That's dust.

I thought I'd show you what our camp looked like, built primarily by Brendan, and his friends Garland and David all on their lonesome! Thanks to all my camp members for sharing their photos! My camera went missing on the third day so I don't have many photos (it reappeared at the end of the trip thank Goodness).

Our camp consisted of two geodesic domes, the larger of which was dubbed the "Freedome" in honour of this year's theme at BM, "The American Dream". Bren made this awesome sign out of an old American flag.

We often heard people riding or walking by our dome, yelling "Freeeeeeeedome!". It always made us smile.

Step inside the dome, and the harsh desert slipped away once your eyes feasted on our majestic bedouin-ish lounge, complete with billowing curtains, beaded lanterns and hand-covered (well done design team!) futons and cushions upon which to rest your weary dust-blanketed bones. If you were lucky, one of us would come and wipe your feet with baby wipes and rub them with lotion. We often had strangers stopping by, drawn in by the cool sign, and the gorgeous decor. Just looking at this photo now makes me go "aaaah!". So relaxing.

The lanterns were my favorite.

The larger dome was intended to serve as our "public" dome, where we would teach improv, bellydance and yoga classes. We ended up taking refuge from the storms in here a lot, spending our time painting, reading and having henna applied to us by Graham, our resident Buddhist henna specialist. :)

The design team (Elena & Summer) even made an altar where we could place a symbol of our beliefs. I brought my favorite cross (it normally hangs over my other favorite, the stove!), and I wrote down a verse that appeared in my devotional on a tough morning: "Do not dwell on the past... See I am doing a new thing!".

The smaller dome became the costume dome. Unfortunately, before it could do that, it actually TOOK OFF in one of the duststorms, and (eeeeks!) punctured the windshield of our neighbour's car. I'm telling ya: those winds weren't messing around.

I was honoured to be one third of the Food Committee, which was responsible for planning, buying food for and preparing nearly all the meals (Bren made his signature amazing pancakes on the last day... my favorite was the peanut butter-chocolate variety!). Yorron and Lisa, the remaining two-thirds of the Food Committe turned the 24' truck we used into an astonishingly organized and efficient kitchen... which was really important since we were cooking for 30 people!

The biggest team effort however, was putting up the massive shade structure that would protect our individual tents from the harsh rays. We bought a hot air balloon top, and the guys ripped holes in it to keep it from flying away. Then they pulled it atop the 15-foot wooden tower they had built, whilst we held it down and kept it from flying away. You really start to understand how powerful hot air balloons are; it took all our strength, in addition to several pieces of rebar and some amazing pole-structure-thingies our friend Mace built, to keep this top from flying away.

Well that's it for infrastructure. More interesting emotional stuff to come!



Kir said...

wow it looks amazing...every year i want to make the trek out there and every year i don't. maybe next time. can't wait to hear about your other emotional adventures!

Sasafras said...

Man, I have been so busy lately and barely even have time to email folks, but I did just check out your blog and I am so amazed at space that you created in the desert.
I can't wait to see more...and I can't wait to see you both very soon.
love sarah

all text and photographs on aartilla the fun © 2005-2009 Aarti Sequeira unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.