If it had been the script for a movie it would have been dismissed as to unlikely to be true: a movie director, a photomodel, a math student & world champion juggling, a spiritual healer, a hippie whose car had broken down on the way to Burning Man, an amazing social media organizer and a random guy. And me, and all of us in the campervan / RV traveling eastbound out of Burning Man.
I had seen my last Burning Man sunrise of 2011, packed my stuff and driven the 30 kilo backpack on my bicycle through the dessert across the Burning Man playa and had arrived at the campervan at 08.00. We were scheduled to leave at noon and by now it was past 16.00 hrs and we still hadn’t moved because one person was missing. We had been waiting inside the campervan in the smoldering heat of the Nevada desert with sand storms beating the car. Despite the “somewhat eclectic” mix of people tensions were high. Was there any truth in the rumours of a car crash that blocked the road? Should we stay another night to enjoy Burning Man? Most people wanted to leave and just in time the last person hopped on board and we departed. We drove for half an hour until we hit the traffic jam and soon we were realised that we would be stuck for at least another 5 hours. At least we were moving.
During the wait in the traffic jam, people regularly hopped out of the car and chatted with their neighbours, watched kites in the sky or just stretched their legs. The “random guy” had hopped out for a long time. We asked him to stay in the car, but to no avail. Just before the campervan left the desert, he hopped out to see some friends behind us in the traffic jam. We never saw him again and all his stuff was in the car.
And so started our road trip. Europeans often make fun of the geographical knowledge of Americans (“Belgium, is that the capital of The Netherlands?”), but I had no clue how far the drive to Austin (my next destination) was going to be. The answer was: long. But during the days our eclectic group spend together we had an amazing time. To be frank: my world is very different from the world of a healer. I don’t see crystals in light beams with my bare eyes. I don’t feel magnetic flows radiating of mountains. He does and he’s an amazing guy. A world champion juggeling with a background in math is a totally different story. We spend countless hours brainstorming about iPhone apps, internet startups and patterns in throwing juggeling balls. A photomodel is not the typical person I hang out with, but she did brighten up our days. The owner of the car is a movie director, artist and photomodel too. She had the tough job of keeping us all sane and get the campervan / RV home in one piece.
To many things happened on that trip to recount here: we enjoyed the amazing decoration of the camper, we lost and found an alive three legged cat, swam in a gorgeous lake in the middle of the desert mountains, saw the most amazing sunset next to the Grand Canyon, etc. etc. A worthy continuation of Burning Man.
At the same time there were many sad stories: “do you have any brothers and sisters?” “yes, three and they’re all dead”. “If I don’t arrive back in time for work I will lose my job, I don’t have any savings and my parents don’t support me”. After I had left the campervan, I went on a 23 hrs busride from Alburquerque to Austin. More sadness. From the creative joyful white people of Burning Man to the harsh reality of American poverty (I definitely was the only one who had chosen the bus because I preferred it to flying). My fellow riders on this tour were immigrants and disillusioned consumers.
Reality had biten hard, but it wasn’t able to wash out the memories of Burning Man. I’ll be there again in 2012, let me know if you want to join.