“There was this wooden temple where everyone went to let go of their hurt. At the end of the week, the walls were jam packed with love notes to lost ones and forgiveness notes to themselves. I was moved to tears by the end of it."
It’s about 1am in the morning. We’re all tired, hungry and can’t see past all of the dust blowing around us. We are greeted with flames and amazing dressed up creatures and are instructed to get out the car and roll in the dust screaming: “I’m not a virgin anymore!”
We set up our temporary village in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, so excited to see what the place looked like in the day. They say it’s the largest temporary city in the world and city is exactly the word I’d use to describe it. The place spanned for miles and in the whole week we were there, we probably only saw a ¼ of the place. You need bicycles to get anywhere, Burning Man’s version of cars I guess.
And then there’s the art cars; these are the most amazing contraptions that consist of huge mutant vehicles which have been decked out in lights and decorations and couches and DJs and can hold about 100 people. They drive out into the desert with crowds of people following the music, pretty spectacular really!
We would spend the day dressing up in amazing outfits and biking through the 'streets', stopping off at all these little tents where there would be activities in exchange for gifts. We stopped at a tent offering out tequila snow cones in exchange for showing your best dance moves, and places handing out love potion or words of wisdom, oh and a hugging booth!
Venturing further into the desert you end up stumbling across some of the most amazing art pieces. They built a wooden temple where everyone went to let go of their hurt. At the end of the week the walls are jam packed with love notes to lost ones and forgiveness notes to themselves and I was moved to tears by the end of it. On the very last night they burn the temple, everyone gathers around to let go of all of their hurt, it’s an incredibly emotional experience.
The nighttime is an even more magical experience. Everything is lit up with neon lights and you can venture from stage to stage listening to whatever your heart desires.
There was this moment one afternoon when we were heading out to the critical tits parade (a bunch of women biking around the desert expressing their freedom) biking through what we thought was just a white out, you could only see a metre or so in front of you and the dust storm just kept getting worse and worse to the point we all had to stop and hold on to one another otherwise we would have lost each other and we turned and looked to the left and there was this incredible chapel statue there in the middle of nowhere with someone playing the organ. We ventured in and sat on the pews and waited out the dust storm here.
This is the most beautiful place on earth, the sunrises over the desert and the sunsets whilst watching the man burn, and even though every ounce of me was covered in dust (everyone’s hair had turned some shade of grey by the end of it) and I hadn’t had a proper shower in a week, It was the most moving and spectacular experience I could have asked for.
Emma Mitchell is a New Zealander currently based in Berlin, Germany. She has lived in New York, travelled extensively throughout America and is currently planning to explore as much of Europe as she can. Next stop, Amsterdam!
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