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From Burning Man to Baja California

MEXICO | Friday, 18 September 2009 | Views [39427] | Comments [1]

Burning Man

Where were we...

This year at burning man I joined the recycle camp with Melvin and Alize (my brother and sister).  We collected and crushed aluminum cans (which are later sold per weight and the money donated to local school).  It was a nice little camp with a fun group of people.  Its so hard to take it all in, even in a week.  There is so much.  Our camp had an art car, a BIG army truck which we would all pill into at the back.  It even had a mast and little turret at the top (pirate ship style) which you could climb up to and view "the playa" (name given to the wide expanse of desert in the middle of the semi circle encampment area.  This area is also the arena for a myriad of artwork, for The Man and The Temple - both buildings are destroyed by fire at the end of the festival).  I managed to find 2 friends whom I know were attending this year.  One past-couchsurfer and another who lives in San Marcos village on Lake Atitlan Guatemala.  Its quite miraculous when you think there were approx. 42,000 people attending this year!  Why go?  Its a very harsh environment (we're talking high altitude desert here!) and recurring sand storms that reduce visibility to less than a few meters, high heat during the day and pretty cold at night.  Well part of the fun IS surviving.  Drinking lots of fluids (not just alcoholic ones!).  Prepping fun foods - actually our camp had a proper kitchen and 2 dedicated volunteer cooks that made nice foods for us throughout the week!  The festival is really an alternative reality.  It lasts long enough to "believe" in it and become immersed into a new culture.  The art is just so creative - I mean there is just so much of it everywhere.  Usually it is aligned to the theme of the year (this year's theme was Evolution) - but not necessarily.  One of the highlights was taking our can collection bike (a twin bicycle with a trailer into which we would collect cans) with a campmate Milana, and going from camp to camp to collect their unwanted aluminium.  Of course, most camps require a compulsory pit stop for a beer or a cocktail mix of some sort.  Needless to say that the end of that afternoon became a little fuzzzzzzzzy! 

The music

Its everywhere!  It usually revolves around Trance, House, something with a beat.  Even art cars have it and they usually choose different music.  They all blast it out....but its fun and pleasing.  some play beegees, others heavy rock, and some even classical.  However there are quite a few "clubs" around the playa with some amazing choices.  The connoisseurs will recognise many DJ names on the line ups and stay up till the late hours of the morning to dance away to their mixes.  One style which I opened myself to was DJ BaseNectar.  Its a Beat heavy in Base.  One of the fun parts is watching him bounce around his DJ booth so energetically!  I stood in front of the speakers - my body was being pushed back and forth a few inches by the speaker vibration!  My ears.....well should not think too much about them in those circumstance.

The burn

Yes....its all about the burn at the end.  Saturday night, sand storm and winds delayed the burn by a few hours (like last year).  No worries because we were all on our Art Car (affectionately called the "hooker cooker"  - not sure entirely why....but part of the story is because it has a huge barbecue on board!).  I was jointly appointed to cook our steaks... that means that amidst the crazyness of the playa that night and the cold the reigned, we had our own central heating aboard!  So we eat gournet steak and potatoes, drank Frank's home brewed beer, chatted and laughed, watched the rainbow of neon, glowsticks, flame throwing, sound making array of vehicles, people, art, and odds and ends which were just happening around us until.......the firework display that precedes the burn, started. The burn was spectacular - such a huge blaze, and the visual effect of the structure around the man was very intense....looked like an inferno!  I returned to the place where the man was a few hours later and all the cinders were still there of course, red hot.  People could meander through gaps on the outer circle of cinders and make their way on the inside....I did just that.  I was now surrounded by red hot glowing cinders around me.....it was awesome.

Melving and Alize left early the next morning (like 5:30AM).  I had gone to bed @ 4AM.  AFter a push and a shove I was REALLY trying hard to get up.  I finally made it so say my goodbyes.  Goodbye.  So thats them gone.  Well since I'm up I should stay up.  I decided to ride out to the temple (burning tonight - Sunday night) and watch the sunrise.  It was rather special and serene!  Then something happened.  I was sitting contemplating, and Blue (she's a professional photographer) asked if she could take pics of me.  She started snapping away with her digital SLR....I took my shirt off and started doing yoga on the playa for her to the pace of the sun-lined horizon.  Thank you Blue - that was a new experience for me!

Burning Man officially ends on Sunday night after the temple burn.  I stayed on till Tuesday morning - to not have to  contend with the exodus of traffic all leaving at the same time.


A few days in Lake Tahoe catching up with Erin and Marisa, our friends from when we lived there last year.  I then drove to Surfside (a beach community near Long Beach, south of Los Angeles) to spend the week-end with Pat, Sue, Eddie and Diva - giant poodle (Pat is my ex-father-in-law......but that's a mouthful; so I refer to them as just my "Outlaws").  Had a very nice time with them, and was refreshed to start my journey down.

Border Crossing and Baja California

DAY 1:

Border Crossing....done in 30mins, got all my stamps, all my visas (mine and Rupert's - Rupert is my car!) and was on my way.  My first objective was to get Rupert's windows tinted, get some privacy to limit onlookers from peering into my car-full-of-stuff.  I made it so Ensenada within 90mins, but after driving around for about 1hour and not really finding what I wanted I carried on.  I noticed a place of interest on the coast called "La Bufadora".  There I met a very nice couple (from California I believe, although they have lived in a lot of places).  Larry and Cheryl were so interesting and from the time we said hi, a few hours had passed in conversation until I realised I wanted to see La Bufadora - a tidewater blowhole that sends water 30m into the air.  After my walk down there I came back and we hung out.  They offered for me to pitch my tent and stay the night.  I did.  They shared their frijoles and nachos.  I shared my dried fruit.  We all shared conversation, music and thoughts.

DAY 2:  I leave after some yoga, more conversation and tea.  I find a place to get my windows tinted (nice job!.....Rupert you look sooo cool now!).  I just had to supplement that by putting a few stickers on him (burning man, morocco & bagel barn for now).  I drove a few hours and stopped to set up camp on a pacific beach 1 hour prior to sunset.  The beach was deserted.  The wind was wisp away sand and form small dunes all along.  I camped in between dunes.  I was my first change to get out my gas stove and make tea and Ramen noodles for dinner.  The stars were so bright tonight.  The tent is sooooo big!  Its a four man tent all for myself!

DAY 3:   After a hot tea on my gas stove (yes very excited to be using it...still!) I set off.  I was not sure how far I would drive today.  The landscape is just amazing.  Valleys full of cactus for miles and miles.  The "typical" ones (the ones that seem to have arms and a head) and many other varieties.  I stopped in Guerrero Negro which had interesting salt marches and beautiful sand dunes formed in the middle of the sea.  This town did not seem to be very touristy so I carried on.  My drive today took my 650km all the way to Mulege.  This town was recommended to me by Larry and Cheryl (and other Mexicans I have met on the way) as the starting point of a string of very beautiful beaches.  I am now on the inside of Baja California - on the Sea of Cortez.  I am not far from the tip of Baja either...its only another 300km to the tip.

DAY 4: Whats been interesting so far is that I have not met that many foreigners.  And all those I have met seem to be retired US.  They all have fascinating stories - and more than half a lifetime of experiences to talk about so this makes for insightful conversation.  I had heard there was a large hurricane in southern Baja about 10 days ago.  Mulege suffered terribly from it!  I am talking right now to a retired (semi!) woman from the states (yup!) - they had just bought a house (cash) in the last year here.  There were on the river bank, and there the water rose 19ft (thats 6m!) only a few days ago, because of all the rain from the hurricane.  They are sitting at the table next to me sipping coffee.  They are in good spirits.  They already have a plan of whats next.  I wish them the best. Hardly anyone died, despite the disastrous going-ons.  Many houses have been damaged, some destroyed.  The streets have a lot of rubble here and there - but it does not look too chaotic.  A lot of businesses are closed probably stilling getting to grips with what has just happened.  The hurricane is over now, the sun is shinning and people are going about what they do.....life goes on.



Just made the Burn to Baja trip myself. I live in Cabo so I'm on the tip and even though there was much devastaion in Mulege and Constitucion the people of the frontera are a tough breed whether foreign or national.

Thanks for the recap of the trip n keep it burning...

  James Glover Sep 18, 2009 1:02 PM

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