Afrika Burn - The Beginning
The thought of going to a burn all began when meeting a seasoned 'burner' In Nepal, and after spending 14 days trekking through the Himalayas with this guy telling me all his wonderful tales of Afrika Burn and Burning Man, I was sold. I was going to Afrika Burn. I was determined to make this happen.
"I won't ever get this opportunity again"
"It's my 30th birthday present to myself"
"I need to experience a real dessert!" I kept telling myself.
Before I knew it, I had booked a flight to Cape Town, purchased 1 ticket to Afrika Burn 2019 and hired a 4 x 4 vehicle for the trip.
I was very fortunate in being invited to be apart of a 'theme camp' called Javanesia, which collectively was made up of a diverse community of 50+ people from 11 different countries, camping together, eating together, working together - to create and provide an all inclusive space for dancing, music, relaxing, meeting people and radically gifting 250 pancakes a day to the people of the dance floor in the mornings.
On my arrival at London Heathrow I was told I would be meeting 4 beautiful strangers who are also part of Javanesia camp and will be hopping in my truck in Cape Town to car share the 5 / 6 hour journey into the dessert!
And 4 beautiful strangers they were...three English, one Finnish and after a week laughing, dancing, and walking the Karoo dessert together, I feel like I've made some wonderful friends.
The first thing you need to tackle is getting there. On the longest stretch of 'road' (in the whole of South Africa - the R355. Arid, Rocky, Sandy dessert road. 113km of it into the deep dessert, with no phone signal, no petrol stations, no roadside assistance and far from any residential areas. This road is notoriously known for 'eating tyres for breakfast' and you are likely to blow a tyre if you drive faster than 50km. It is particularly common to see shredded up tyres on the side of the 'track' and several cars pulled over with blown tyres.
However, myself and the 4 beautiful strangers, (who were quickly becoming beautiful friends) headed on our journey from Cape Town to Tankwa Town at sunrise, so softened any anxiousness of the drive with the spectacular red South African sun rise over the mountains and dessert on the way.
This was still the MOST hectic, intense driving I have ever done in my life - but it was hell'a worth it!
The journey alone to get to Tankwa Town is evidence what a special place it is for those wonderous 7 days - because people make SO MUCH effort just to get there in the first place.
The first day was quiet with people setting up and arriving. A few of us wondered the dessert, taking this surreal world in, seeing what was where, admiring the mind blowing wooden structures and artworks dotted around.
A man had made a giant heart and was trying to erect it on his own ready to burn and sunset, but it was a windy afternoon and it kept falling over. The three of us ran over and tried to help him get it standing, but the frame just wasn't strong enough. My heart broke for him, thinking how he had spent all this time and effort creating this, and getting it here months of preparation - then being unable to burn or even stand his artwork due to the wind. He was in no way mad or frustrated - he just smiled with a soft smile and turned to us and said 'it wasn't meant to be'.
I felt humbled by this mans attitude immediately. He just accepted the situation for what it was and smiled / laughed it off. He was happy he tried and said he learned from the situation. Beautiful.
The sun went down in a dramatically pink sky and night fell. Stars blanketed every where you could see. As you sat on the open air toilets you felt as if you were sitting on a high chair in space. Admiring where you were, not believing you are in reality. Some sort of inter-galactic fantastic dream. The dessert was pitch dark apart from people draped in coloured fairy lights dancing around to a gentle hum of some Tribal-Tech-House music in the distance.
I knew I had made a wonderful decision in coming to this spectacular place. There was something magnetic about it, it lured you in and made me smile from ear to ear.