Part 1... About Burning Man
Each year at the end of August a community of 45,000 artists, musicians, eco-warriors, children, bankers, drag queens, inventors, locksmiths, bakers, candlestick makers (anyone with a heart to share and spirit to play), descends on a quiet Nevada playa* to build Black Rock City... and then tear it down 1 week later (*a playa is the desert earth we doeth tread; a prehistoric alkaline lake bed to be precise).
The Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA is where my six-month travelling odyssey down the Americas begins. Why Nevada? Why the desert? Two words: Burning Man - the global mother of all festivals.
Now the name doesn't do wonders for witches or those with a rampant fear of fire, I agree, but let me tell you, when I hear those two words I'm filled with utter joy and a comforting bliss no other place on earth has done for me yet. It's a reminder of home, a place where money has no value and running free is the name of the game.
Art installations spotted around a fairly barren desert landscape take you both back to your childhood and into the future at the same time. The thing is, trying to describe this festival is somewhat of a futile endeavour; anyone who's ever been has sprouted the words ‘it's hard to explain' and almost as many have said ‘it's a life changing' experience. Burning Man is just one of those magical places that you have to see and live, in order to believe and appreciate.
The spirit of Burning Man lies in its gifting economy; participation and volunteering are a part of your every day play. Cash doesn't count here. You have got to bring your week long supplies of food and water if you want to survive. It has been said if you were to walk into the Nevada Desert with nothing more than the hair on your head near the end of August you will come out trumps from the generosity and survival skills of ‘burners' - people ‘dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance'.