This part is familiar. I‘d done it before. Many times. 12 gallons of water. 16 oz. of instant coffee. 32 pairs of socks. Four packages of baby wipes. Chapstick. Lotion. Earplugs. A headlamp. A backup headlamp. A backup headlamp for the backup headlamp. Three times as many batteries as I’ll actually use.
I’m no stranger to Black Rock City, but for AfrikaBurn — the largest of more than 60 official Burning Man Regional Events worldwide — I was a newbie.
I’d spent the last 24 hours getting repeatedly lost driving on what had, until this point in my life, been the wrong side of the road. Armed with a cartoonish tourist map exclusively highlighting a particular brand of petrol station, I explored Cape Town in a rental van covered in what any upstanding member of South African society would consider an offensive paint job. In the 24 hours since landing, I’d put a decade of Burning Man experience to the test — acquiring all the gear and just-add-water sundries I couldn’t cram into my two carry on bags, quickly realizing the jet lag wasn’t helping me get a grasp on the currency exchange rate. And here I had thought packing all of my gear into six large tote bins over the course of a month was challenging.
Now it’s go time.
Time for the dawn alarm clock. For last minute packing. For the best laid plans turned fuck-it-just-shove-it-in-there. For the list of things I know I’d forgotten and need to get along the way but never actually get around to writing down. And then the drive. The long drive. The long. hot. dusty. drive. into. the desert. HWY 447 in Nevada is a walk in the park compared to the R355. Your muscles ache from gripping the steering wheel after the second hour of washboard dirt road.
A Shout Out by Afrika Burn to the Global Burner Community
South Africa’s Afrika Burn 2015 would love for Burners worldwide to get involved in a very special transformational project. Project team members Verity Maud and Lauren Clifford-Holmes write us with a call for participation:
Metamorphosis: A temple for change
Metamorphosis is a temple of transformation being built for the AfrikaBurn 2015 event in South Africa. It is, however, much more than just an art project – it is a social project for change with a vision to facilitate mass metamorphosis at the Burn; within ourselves and within our home communities.
The temple will be built for and burned at AfrikaBurn, but the journey of Metamorphosis will live on through all those involved in making the art piece a reality and all those that reveled in it. Personal journeys of transformation will be shared with others, helping to teach and inspire through our website.
Our first request to the global Burn community is that you share your stories of transformation on our website. These stories will be printed and incorporated into the structure of the temple and the most inspirational stories will be made into an e-book following the Burn and shared with all our contributors.
We also want to take the movement for change beyond the microcosm of the Burn by inspiring practical and real transformation in our home communities. To this end we are going to be upskilling workers from underprivileged communities by getting them involved in the building of Metamorphosis – the perfect opportunity to learn to work with carpentry tools and metal from some experienced builders. The vision is to empower underprivileged people, uplifting their self-esteem, their connection to life and their belief that they are important enough to dream big.
After the Burn we are revamping the incredibly dilapidated Home of Hope in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. The home is a place of safety for women rescued from prostitution and human trafficking. All our leftover funds, materials and energy will be going towards ensuring these women have a comfortable and safe environment to live in.
AfrikaBurn and The Temple
Our intention is that Metamorphosis will be the most powerful temple space South African Burners have ever experienced. We want it to be a space that helps centre participants in the culture of consciousness we value at the Burn. Last year was the biggest AfrikaBurn yet – it is beautiful to see the community growing! However, some of the essence of the Burn can be lost as we grow and find our feet. This year the temple will be in the centre of the playa – we believe here it can serve as a constant reminder of the best, most loving principals of the Burn.
The temple is made of eight butterfly wings and will stand at eight meters high. In numerology, eight signifies both building and destruction. Temples are places to do just that – places where we can destroy unhealthy patterns and build new ones. The wings symbolize freedom, flight, and metamorphosis. The wings are supported by four gateways, facing the cardinal points, which bear symbols of the four elements: wind, water, fire and air. From the center, a cut crystal chandelier will hang from a flower of life, casting prism rainbows around the space.
In addition to the temple being a quiet place for personal reflection, we are calling on artists, musicians, dancers and facilitators to use the space for conscious activity during the course of AfrikaBurn. We envision morning meditations, musical gatherings, weddings and other conscious ceremonies being held here.
The Metamorphosis project is being headed up by Verity Maud who has been involved with AfrikaBurn since it began. She runs an interior design business and works in the personal transformation arena by facilitating creativity workshops called The Artery, which encourages and enables people to connect deeply to their own creative life force.
We are relying on the donations and participation of our community to realise this dream. It is a mammoth undertaking to build a structure of this size, transport materials from our building base of Johannesburg to the Karoo, and construct it in the desert. You too can be part of sharing this gift with AfrikaBurn.
The Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa has given us a grant for this project, which is a huge vote of confidence! However we need to raise an additional R120 000 – around $12 000 – to make the project happen.