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.
Then I arrived.