I arrived at Burning Man during one of the Black Rock Desert’s daily sandstorms just as the sun had set beyond the mountains that cradle the playa. After I found my way to my camp, I headed straight for the reason why thousands of people descend on this place each year: The man. In less than a week this man would be transformed into the ‘burning man’ and a ritual of self discovery and creativity will have come to a close for another year.
Creativity explodes in all directions along the ‘streets’ of Black Rock City. During a bicycle ride I stumbled across a ramshackle wooden booth with two chairs and a sign in large letters: Advice. I sat down and waited. Within the space of 60 minutes I had given advice to seven different people, from a guy who was struggling with the break up of his relationship to a young lady who wanted to know if she should tell her boyfriend that she loved him. Each person knew I wasn’t qualified to answer these intimate questions; however, the fact that I listened and offered some suggestions seemed to make it a worthwhile experience for them. If you are wondering, I told the lady that telling her boyfriend of four weeks that she loved him was probably a bit premature…
The Department of Mutant Vehicle (DMV) will see you now! At Burning Man you are not allowed to drive a car unless it is registered with the DMV. In order to register with the DMV the car has to look as ludicrous as possible and serve two primary functions. Firstly it has to go under a certain speed limit and secondly it has to be as creative as possible. I caught this car in a moment of calmness. Only a few moments before it was jam packed with people, but it brokedown and the owner was off in the distance looking for a trained mechanic to fix it.
Burning Man has an unfortunate reputation of being a place for hippies and drug users. I think this is unfair and dismisses the amazing creative energy that is on display. The art is truly fascinating and made that much more powerful by the desert scenery surrounding it. This one word, Love, was ever present at Burning Man, its presence being one of the highlights of my stay. Is one of the main reasons to spend one week of your life in the middle of the desert. I hope to be able to bring the feeling of love back with me to the real world.
Photos: Leon Logothetis
- Nat Geo Expeditions