Thursday, 19 September 2013

And Now The Days Start To Meld Together

By my notes, it would have been Tuesday when we woke up on the playa for the first time.

(And may I just say that all of a sudden the "Frosted Lucky Charms" jingle is in my head?  From... nowhere?  Frosted Lucky Charms, they're magically delicious!  What is happening????  Ok.  Anyway)

We woke up that morning and peeked out the window and this massive art car had pulled up next to us.  It was these gorgeously styled metal hard core horses.  I wondered if perhaps we'd accidentally taken their camp and I didn't want to have upset anyone.

I wandered over to the (freshly cleaned, woo hoo!) portapotties and on the way back I asked a ranger (the Burning Man helpers/peace keepers) if we were ok to camp where we were.  They said that any reserved spots that were empty as of last night at 10pm were open to anyone and that we were ok to be in that spot (we'd gotten to it well past midnight.)

But we still weren't sure and I suggested to Connor that he talk to the guys I saw sitting on the car but then I figured, what the heck, I should just go talk to them myself.

And so I did.  I went over to these handsomely drunk and dusty men and, you know what?  They were pretty nice.  Sort of.

One of them sort of half ignored me and made some comment I didn't really hear and then the other, who I was already falling madly in love with, said he'd give me a half truthful answer and that yes, we were fine there, no problem.  And his smile was gentle and so I said thanks, told our gang and we started to unpack.

Which felt like rather a disaster.

It was so hot and dry.  I mean, they tell you as much, but you don't know it until you feel it.  It's completely energy sapping.  Especially coming from someone who lives where I do.  Where even when it's hot, there's at least moisture around.  And water nearby.  So even when it's hot here it's not like it was there.  Like I say, energy sapping.

I've been to hot places before, but never a desert.  (Well, other than parts of the Okanagan... but there's lakes there.)  And there was the elevation too.  I live at sea level.  This was nearly four thousand feet up.

I would be doing something, helping set up the shade shelter I'd bought (thank goodness I did buy that) and then I'd be dizzy and would have to sit down.  I did my best to keep drinking and be aware of the sun, but I'd not be able to do more than ten minutes before I'd need to sit for five.

My body definitely knew we were somewhere different.

I helped set up the girls' tent (I had my own) and the shade shelter and then I went off to try to meet my co-worker.

I realized once I got close to where he'd told me to meet him that I really didn't know where I was supposed to be.  So I sat and looked at the Man, amazed at how big it was, and just as I was about to give up, he rolled up on his bike.

He says I wasn't near where we were supposed to meet, but that he'd remembered me saying I made a tutu (it was Tutu Tuesday after all!) and so that's how he found me.

It was really nice to see a friendly face, but I felt like I didn't know quite what to say. 

I didn't know what I felt, and he asked me, how was I feeling, how did it all seem?  I wasn't overwhelmed.  (I'd really thought I was going to be.)  I wasn't impressed... or feeling anything in particular really just very " . . . "  unsure.  No comment.

He came back to our camp with me and told me where his is and then left to go to the DMV to register his small art car.  (That's the Department of Mutant Vehicles, by the way.  Heh.)  It was really nice to see him and he said, as we biked, that it was impossible to explain Burning Man to people.  That it was something you had to go to to understand.

I'm super happy he was there.

Back at camp, I joined back in setting things up.  Like my tent that we couldn't find.  (Hello mild panic... but we found it eventually.)

I got hot.

I'd met my friend at 10am, so it was probably 11 by the time I noticed I was too hot.

I did my best to keep drinking, but like I said, I would get suddenly sort of dizzy and need to sit down.  And every time I'd stand up I'd get the "stood up too quickly" spins.  I think that was most likely the elevation.

As we were working, we'd see people going by wearing tutus.  It was fun.  Tutus!  Yay!

By somewhere around mid day I was uncomfortably hot.  Like, red-faced hot.

I changed from my top and shorts into the sarong I'd brought.  (I wear one at home all summer)

It was too hot.

I tried wearing cooler clothes.  I tried soaking things in water and putting them on me.  Connor brought out his mini fan.

I was too hot.

It felt like my body was revving too high, revving in the reds and I had no way of bringing it down.

I realized I didn't remember having a "lunch"... had I maybe eaten one of the cured sausages we'd brought?  And I'd had water.  And electrolyte-filled water.  And gatorade (which tastes gross at home, but good on the playa) and I sat in my so-glad-I-bought-it-anti-gravity-recliner-lawn-chair and watched the scenery.  Art cars driving by.  People walking by.

I don't know how most of the afternoon went, but by dark, I was feeling exhausted, but cooler.  Ish.

My co-campers wanted to go out and about but I just wanted to stay and sleep.

I watched the nightlife for a while and then decided to let my poor body rest.  I went into my tent to get ready for bed, but the tent I'd so carefully selected to have no ventilation (to keep the dust out) was now too hot and way way too stuffy for me to sleep in.  I went to the RV, thinking it would be cooler, and knowing that Connor would understand if I told him I just needed to crash somewhere cool but it was too hot and stuffy too.  (I think that's when I realized that more than having a cool sleeping spot, I need to have air flow in my sleeping spot.)

I kind of panicked.  It was too hot in my tent.  I couldn't breathe or be in there.  It was too hot in the RV.  How was I going to sleep?  What was I going to do?  It was only the first day?  I was supposed to be here til Monday?  How was I going to do this?

But I talked myself down from that panic and I ended up grabbing my goggles, a dust mask, and a blanket from my tent.  I lay the recliner chair all the way back, popped in my earplugs and dozed off for a few minutes at a time.

At some point, the massive art car across from us turned on its loud, beat-heavy dance music and blindingly bright flashy lights.  And then the other metal horse art car put on its music too.  Somehow this didn't bother me.

I was cool enough to be catching some nap time, and I was resting.

This was Burning Man.  I figured that if I had to sleep out all week with earplugs in, a dust mask and goggles on, at least I was there.  And that was fine.

And my awesome napping skills came in handy.  I wouldn't say it was a deep sleep I had, but there was certainly some resting.

At who knows what in the morning, my camp-mates returned (less than sober, but still adorable) and found a note on the RV that Jay had left for me.

I must have slept through him coming by, and he must not have seen me, all wrapped up under our shade structure with its solar powered lights and decorations, but I was happy, I think, to have heard from him.

I stared at the note for a while.  He'd signed it "love, Jay xoxo"

What did I think of that, after all I'd gone through the weekend before we left?

Not sure.  But it was a relief to know he'd found us.  He was relieved too.  Last he'd heard (via my texting him) before he lost cell service was that we were stuck in Oregon for repairs.  He'd not actually known if we'd made it.  (I'd texted him the first morning when I woke up and was surprised to find I had cell service when I went to turn off my phone.)

He told me where he was working a volunteer shift the next day and that I should come see him.

I figured I would.


Anonymous kandijay said...

I think that would be my biggest issue with going to something like this: I do NOT handle heat well. I'm a Michigan girl, and I hate summer. I dream of fall from May on.

Did it get cold at night? Did your body adjust?

Thursday, September 19, 2013 8:25:00 am  
Blogger Stephanie Hunter said...

That is one of the things I wonder about too!!!
I am for whatever reason really sensitive to the sun. Even if it's cool- if it's sunny, I end up red faced, and hot, and ... basically as you described!!! I love hearing about this adventure. =) I want to hear it all!

Thursday, September 19, 2013 11:42:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

My body (or maybe my mind?) did adjust. They'd said it would take two days and by the third day I was "better". They say that next time I go back I'll adjust quicker too. I didn't find it got cold at night because I was still overheated, but others did. I used a sleeping bag one night and nothing the rest :) But it's still so fun!

Stephanie, I wore a hat and sunscreen and once I left the shade shelter, I covered up with a sarong tied around my neck so that kept the sun off. But, yeah... heat.... whew.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 6:21:00 pm  

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