The first team heads out to the property. Operational leads, map makers, GPS plotters, kitchen creators, fluffers, and the heavy lifters.
Gosh, but they hit the ground running – started clearing and cleaning, sorting and saving, restoring and renewing – gearing up three tented areas and a fully equipped kitchen for those arriving for the weekend.
A large host of people bearing gifts, rituals, hopes and plans arrive throughout the day. Each party heavily invested, this truly was a Meet-The-Land work crew. There were people involved in the hunt from the very beginning. People involved in the most recent searches. People on the committees who never thought we’d get here. People planning automated drone systems and telescopic defence turrets. People evaluating vistas, landscapes and the elements. People curating, creating and collaborating. People looking to the past and people looking to the future.
There were people looking at the potential event site (because if we’re honest with ourselves, 2021 feels like next weekend). Pilots, engineers, games masters, kite makers, exotic dancers, trainees and interns, deejays, organisers, disorganisers, anarchists, sculptors, ground and earth artists, community leaders, survivalists, doomsday preppers, enviro-warriors, some one-percenters (who would have ever thought?), many people attended in spirit, many just attended to work, curators, orators, masticators, and entertainers.
At the core of this journey, the Zone trip of our very own, there’s only good intent, a palpable sense of positive intention, and (dare I say it) the kiffest of good vibes. Everyone has a reason to be here. Whether it’s a small personal goal, or a strong communal reason to set intent, everyone is ready to participate in something memorable and monumental – everyone has come to represent stakeholders in the event, the community, the movement, the country and the human race.
Camped just next to me and my family, were an eclectic group of people who brought with them an air of authenticity, majesty, and energy. From various parts of South Africa, the First People, of this land, representatives from the San Camp and the Mantis Camp at AfrikaBurn – these are the folk who bless our Clan (and many other burns) by conducting rituals that celebrate and recreate the original fire. They are quiet and contemplative, engaging and comforting, drawing everyone into the natural magic, serenity, and serendipity of the area.
Once everyone was camped, settled and landed (and once my parents, having gone astray, had found their way to site), we all bundled into vehicles and headed to a hill (named Quaggakop), for our first sunset at this wondrous new place. Now, I’ve seen a lot of Tankwa sunsets, and this one was by far one of the least spectacular – no golden clouds, limited 3D-manipulated-hologram-phoenix-rising-fire-dragon-ball-z-thermo-nuclear-radiation-vibrating-mattering-colour fiascos. BUT, I’ve also never felt any as magical. This one was different – in two major ways. With this one there’s a real sense of custodianship and responsibility. And there’s an energy of rebirth and longevity. It’s a new sky, but the old sky.
I often feel like the success of projects in our dusty town can be measured by the amount of serendipity and synchronicity experienced by the team and participants surrounding the project. The more things seem to “fit”, the more it seems like we got it “right”. This moment captures it all.
There’s a sense of release, and some costume. Some organic art, some spectacles, some community, some gifting and some family. And as the sky faded, the soft winds creeped up and we meandered back to what felt more and more like a homestead by the minute.
So many smiles, celebrations, salutes and settlings. Settling into bed with close friends laughing in the distance, dreaming of a slice of this new world we love so much.
Starting somewhat early as the heat hit hard, the day was filled with deep thought, planning, scheming and exploring. Teams of different folk with different interests headed out on a variety of reccies and treks. People climbed and hiked. People made maps, filmed movies, meandered, made things and created memories.
We climbed the little koppie nearest the farmhouse, to try and take in the majesty and put some perspective to the prospects. Staring out over endless plains, surrounded by a clasp of mountains, wind-blasted, barren, blazed, burnt, and bare, but filled with potential. The traces of life, fruitful and plentiful before it was destroyed by settlement, fencing, overgrazing and carelessness. The traces of no care, wanton destruction, and unconsciousness.
In the heat of the day, the land vibrates with energy and the heat ripples across the rocky landmarks. We accompany a contingent of the First Peoples camp who were to conduct a blessing of sorts; a request to the water snake to return to the mountains behind the property, and a ritual to remind the springs who they were.
Much like the folk gathered around this strange oasis of green grass and fresh water in the middle of the desert, different waters from different rivers and springs had been gathered together and brought to the well to be re-introduced to its own. With a multitude of blessings and a myriad of considerations, the ritual bonded us to the land, and to each other.
As with the event, there’s an overwhelming feeling of togetherness, and we’re all close friends who’ve accomplished something impossible. We’ve got plans and we’re going to do the things. It’s exciting. We chatter, joke and prank, breaking bread and dancing into the night. We belong here. I think.
Although there’s a crew that’s staying to secure the site and settle the ‘stead, we all pull together for an immediate strike. We pack, clean, wrap and deconstruct in seconds. It’s not even midday when we all find ourselves ambling and meandering around the property, looking for reasons not to hit the road and head back to the default world. We do. And we leave warmer, older, stronger, and more responsible than when we arrived.