68,000 people surviving in a hot dusty desert, Black Rock Desert in Nevada was the last place on earth I expected an invitation to a five course meal from a stranger, yet that’s what happened.
Every year there is an experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and self-reliance.
People contribute to each other through art, action and involvement. No money changes hands and it is purely a gift economy; no bartering, just gifts.I flew to Los Angeles to begin my preparation for Burning Man.
I was participating in the French Quarter Art Project working in the Café de la fin du Monde whose purpose it was to gift 4,000 cups of coffee over a week.
I packed the van with coffee machines, grinders and kilos of coffee and beans; a turtle with a new shell this vehicle was to double as my home in the desert when I arrived.
Enveloped by the aroma of coffee, caffeine literally entering my system through osmosis, I took off north for the lengthy pilgrimage to visit the Man.
I followed the Sierra Nevadas north and witnessed vast peaks literally tapping the heavens for water.
It seemed such a contrast as I was in fact travelling to an ancient lake bed used for land-speed records where a single rock out of place could spell disaster for any budding daredevils.
After 12 hours, hot, hungry, excited and still wired from all the coffee I’d been inhaling, I finally set foot in the desert to begin setup.
Together with 33 international strangers we assembled the café. Erin was part of our team and we’d had a brief chat the day she arrived.
I found out she had donated a range of traditional handmade soaps she’d prepared to the French Quarter Bath House and as a thank you for her effort had been gifted a golden ticket allowing her and a guest to visit a special dinner event. This stranger invited me.
On our date night, clad in formal evening attire, we wandered a dusty lane arm-in-arm to the dinner venue where we mingled with guests whose occupations astounded me … from business owners to circus performers, Google and NASA employees.
We wet and whet our palates with a champagne cocktail before greeting our dust draped desert dining dome.
This Pacifica-themed oasis was shaded in old parachutes and peppered with literal flotsam and jetsam, wooden crates, netting and the odd skull.
Beautiful and attentive waiting staff delivered a divine array of culinary delights during the six hour candlelit extravaganza.
This included spiced pork kebabs, taro cakes and bell pepper cups stuffed with coconut curry.
The company, the venue, the juxtaposition of luxury, liquid refreshment and bone-dry desert confounded my senses and made this an eternally memorable experience.
Thank you Erin for choosing me.
The photos from Davinator 142’s adventure can be found here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/102789759@N08/sets/72157635748699683/
PS This was recently published on ABC’s website here … http://goo.gl/X0TdWh