[Many thanks to Carla who wrote this for our camp last year. It all still applies and is a must read for all new Burners in our camp.]
My apologies in advance if this sounds like a big Do and Dont List. Everyones experience of Burning Man will be vastly different, and what works for one person wont for another. These ideas represent my own experience as well as information from the Burning Man Web site. Take what works for you and toss the rest. Its all good.
Top of the list is to encourage you to spend some time with the Burning Man website: www.burningman.com
At minimum, try to read The Survival Guide under the Preparation Section. The second thing to read is the newsletter that is mailed to every ticketholders address.
If youve read those two things, you already know that Leave No Trace is an integral part of the Burning Man ethos. Making that a reality, though, involves some pre-planning.
More about Leave No Trace (obviously this is very important)
What NOT to Bring
What TO bring
After you leave highway 80 past Reno, be VERY careful driving the next 2+ hours. As you approach the different small towns along the way, DO NOT SPEED. They are lying in wait for you. Speeding tickets are a huge revenue stream for these small towns, and they just sit and wait for you to come barreling through. The roads are small, and the speed limit varies, so be really cautious, especially at night since some of the road is open range.
Finding Our Camp
If all goes well, we will know in advance the coordinates of our camp location. However, there is a chance that we will not have a location in advance, and that we will have to stake out our territory once we arrive. Ill send out more info about this a week before the burn.
How Will We Find Each Other?
If we dont have a location in advance, there are several ways to locate someone on the playa. The first thing you do upon arrival is ask the Greeters at the gate if there is a way to find people (computer registration) at the gate. If not, you will need to go to Center Camp.So, just drive in towards the center, (youll have a map from the Greeters), find a parking space near a bank of porta potties (they have space around them for this purpose), and then walk into Center Camp. There you will find The Directory, which is part of Burning Man Information Services. Theyre open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm throughout the event, and we will have registered the name Palenque Norte there once we find our location. Give them the name and they will do a computer search, and tell you where we are camped. As a backup, or if theyre closed, we will also post a sign in a specific spot on the bulletin board located in the same place. Ill give out that info later as well. Then go back to your car, and drive to our campsite, and park and unpack and relax and get in the vibe of the playa. Its actually pretty easy and kind of a fun scavenger hunt. By the way, as of last year, there was no cell phone reception on the playa. To make a call, you need to go to Gerlach on the provided bus service for $5.
What to Wear
In 2000 it was so cold on the playa that I wore boots, flannel pants, a fleece top and a full-length wool poncho, and that was during the day!! At night I wore everything that was in my bag. In 2001, I [Carla D. :-)] wore a bikini top and a mini skirt during the day, and I was sweating, and at night I wore pants and a backless top, and I was quite comfy until about 3:00 am, when I needed to add a jacket. What 2002 will be like is anyones guess, but its best to prepare for 100-degree days, cool to cold nights and rain and windstorms throughout. [Note: 2002 had the best weather imaginable (for a desert!) . . . so we might have used up our mild weather tokens.]
Shoes need to be really comfortable because you will walk for miles. Open sandals or bare feet on the alkali playa will soon make your feet crack and bleed so closed toe shoes are good. Of course, you can always go naked and not worry about what to wear at all. The one thing you need to put on, though, is sunscreen. Hats are pretty important, too for shade.
Food will obviously depend on your own desires along with those you plan on sharing food with, but Ive found that prepared food that can be grabbed and grazed is the way to go. Odds are you will be hungry at random times, and in the desert your appetite is diminished. It is critical that you eat, however, so plan on packing things that are low maintenance and easy. Fresh fruit and bread spoil very quickly so dont bring enough for the whole week. Cook food in advance and put it in Tupperware so its ready to eat when youre hungry. You can freeze it in advance and let it thaw throughout the week. Last year, we had a RV, and we used the oven to serve pre-made lasagna and black bean chili on different nights to the masses. It was especially well received by those who didnt have a way to eat hot meals. If you want to share food like that, you will be well loved, but dont bring too much. Power bars are a great idea as well. Drinks are essential. Bring lots of juices as well as water and electrolyte drinks. Coffee, tea, chai and lemonade can be bought at the Center Camp Café as well as ice at Camp Arctica. These are the only two things for sale at Burning Man, and the ice line can be loooong and hot. [Note: This is a good chance to try going on a raw food diet. It's healthy, tasty, and fun!]
The Burning Man
Web site gives a wonderful description of what a gift economy is and
how it differs from a barter economy, so I encourage you to read it. Basically,
no money is spent at Burning Man, but you are encouraged to give of
yourself as well as to create some sort of gift you might like to share
with people you encounter along the way. Maybe youd like to bake
some brownies or make some beaded necklaces or whatever speaks to you.
Its a wonderful opportunity to truly give of yourselfgive
the gift of who you arewhether its helping some new arrivals
set up their tents or making a batch of margaritas to share with the passing
crowd. One of the best parts of Burning Man is seeing how everyone
invents this idea for themselves.