AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Painted Boots and a Beard ~ Part 5


Solar Santa concludes his Odyssey.

Words & pics: Solar Santa

Congratulations on making it this far. You must be a Burner. Or planning on becoming one.
This story is an attempt to capture in words the magic of AfrikaBurn 2019. It is a personal journey through a limited prism. Thousands of others will be told by others who have travelled a different path. But all ending in the same sacred place. Many beautiful pictures will have been taken of magnificent art pieces and wonderful mutant vehicles. And hours of video. Enjoy them when you find them.
It is dark on the Binnekring. A group of revellers walk past. A beautiful woman breaks off and gives me a mighty hug and a kiss on the lips. Clearly chemically enhanced Burner love. It makes me wonder about the prevalence of happiness-inducing chemicals. Frowned on in most cases by polite society. Enter Jonx once again to share his wisdom. He sits quietly with me in my pergola resting his weary photographer’s legs. Why he asks is alcohol legally acceptable. If used to excess it can lead to violence, dependence and even death.  Surely, the sage reflects, the same standards should apply to any other substance, particularly when it has been used by civilization for thousands of years but now outlawed. The same negative consequences are possible but that decision is in the hands of the user where it should be. You meet smart people in Tankwa Town.
The Cat in the Hat serves me tea. He has been worried about his solar installation and seeks my advice. I meet his delightful larney team in their organized stretch tent. Where else will I meet The King. He has a crown and is self-appointed royalty. He is fun. I learn that these two mad but sane folk are highly respected professional people in the default world. They escape to the Tankwa to let off steam and recharge their batteries to survive the rigours of their daily lives. And they use solar power. Like I’ve said before, super smart people.
I seek some quiet time on the Binnekring. The Spirit Train is drawn up alongside the site of the monumental Octograbber. There are a few gently gyrating souls dancing to the thumping music. It’s funny how you tune out the earth-shaking sound. Like living next to a railway line. I climb into the last carriage and sit down to rest my weary legs. And get to watch a platoon of site cleaners diligently clearing the ground where the Octograbber burnt down. A giant magnet helps with the metal bits and the gloved crew pick through the ashes like hens in a farmyard at feeding time. The work never stops even though the party is over. As I leave a well-dressed figure emerges. But (his name!) is co-creator of this moving artistic machine. But tells me it is an upgrade on a former train and has been huge work getting it finished and delivered to site. I believe him.
Little Sharlie is 4 years old today. They are close neighbours and I enjoy Christophe’s quiet nature. Christophe and Candice are from Paris but have relocated to Cape Town. He is a serene, gentle soul. Candice is my biggest customer keeping Sharlie’s iPad charged. A bundle of energy that needs constant stimulus. She sings French songs all day. Thanks to her I get a chocolate cake on her birthday.

Getting off fossil fuels will eventually stem the tide of climate change. As Greta Thunberg told the human fossils in Davos: “Our house is on fire”. It was gratifying to see many camps adopting solar for their power. I’m sure their neighbours enjoyed the lack of noise and fumes. A sample: Dieter and Charlie installed a large system in a trailer and car to power Smokescreen. Les Petit Paris had 12 panels and a massive battery bank. The Cat in the Hat had a neat system powering his fridge and freezer. And lots more smaller systems throughout the camps. Smart people at work.
The show is winding down. The party is almost over. Marius whizzes up on his battery powered monowheel disguised as a flying saucer. A regular charging customer. His theme camp is called “The Square” and they’ve got 10 kgs of leftover boerewors. My site is on a corner gloriously in the middle of all the theme camps. Can he bring his braai and offer boerie rolls? Dear reader, if you want to become an instant celebrity in Tankwa Town, offer food. The spontaneous braai stand is up and running in minutes. Finn from Canada fills the large coffee pot with high powered drink. Marius and Devin get the sweet smell of seffrica in the wind. The crowd gets bigger as the rolls are buttered and the mustard and tomato sauce flow freely. No food is wasted.

I am leaving Tankwa Town in a car packed to the roof once again. The last item on my wish list is to thank Monique for her 13th masterpiece. I have no idea where to find her and the exit is in sight. As always the pixie dust is still working. Monique is walking down the road where I am travelling!!! This is synchronicity of the highest order. In the thousands of square meters of Tankwa Town, she is meters from me. Incredulously I jump out and give her a mighty hug. My visit is complete. The Goddess of the Tankwa has blessed me with her magic and a wish for a safe journey home. I cry as I exit the gate. They are tears of happiness.
Solar Santa
May 2019.

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