I’m starting to interpret the Barge and the community living on it as a poorly planned Burning Man festival.
Full disclosure, I’ve never been to a “burn” But several of my close friends have.
They’ve explained that the socioeconomic structure that exists at Burning man is a abstract possibility of what could be, rather than the rigid supply and demand economy we’ve all been conditioned to survive within.
The Barge is a varied projection of Burning Mans abstract virtues.
It seems there are a lot of people ill prepared for the 18 day journey.
By a lot, I mean more than half.
By ill, I mean: no water, no food, no flash light, no medicine, no bed, no mosquito net, no chair, no mat, no soap, no fucking anything.
Just him or her and more children than you could possibly conceive (pun intended) expecting good things will happen.
It’s the very same justification people here use when they have 8 kids without a consistent means to provide for them, economic or otherwise.
The philosophy of: Have children and let God figure the rest out, is more popular here than Drake.
Enter me, the only muzungu.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m ill prepared, however, for those who know me the consensus is: I’m not a huge fan of future planning.
I have about 18 packages of Raman noodles (10 now).
Seven tins of sardines.
Roughly 12 liters of water.
And 2 chocolate caramel suckers.
I understood coming into this situation that I couldn’t drink the river water like some locals do, because well, Cholera.
I can’t eat the dried fish because I don’t know where or how it was prepared, so can’t risk getting sick as a result of eating it.
I can’t speak Lingala or French. Thus my ability to communicate what I want or need is severely limited.
I don’t shower unless it’s in the rain.
I put all my used toilet paper in a water bottle.
I put all the garbage I’ve accrued in a bag I’ve hung in my car/house.
Which is why the car and I both smell like 10,000 year old pussy.
I have to be sustainable.
And I am, barely.
All said, i’m surrounded by people who are not prepared for Burning Man.
And they see me as the ticket for relief.
That fact alone has been the single most challenging part of traveling, not just the barge or Congo but Africa as a colonized ideology.
The magic incantation that gets this Muzungu ATM to dispense his unlimited flow of money is a simple combination of rubbing your thumb and index finger together, while saying “I’m hungry”.
The underpinning truth of what I’m experiencing here as: manipulation mentality, is just a manifestation of mega intense survivors instinct.
People will do absolutely whatever it takes to survive.
Asking or begging me for money is the least gross thing that could yield a return.
So why not try?
I mean people here eat gorillas, giant caterpillars and y’know, human beings.
Understanding this, I have become harder.
I’m not as generous as my typical self because I would be absorbed completely.
Utterly used and abandoned.
It’s this unfortunate permeating ethos that has polluted my generosity.
Here, there is no reciprocation.
It’s a, who brought water to burning man?
Well. Let’s go ask Doug for some fuck’n water.
But that’s going to suck for him …right?
Fuck Doug! We need water!
The reality is, people are becoming very comfortable with me.
Would it surprise me if a group of people after hearing “No” for the last eleven days attempt a different, more physical approach to seeing what’s inside my backpack?
Not at all.
After all, isn’t Dougs water really our water?
This blog is in no way sponsored by Burning man.