OUR KIDS FREE VACATION IN THE DESERT
I am sitting here thinking about how to begin writing a post chronicling the crazy/amazing/unique experience that was Burning Man. In truth, I really don't even know where to start putting the pen to the paper (err..hands to the keyboard).
For several years now, my husband and I have talked about how necessary an adults-only vacation is for just the two of us, minus our kiddos. In truth, every vacation we've taken since our oldest son, Yuli, was born 4 years ago has been a full-family vacation. In fact, I've never really left the kids for a single night! (Of course, when we travel to Israel to visit our extended families, the boys are comfortable staying one night here and there with their grandparents. Yet, in reality, it's been one night since they were born.) So last year, when we started speaking about the Burning Man, the week- long art festival in Nevada desert, serving as a vacation for Noam and me, we were excited about the possibility of recharging and reconnecting.
Six months ago, our dear friend bought festival tickets for my husband and me (this is when I realized: it's happening!), and invited us to participate in this exclusive experience - one that would be different than anything we'd ever done- for one whole week. She explained that this is a week that everyone must experience at least once in their lives. Meanwhile, all I wanted to do was fly away with Noam to a romantic location like Venice! But, it didn't take much to convince my husband to be all-in for this kind of vacation experience. My parents even happily offered to fly in from Israel to watch their grandsons (how amazingly committed are they?!)
The mother in me was a bit nervous to leave the kids for a whole week. I didn't want them to be upset and I was genuinely concerned I'd miss them too much! As soon as I told my four year old that his Saba and Savta (grandparents in Hebrew) were on their way from the airport (I'm so grateful for them!!!) to take care of him he clapped his hands, opened the apartment door and stood at the entrance waiting for their arrival (How cute is my little Yuli?! a week before we left when I mentioned in front of him that we are leaving soon, he was really happy and excited..., and made it easier for me... !) My one year old, Ori, didn't really understand that Noam and I were going away, so he made it even easier for my parents. Many kisses and hugs (I gave many lol!) and we were out.
After many hours of flying, we landed West Coast and found ourselves in an RV, headed toward the desert. We were already fully absorbed in our new environment. My mother checked in early on to let us know that everything was going great back in BK, and wished us an enjoyable and relaxing time.
At the entrance to Black Rock City, we received a big hug at the gates. Upon arrival to the site, we were asked if it was our first time here. First-timers earned the title 'Virgin,' and were invited to lie down on the desert ground and take in the dust, as an initiation ceremony of sorts. We completed the ceremony, and from then on, could not stop laughing!
PLAYA?, the city that is constructed each year for the festival, is diverse and colorful. Many different types of people from all different walks of life around the world were around us. Festival-goers rode bikes around from place to place, enormous pieces of artwork could be taken in at every stretch of the site, and new things were encountered that we had never even dreamed of seeing. Every single person we met along the week-long journey was friendly and courteous. Singles, married couples, and families with children (can you imagine how much fun it must have been for participating kids to ride bikes around in costumes all day long?! The dream!) all joined in the festival activities. Playa was this man-made perfect world with lots of love and hugs, minus the egos and negativities.
The City itself comes to life just before sunrise. Noam and I found ourselves waking up day-in, day-out at 4 AM, surrounded by our crew of friends in the rented RV. Daytime attire consisted of summery, colorful clothing (after all, we were in the scorching desert!), whereas nighttime attire included the likes of fur coats and layered ensembles. (In actuality, it still gets dark and cold in the desert! Who Knew?) We were given the incredible opportunity of bike riding at sunrise, with the most fantastic vantage point ahead. And, there was so much to do at all hours of the day on-site.
We listened to music, met tons of new people, and found spots in the City at which we became 'locals' during the week of immersion. Our morning coffee spot, the "brunch" locale, the best art niches. I can only equate our routine to a camp of sorts - one that offers a most open and blessed environment, and asks absolutely nothing in return of its guests - other than love and kindness and of course, openness to the opportunities in front of you.
Essentially, Burning Man was like one huge, super-fun, amusement park for adults. I found myself skating around on rollerblades at 7 AM (FYI, the last time I rode on skates was when I was six, back home in Nazareth Illit!), being my own boss in control of time, only looking out for numero uno. There was no one to feed, no diapers to change, no school pick-ups - just endless possibilities for personal enjoyment and growth. Do I want to hear a lecture? Am I in the mood to listen in on some presentations? or to see/watch Virtual reality? Is it time for me to eat? Relax? Have a camp cookout?
Speaking of cookouts...everyone wanted to help out and do their part. All festival participants found it rewarding to do nice things for other participants. And, in almost the entirety of the region, there was no cell service so a frined brought a Every time I would get an iota of reception, I'd be inundated with positive messages from my parents about how great everything was going at home with the kids - so much so that Yuli and Ori hadn't even asked about us! I was so happy to hear this and felt reassured and relaxed with each additional communication.
Throughout the Burning Man week, I let myself surrender all feelings of angst and stress. Inhibitions went down. Experiences were taken in, in the most grateful and appreciative of manners. My husband and I had this amazing opportunity to be alone with each other in one of the most unlikely places in the world. It was a transformative experience - and yes, indeed, did we recharge! I can't wait to come back in the future- hopefully with the kids! I'm excited for the entire Dekel clan to experience the magic that is Burning Man, together!