Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Final Departure: Saying Goodbye to Burning Man

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After two put offs, and days with rain, final departure from the Nevada Dessert finally started this Monday with participants packing to leave the festival site. The week-long festival at the Black Rock Desert holds beautiful self-expressions of creativity, art and communities.

This year the festival began on August 27, with the Black Rock City, three hours away from the airport, hosting around 70,000 visitors. Thousands of people gathered to spend days at the festival in sloppy mud, started to walk-away the northwest Nevada with their camps. The organizers stated, “Exodus operations have officially begun.” 

The annual festival started with the lakebed starting to dry out, but it became squishy and mudded on Monday followed by days of rain. Kristine Rae, physical therapist (Idaho) said, “You had to haul” as she moved in her truck. Added, she saw vehicles that struggled to move in the soggy mud and “there were cars stuck halfway up their wheels.”

The changed weather led to carrying forward the festival’s climax twice before the final rituals of burning the man shaped wooden effigy could be carried out. But this year, unlike the ever-going blasting music, it was much silent as almost half the visitors leaving the desert.

The drivers leaving the festival site shared their struggles with the muddy and drenching route leading to the road from the campsite. A Brazilian dermatologist, Calu franco from San Paulo said, “I wasn’t expecting to stick around for this, but I felt like we deserved this.”

More than half of the visitors have already returned from the festival site, while rest are on their way gathering their stuff from the muds. The mud seems to have eaten many of their things, including bikes, tents and even shade structures.

Reportedly, the organizers appealed the attendees to take some extra time to leave the venue, as an act for avoiding traffic jams. As per Monday, the estimated time to leave Burning Man was around 12 hours, followed by a drop to roughly eight hours on Tuesday morning.

People started packing their belongings on Monday, while some left their extras including food, water, and other items for the burners, aka Festivalgoers. The weather forecast gave hopes to many people on Monday night, to stay back and enjoy the burning of effigy. An artist, Olivia Steele, said – “Of course, I’m staying! We come here every year to get schooled. This time we got a great education.”

A yoga instructor from Los Angeles, Donovan McGrath said, “The rain provided an amazing opportunity to walk, to move more slowly, to connect with people who you may not have.” While he added, “There were many silver linings.”

McGrath shared, that people giggled about reporting the conditions of Burning Man to the president Biden, after a representative from the White House reported on Sunday.

While people talked about the muddy and new experience at the festival while getting ready to leave, another festival member, Hayden Welda said, “We’ll be back next year, and hoping that it doesn’t rain.”


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