Sunday, July 31, 2005

Chasing hippies in the Artic!!! (Rainbow Gathering)

I have been living in a week-long day which only my biological clock fragments into periods of sleep and awakeness. It’s summer in Northern Norway, the sun shines at midnight, and five past twelve is already sunset. I stayed in bodo for two weeks, with Mohammed and Josefina, two local musicians, Bodo itself is rather ugly, with the average harbour infraestructures at least giving the town a very artic feel. When a local journalist asked me if I liked the town I thought of a chocolate cake and sayed yes with the head.
I had to move, I was still 450 kms away from the Rinbow- Ting hippie gathering, but the second car that stopped for me was that of our norwegians with the genuine offer of trekking over a glaciar inside a cave, and I couldn’t resist. Obviously that night I dodn’t get very far and just camped by the side of the road.
The next day I could see the first effects of the interview with my picture in Bodo newspaper: a amn stops because he read about me in his breakfast, and the officers of the ferry operating from Bognes to Narvik welcome me free on board. Travelling along the E-6 is sets me nostalgic: narrow road but well kept, lakes and fiords, mountains with the last snows, scarce towns and little traffic: everything indicates a nordic sister of the Route 40 (suns for 4,667 kms from Patagonia to northern Argentina). When on the way to Narvik I traveled for the first time in this 3 months in the back of a pick up, the similarity became unbearable. A petty the prices don’t join the game.
Narvik, another gray harbour in a dramatically beautiful fiord, was the artic sanctuary of many nazi battleships. There, loyal to my “spend 0” policy I changed accomodation for a mention in the website of the project, in the hostel where I slept (Spor 1 Guesthouse
The Rainbow Family meeting was located in the very end of a valley called Dividalen, which is 50 kms long, in sami territoriy. The samis are the last european indigenous people, they live from rheindeer herding, but they live up to date, with mobile phones and Volvo’s. My first impression when I got to the meeting, with a polich hitch hiker (Maciek) that had joined me, was that I had reached an uncontacted tribe. A couple of dozen people were talking beneath a fire, around there are several tipees. When they see us they shout “Welcome home!” A second look was required to confirm that those nice people belonged to my same time and culture, maybe because of their succesful efforts towards a timeless esthetic. Most of them went barefoot, most of them had dreadlocks, beards were long. They are students, they are mothers with children, they are middle age men. They are european, they are japanese, they are Southamerican. They seem excesivelly cultured and aware, and they think (and I agree) that in some stage we took the wrong turn and that we should trade big cities for small self sufficient communities. They consider themselves a family and they nickname the outside and corrupted world as ‘Babylon’.
I had started tto talk with an icelandic guy who blamed the patriarcal society for all our pain when another arrival happened: a blonde, moustached american guy that dropped his backpack and hugged three of us as if we were his sons. In general there is a kindness and a human warmth that babilonics have long since lost: any eye contact can spark wide and cuasi idiotic smiles. Others live, three swedish guys set off walking for their country (3 days)
In a moment we moved to another fire, near the river. There, Eduard from Romania did a kind comment about Borges, so I thanked by praising Cioran. In the group, in which scandinavians are majority, many speak spanish and have lived several months in LatinAmerica. It’s nice to see american, swedish and french using Spanish as common channel. After the first day my conclusion is that, if Christiania was a revolutionary place, the Rainbow Family was defenitly the “Foreing Legion” in charge of exporting that pride, of keeping the fire alive. I went to sleep just when many others were waking up. The absence of night takes people here to slep rather randomly according to chaotic schedules.
The ‘family’ as any human group also has rituals. By lunchtime we all did a “food circle”, and took each other by the hand to sing: “We are circling, circling togheter, we are singing, singing our heart songs, this is family, this is unity, this is celebration, this is sacred.” It’ s our way of thanking nature for the food we are about to eat: polenta with apple and raisines. Alcohol is banned.
That night I had the opportuniy to join a “vision circle”, in which one of the ‘brothers’ announced a vision of a big meeting in the Altai mountains, in the border between China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The visions of future meetings should be ratified by absolute consensus in previous meetings. People talk one by one as a ‘talking stick’ is passed to them, never interrumpting (in theory, with some exceptoins) subsequently giving the right of speech to their neighbours. The melancholic american girl ended talking about nomadism and Flavio asks please to focalize on the vision, just when the ‘talking stick’ reaches the french guy with turbant who has just arrived and knows nothing about the gravity of the issue, so he seats, takes the stick to this forehead gently, closes his eyes and announces that he visualizes a yellow eagle. Flavio asks again please to leave our eagles out… All that day people was talking about Altai, about the visas, about a truck that the someone of tha family had in Marocco and that could be used for the long trip there. Miki from israel and me think the same, we should set the stress in communities, the meetings are necesaary but are picnics in nature that will not change the world themselves.
The last day (it’s a metaphor, it’s always day) started with a surprise. I wasn’t the only argentinean. Candelaria has tavelling since 1989. She is 41, and her daughter Paula , that was born in Costa Rica, is 5 and can even speak some english. “I saw Menem caming to power and I rushed to buy the ticket”. In the city, one always comes across people that never hot the road or people who did it but came back rather soon (these are anyway those inspiring us). Only in the road we meet the people that made the road their home and movement their air. Cande shares a ‘mate’ with me and tells me about a French family she knows who is having problems with the state because they don’t want to send their child to school, because they are always moving and the child is anyway learning really important things with them and the people they meet. I think in concertino, the german man who has been travelling for 25 years with his bandoneon and his hamag. I also met him here. Some examples can be too much for a single day, I have better go to sleep.

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