Sunday, January 10, 2010

hippies in the valley

Aron and I made our way South-via 3 cities in 3 days (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch). Out of Christchurch we caught a ride with the hostel owner as far as Hanmer Springs, and then managed to hitch-hike as far as this sign:
And we knew we had found the World Rainbow Gathering. Another hitched ride with a van full of Japanese and a 40-minute walk along a very, very muddy road, we started seeing more the tents, the dreadlocks, and the pots of chai warming over little fires.

The walk in was quite a trek. My new Tevas showed their worth! Although I got some pretty serious blisters.

Just as we were setting up our tent, a rainbow came out. It's been said that there's been a rainbow at every single World Rainbow Gathering. We got there just in time to see this one:

Twice a day there was Food Circle. A couple of times we helped out in the kitchen, rolling huge masses of chappatis, stirring vats of rice and polenta, tossing salads in storage-size plastic boxes. Before dinner was ready, there would be a "1-2-3.." and we'd all shout "FOOD CIRCLE!!" so people could start congregating. Then, once the meal was ready, everyone would stand in the circle, holding hands and singing songs like;

We are circling, circling together
we are singing, singing our heart-song
This is family, this is unity
this is celebration, this is sacred

and then an "omm" would start, and vibrations from everyone's voice would grow, and lift the whole circle up. It felt very special, and very unifying, it was a really awesome feeling. Then we'd lift our hands, bring them down namaste-style in front of us, and then all kneel and bow and give thanks.

The food was usually pretty good-staples were things like dal, red cabbage, chappatis, and soaked oats. Sometimes we got special chutneys, or rice pudding, or once even a dessert of stewed apples with seeds. Somehow there was always enough, with the servers running around yelling "First time chickpeas?" and people would respond "Chickpea connection??"
In between meals, there were workshops, things like meditation, laughter-yoga, energy channeling, baton-twirling, juggling, and discussions over the nature of the universe. I did laughter yoga, and it was a lot of silly but really hilarious exercises, we shouted things like "Very good, very good, YAY!!!!" and all giggle.

The valley was beautiful, 2 of the days we were there the sun was very hot, and we spent a lot of time lolling and reading and meeting people. I grew really fond of a girl named Tal, from Israel. But random people told me I was the sweetest person they'd met at Rainbow, or if I was ever in [their country] I could stay at their house for free, because they could see in my eyes that I was a good person. It's always nice to hear things like that.. :)

On our 3rd day, the rain started, and our little tent didn't hold up too well. We moved it a couple of times, but it was absolutely pouring, so our efforts were kind of in vain. We managed to warm ourselves by the fire before finding a communal teepee to spend the night in...

It was a really beautiful experience, the amount of love and shared excitement for life was infectious, and you really couldn't help at smiling from all the good energy there. Of course, between the rain and the mice eating our food, we were pretty ready to head out, but it was sad to leave the friends we had made.

There are Rainbow Gatherings all over the world, sometimes just regional, so there's always one going on somewhere, it seems like. Some people just hop from gathering to gathering, following them and never really settling down. I don't think I could every do that, but I can understand how addictive it is to have a family like this.