Literally, physically and figuratively, it was a trip.
I spent ten days with 1500 yogis camping in a forest in France. It is hard to describe how it was, as it changed a lot over the days, but suffice to say it was a trip.
I was camped in a tent in the forest. It is the same place I have camped with my family for the last few years, but alone, in a very small tent, it had a Kaliesque atmosphere and as usual, she did not disappoint; the nights were long and filled with death. My imagination took new flights of fancy never previously visited and sometimes I would lie for up to three hours at a time in a state of terror. Listening to creatures killing each other, rustling through the undergrowth and going about their evening business was very different to trying to make sense of it all in the daylight. Creatures that would open my heart and have me cooing in delight in the daylight became scary monsters in the dark and I really did not love them at all.
My tent had an inner lining and rats 9probably cute little dormouse thingys) would hurl themselves over it in the middle of the night, scratching and tearing their way over my head. Owls would plung with a scream into little things and there would be the howling death cries just beside me. I heard a snake pounce and kill just behind my head and really I did not love nature. I wanted it all to go away and leave me alone. Of course it did not and I am a sleep deprived yogi who lived to tell the tales of tiny creatures in the night. My best bit was the disappearing sponge. A bright blue thing that I used for washing up. It was always gone in the morning and I would have to hunt for it. It would be dragged off into far off corners to be nibbled by something with ever such pointy teeth. The last day I could not find it at all. Packing up revealed the whole thing in tiny little pieces in a box. Sweet.
Several hundred mosquitoes dined upon me, too, and by the second to last day I peaked. A storm was brewing, the sky was black and other rainy nights had seen all manner of beasties trying to shelter under my tent, so I de-camped and slept in a friends tent. They have 4 kids and a tent like a house. We lay and giggled all night. It was fab. All my fears evaporated and everything was better after that.
The festival was great fun. My seva (selfless service) was to organise the food being served to 1500 people every day. I had nothing to do with cooking it, just had to run the 55 people who dished it out to yogis who had gone all day with just bananas and oranges to eat. I loved it. It is the best seva I have been given so far.
I am back home now, having been starved of parmesan cheese and the internet for 11 days. Today I made my way through hundreds of emails and now feel worn out but pleased that I could do all that and run a successful shop in a forest on my own. I dragged my stiff arse out of the Landrover at midnight last night and thought:
I did it. And it was good. I will go again next year.