Day #12, January 28, 2013-

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Today is my first full day being back from the Rainbow Gathering, which was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life. The Gathering was held at Southpoint, the most southern point in the United States and one of the most remote places on the island. In order to get to where everyone was staying we had to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle for an hour, first going over insanely uneven dirt roads and then reaching the beach at the bottom and having to navigate the lava rocks that littered the shores. Once we arrived at the Gathering we walked in and were greeted with shouts of “Welcome home!” and “We love you!”. We set up camp and then I went to hang out at the main fire circle and it was incredible—so many interesting people were at this place. The attendance was about 55% hippie and 35% backpacker and it was a fantastic mix. I ended up meeting people named Spatula and Butterfly, and I even talked to a man named Valentine who had been to over 30 countries and every state just by hitchhiking. I talked to a few people like that and their stories inspired me and made it seem like me becoming a backpacker isn’t too impossible. They all say it’s totally doable and that I could easily do it, and I’m actually starting to believe them.

Much of that night was spent talking to people and just relaxing and hanging out at the beach and thinking about what I want to do with my life. Normally I’m very shy and am the last person you see walking around and talking to strangers, but that night I was insanely social and it was great—everyone was extremely intelligent and insanely interesting—I felt like I actually belonged somewhere. I played bongos around the fire, hugged random strangers, sang and dance, and was just generally free with a bunch of people I had never met before in my life.

We woke up wet because there had been rain and our tent did not have a functional zipper for the door, meaning we had to use the tent cover to cover the front door rather than have it over us to protect us from the rain. I had the bright idea to put my umbrella over the top of the tent, and that helped, but it wasn’t perfect. Regardless, the day was pretty awesome. I spent the day lounging around—I relaxed with some awesome people and just admired the sheer beauty of the location. The jungle we were living in was right on the beach, and walking a few hundred feet from my tent enabled me to see the ocean on one side, and the amazingly beautiful rolling hills on the other side. The pictures you guys will see at some point do not do this place justice. It’s really indescribable how perfect the location was. If you walked a bit down the beach you came to lava plateaus, which were absolutely beautiful. The water crashed against them and sprayed water everywhere, which felt amazing to walk through. I spent some time doing some chores to help around the place (the Gathering was basically a mini-commune and it was encouraged everyone do their part—no matter how small) and even got to relax thirty feet up in a tree in rope nets that had been placed all over it, which was quite cool. I then just spent a lot of time thinking, and a lot of time trying to make myself believe that I was really having such a crazy, awesome experience. I found it pretty difficult to wrap my head around the concept that I was in the middle of the pacific ocean, on an island, on the most southern point in the U.S. and an hour off the road, in a jungle sitting on the beach, playing bongos, howling at the moon, and sitting around a fire with a tribe of hippies. Definitely the best experience I’ve had on the road so far.

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