Friday the temperature continued to rise. By the time I made it back to my camp the temperature was well into the 90's and climbing. I grabbed my water bottle and joined my campmates under the shade structure.
At Burning Man, one of the things you must learn is to know your limits. Once the heat of the day sets in, it's best to find some shade and stay there. Failure to do so, will likely result in heat exhaustion, ruining the rest of your day and evening. Sitting around doing nothing can be infuriating at place like Burning Man. There is so much to do and see. It's easy to come down with a case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). As I sat with new friends, listening to their stories from earlier in the week, I couldn't help but want to get back out there. Finally after a couple of hours, I relented and headed to one of my regular hangouts, Barbie Death Camp.
Barbie Death Camp is something everyone should see. Every year Hundreds of Barbies are set up into a concentration camp type march into a full sized oven, and otherwise sacrificed at Barbie Death Camp. I've seen women bring their childhood Barbie Dolls to add to the spectacle. It's both funny and sick at the same time. But that's not the only reason I go there. Barbie Death Camp is also a wine bistro, and always has shade and comfortable couches. And for some reason I always end up there just before Critical Tits, a 1000+ woman strong topless bike ride through Black Rock City.
One of the best things about Barbie Death Camp is the people you meet there. This year I met a guy who turned out to be an Iraq Vet. I'll just call him "Joe," I don't know if I even caught his real name. He seemed sweet but damaged in a way that was undeniable, both physically and mentally. But he smiled with a joy I recognized that only comes from being on the Playa.
He told me that after his time in Iraq, he was a worthless human being. He said he was hateful, and full of anger, and cruel...and then he came to Burning Man. "I'd never seen anything like this before," Joe told me. "People just create, and respect and love here. I know I could go down any street here and tell someone I love them for being a person, and they'll believe me."
His words made me want to cry. We talked a long time. He told me things he probably shouldn't have, but he knew I served in the military too, and trusted me. When we parted, we hugged a good Playa hug each of us glad to have met the other.