“Camping is like having a baby – you forget the pain and do it again,” said a woman at Shambala festival.
As the rain dripped, we wondered why we had left our warm dry homes to live in a field. Not even a quiet one because this was Festival Land where sounds pound night-and-day from eight different music tents. The chaos was offset by the healing area with its chimes dinging in the wind, and therapists offering massage or reiki or any manner of soothing restoration in calm tents.
I was helping the family crew welcome parents and children to the family yurt, a wondrous place of sanctuary. It was a pleasure seeing the children run free. And when dark descended, you could promenade in the anarchic carnival atmosphere.
Circus-huge tents were themed from The Kamikaze tent and Geisha Palace to The Aloha beach with sand and pretend palm trees. My favourite was the Bollocks tent, a surreal lounge with sofas serving vodka shots and impromptu jazz from top musicians dropping by.
There was always somewhere to have a cup of tea even at two in the morning such as Granny’s Gaff (granny looked manly and used tea-cosies).
Back at the family site, its boundaries not the usual walls but canvas, we took turns cooking the evening supper. On Sunday it was mine.
Two gas rings in a busy field kitchen and 18 adults and 12 children to feed. Mike was graceful about being my commis.
We served 500g split peas (soaked overnight and simmered for an hour) with juice squeezed from 10 fresh lemons, tahini and ground almonds; 400g of aduki beans (soaked overnight and simmered for an hour) with yogurt; mashed sweet potato; and pan-fried beetroot and carrot. I wanted to roast the beetroot and carrots but – no oven – so I experimented by cooking them for an hour in oil. They retained more sweetness than mere boiling.
We camped until the festival had truly ended. It was a privilege seeing the illusion dismantled like being backstage.
I watched the Posh Wash showers being loaded on to a truck and the mobile solar-powered cinema drive off. The circus was leaving town.
We slept the last night in an empty field where an owl hooted above the faraway sounds of the festival crew’s last party.