The International Rainbow Gatherings tend to happen over July, my birthday month. Most people can take some vacation time around then. For other Rainbow travelers, it doesn’t matter when it is because their life is Rainbow all the time. We were beginning to fit in. Life at the Gathering was starting to feel normal as our old life became a fond memory.
Washing dishes and helping in the kitchen to make chapati for the masses was everyday life. Finding firewood for the fire, playing guitar, and singing Rainbow songs all night in a teepee was also memorable. We learned some new skills along the way. Wandering out at night, balancing a flashlight while trying not to drop it into the trench while using the “shitter” was all part of our daily life. One strange feature of the location was that it was close enough to the Croatian border that we could regularly hear the explosions of bombs from the war raging just over that border. We all prayed for peace.
They say you can’t have a rainbow without rain, and we certainly got our share. We learned to dig a little trench/moat around our tent so we wouldn’t flood. There were times when everybody’s cloth items hung out to dry, making the hillside look like a giant patchwork quilt. But the rain never dampened the spirits. Finding dry wood and then keeping it dry was the game.
“Widow Makers” is so-called because if it fell on you, your wife could become a widow. They were large branches that had broken and partially fallen out of the trees but had not made it to the ground and were an excellent score as they were dry. We didn’t see many snakes or other animals, but a sign marked for anyone who stumbled upon the creature’s territory so no one would trespass. I do remember a well-marked hornet’s nest.
Peter came to me and asked if I wanted to go on a supply run with him and a couple of other guys. Donna was having fun hanging out with some of the Rainbow sisters and Karen and told me it was my birthday and to go on and have some fun with the guys. So, off we went. Three or four of us piled into a small van and began our trip down the roads into town.
I don’t remember exactly what we picked up. A few boxes of food ingredients, flour, salt, etc. Another crew had been in charge of vegetables which they had helped grow at some of the nearby farms. We curved our way down the road lined with trees turning on the correct road. We arrived at the small market and bought the needed items with “magic hat” money supplemented with some more significant donations from some more financially fluid brothers and sisters.
A Little Lost
On the way back, there came some moments of confusion. “Did we come this way?” “Was this the right way back?” “Where are the marker signs?” Yes, we were a little lost. We drove past a road, and someone said, “Hey! I think that was the road we came down on!” So we backed up and turned onto that road. As we followed it, we saw a girl with short blonde hair and bare feet walking along the route. This was too far away, so we stopped and asked where she was going and if she needed a ride. She looked us over suspiciously and decided we were okay.
“I’m going to the Rainbow Gathering, but the guys I got a ride with had other ideas, so I jumped out of the car,” she said. “They drove off with all I had!”
“Don’t worry. We are on our way back to the Gathering, where we can sort something out for you,” Peter told her. “So, what is your name?”
“Britta,” she said as she climbed into the front seat.
We all introduced ourselves as we made our way back, catching a glimpse of a sign that had been knocked down. We might have missed it if we hadn’t stopped to pick her up! As we wound along the road back to the Gathering, Britta asked about it, as this would be her first one. Explaining how it all worked, she relaxed, and she was ready when we arrived at the parking. We hiked into camp carrying the boxes of supplies and introduced Britta to Donna, Karen, and Jade, who got her situated. Britta became a part of our little troop. Donna said, “What a nice birthday present to discover a new friend!” I agreed.
Britta met more of the extended Rainbow family in the next few days, particularly “Gabby,” a fuzzy red-haired street-performing juggler. They really hit it off. He began to teach her some basic juggling. She also loved singing and joined the nighttime campfires music circles. Karen made her some boots, and others contributed some clothes. The only things missing were her passport and ID.
There was a group of us that decided we would leave the Gathering to busk and make some money to donate to the “magic hat.” A town not so far away that looked as though it would be good for a pitch. Peter, Karen, Jade, Donna, Britta, myself, and about 4 or 5 other people piled into a van and drove to the town.
It was a lovely little town with cobblestone streets gently weaving through the city. Houses and small businesses flanked the sides. We chose a spot where two roads merged into one, pulled out our instruments, and began to sing songs of peace and happiness. It really wasn’t long before the police showed up and asked us to move along. “No busking here.”
“Where can we busk?” Peter asked.
“I don’t know, just not here. Someone complained.” The policeman said.
So we moved down the street, pulled out our instruments, and began to sing songs of peace and happiness. Minutes later, two policemen showed up saying, “Alright, pack it up. We’ve had complaints of your racket from the neighbors.”
Britta got right up in their faces and cut loose on them! “We have just as much right as anyone to sing our songs here! Are you telling me that this is some kind of fascist state? People aren’t allowed to sing or be happy?” And it went on. I was shrinking back and thinking this could not be a good way to deal with the police when they angrily barked, “Passports!”
I thought, oh no! Britta doesn’t have a passport! This is really not going well! Donna and I keep our passports in our fanny packs and can access them quickly. We whipped them out and handed them to the policeman… who froze. He looked at the cover of our US of America passports, then looked at his partner. They didn’t ask for anyone else’s passport. They then handed ours back to us and said, “Maybe you could just move a little further down the road and sing a little quieter? Thank you.”
“Sure, no problem,” we chirped.
The police left, and we went down the street a bit and played a few more songs, but the tips weren’t coming, and we all decided to call it and head back to the Gathering.