May proved to be its usual, boisterous self with our customary trip to Sebastopol, California for Tribal Fest 11. And this year had promised a lot being the year that “Goes to 11” from the words of the infamous Spinal Tap movie. TF11 surpassed 10 for sure, and was energetically amplified to 11. From performances that portrayed the theme of Spinal Tap to all of the first-time, brand new performances of my dancer idols like Unmata, Princess Farhana, and more… this show was surely not to be missed.
One of the best parts of the week-long trip was that we got to make it in our brand new ambulance-turned-camper-van. It had room for everyone and it was so much fun! A little harder to park and drive on the narrow roads of wine country, but still a blast. Each year, a large group of us rent a house together and have a great time cooking together, eating, laughing, and drinking wine. This year would be no exception. Although our trip to the house this year was filled with a small amount of peril when Nic and Debi’s iPhones directed us onto a “shortcut”. As we were driving, I began to have the sense that we were not traveling the proper way to our destination. But being in the new ambulance that is 20 feet long and 8 1/2 feet high, there wasn’t much option for turning around on a one way, narrow, mountain road. At first we began to worry what we would do if a car came traveling down the road from the other direction. I mean, we can’t even see the road under the van, it’s actually more narrow than the vehicle.
But soon we would have traveled so long on this road that day turned to night under thick vegetation and tall, spooky trees. It would literally go from blue afternoon skies, to pitch dark caverns from moment to moment. Feeling like we were in some “Blair Witch” movie, we started to panic. If wasn’t the right way, where were we headed? I turned on my phone, which only had one bar of power left and crossed my fingers for the best. I had voice navigation on my phone and all I hoped for was to get out of there, wherever “there” was. The woman on my phone talked in her nasal-ey, unemotional voice. Not caring that we were scared and trying to get out of where we were. She just kept directing us and occasionally checking for traffic – which was providing comic relief for sure, as we would all yell at her to check for deer in the road instead since there were no people, no cars, nothing in site for miles.
“Checking route for traffic.”
We finally made it, about 2 hours off schedule from our little detour, a little haggard and tired but happy to have arrived to be greeted by all of our friends. We had a few new people staying with us this time and we were unsure if they would be a “fit” with our group. When I walked into the doorway, I heard laughter and fun and really got excited. Going further into the house, we were welcomed by all of our friends, both new and old. I glanced about the room and noticed 7 empty wine bottles. I let out a sigh of relief. I knew that this was my crowd if they had already emptied 7 bottles of wine for the evening. I was stoked!
We had a great time at Tribal Fest. Making new friends and spending time with old ones. We were fortunate enough to get several “free” impromptu shows by Frank Farinaro – one of our housemates – as well as extra henna sessions with our two amazing henna friends, Debi Varvi and Nic Tharpa-Cartier. We were visited by the Jerry Springer show more than a few times and everyone learned to do my baby belly dance zaghareet. I also got to see my very first ever design, tattooed on one of the Kumuda Tribal girls. The tattoo artist did an amazing job and it was so beautiful. I feel so honored to have my artwork permanently placed on a gorgeous dancer. Wow! It was an amazing week.
The festival ended on Sunday and we stayed through to Tuesday, leaving Monday as a “free day” to do whatever we liked. Frank, Nic, Debi, and I all stayed for the extra day. Nic wanted to see a California beach so we took him to Bodega Bay. Now, all of you Californian’s know that a Southern beach is so much different from the Northern beaches. But Nic being from Boston had not gotten to experience the different beaches yet. Boy did we pick a great day. (insert sarcasm here) We got there and it was SO windy we could not believe our eyes. Good thing we were somewhat bundled up for the day and had sweatshirts on hand. It was freezing and the wind caused the sand to blow sideways. Debi and I kept joking about how we were getting facials from the sand blasting. Leave it to us to have fun on a day like that. We really did have a great time, walking from wind break to wind break. Shooting pictures of each other. Acting silly and battling the wind in between.
After our day out at the beach, we decided to take Nic to have some authentic Mexican food at a nearby Mexican restaurant that we had spotted on the way up the coast. We arrive, starving and covered with sand. We actually leave little sand outlines from where we were sitting when we are finished. The waiter arrives and hands us menus and half of the items on the menu are not Mexican food. So much for taking him to have authentic Mexican food. When we ask if they have chips and salsa, the waiter explains that they don’t have them but would be happy to bring us some bread and butter. Bread and butter?! People, Mexican restaurants – even chains – have chips and salsa. We just couldn’t get the day to cooperate with us. We did order some items that had Mexican food names and the food was very tasty in the end, thank goodness. Although it definitely was not the authentic we were looking for.
The day ended with an incredible evening in the jacuzzi back at the house. It was nestled in a little nook of foliage next to the pool and was just perfect for drinks and chatting all evening. And not even the imaginary surprise house guest could detour our fun, thanks to Frank who protected us all with his heroic actions.
To be continued…