When I came to Europe, I had no plans whatsoever on what to do or where to go, except one which was to meet my Rainbow Family for the first time. I started hitching from Zatec, Czech Republic where I helped out at a small organic farm. The hitch from Zatec all the way to Budapest, Hungary was very smooth and quick and only took me 2 rides and from Budapest, I took a bus up north to the small village of Bercel.
Equipped with my map and directions on a piece of tattered paper, I disembarked the bus and was immediately greeted warmly by 2 guys with great smiles. “Welcome home brother!” they called out followed with hugs. I am home!
As they were heading out to run some errands, me, Victoria the Argentinian woman I met on the bus and her 2 intelligent young daughters started our hike to the gathering site together, which according to the 2 brothers that greeted us, would only take us about an hour. 4 long hours later, with a baby pram on my shoulder and an exhausted crying toddler with us, we finally saw the sun arch we were supposed to see 3 hours ago, and just in the nick of time as it had gotten darker. Greeted with warm hugs and smiles and ‘Welcome home!’, we made our way to the main campsite and pitched tents. This is home for the next month, I happily thought to myself.
Having been on the road for the past 19 months being on the move constantly, the idea of staying in one place for a period of longer than a few days is just beautiful to me. The thought of having a home, even a temporary one is brilliant.
Food circle had just ended prior to our arrival but there were still leftovers for us to fill our bellies. The official gathering would only start a week later so there were only about 20 of us seed campers at the time. Nonetheless, it was a magical first night filled with bonfire, music, chanting, dancing, mushroom tea, and star-gazing.
The following week went very quickly. We were busy setting up the site for the arrival of our family members and that included making shit pits/compost toilets, setting up a kitchen, building the main fire and organizing drinkable running water among other things. People slowly started arriving and the ambience and atmosphere grew livelier.
I decided to move my tent from the old campsite to a beautiful empty clearing in the forest (which we later named Dragon’s Nest) by the main fire. I was the first inhabitant of Dragon’s Nest. At the peak of the Rainbow gathering on full moon night, Dragon’s Nest population grew to 25 brothers and sister and the whole gathering attracted over 1000 people altogether.
The gathering is the highlight of my European trip by far. The whole energy of the gathering was just peaceful and joyful. I would just sit there by myself on the meadow and watch the activities happening around me. A whistle flute playing in the background, dancers flying their hypnotic kites in the sky, children running around laughing, people of different backgrounds and appearances coming together sharing stories and laughter.
On a normal day, I would sit by my campfire making chapati for the other campers and family walking past. In return, they would bring chai, music or herbs. There’s actually no monetary exchange at the gathering except for the donation you can contribute at the food circle that goes towards feeding everyone present. Other than that, sharing and bartering are encouraged.
40 days after that moment I walked under the sun arch, it was time for me to leave. I would have loved to stay longer but as I had been in the Schengen zone for almost 90 days, it was time to move on. A very sad day it was. Everytime I look back to that time in Bercel, a smile creeps onto my face. I look forward to my next gathering, wherever and whenever that may be.