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costa rica world rainbow gathering

14 hours drive to the gathering
including challenging ride on dirt roads
and a two-hour walk
from the point that even 4×4 vehicle couldn’t cross

one thousand beautiful brothers and sisters
have gathered from all over the world
to live together in nature for one month
without any electricity or cars
on a beautiful land with wild open meadows
river and jungle

everyone living in tents
many sleep in hammocks that hang from trees
that provide shade and shelter

kitchen was set up on top of one hill
one section for cooking
all on open fire
fed by wood gathered from the forest
central kitchen feeding one thousand people
with no electronic appliances
all done manually
cutting, chopping, grinding

another section of the kitchen
dedicated to raw food
preparing salads and live breads
live vegan pizzas, and raw deserts
using the sun for natural dehydration
adding flavor and energy to the food

rainbow gathering is free
from morning to night different classes,
workshops, and performances take place
yoga, reiki, african dance, raw food workshops,
thai massage, fire dancing, circus training,
live music, drumming circles
all for free

during mealtime
the magic hat goes around
singers, dancers, and musicians
going around playing music, dancing, and singing
collecting donations into the magic hat

with the money new food supplies
are purchased from local farmers
mostly fresh fruits and vegetables

thanks to the efficient running of the kitchen
and wise ordering of the food supply
the average weekly cost per person is $1
which provide abundance of delicious food

at meal times everyone gathers in gigantic circle
thousand people holding hands
singing songs
creating the sound of om
then sitting down
while the food servers go around the circle
serving food into everyone’s plates

there is no official kitchen crew or shift plan
whoever feels like helping prepare a meal
stops at the kitchen and pitches in
one or more person usually takes on the role
of focalizing the meal

each breakfast is a feast of melons,
mangos, papayas, pineapples
everyone served half melon
which upon completion of eating the inside
becomes the bowl into which porridge is served

the porridge made from corn
it takes two hours for four people
to manually grind the corn for the porridge

in the usa people pay money for such activities
such as grinding corn
it’s called gym membership
at rainbow people get to do this for free
turn the handles of corn grinders
building muscles
only in much nicer setup than a gym
out in nature overlooking the jungle and blue sky

one hour before meal is ready
kitchen crew shouts together “food circle”
letting people know to slowly begin heading
towards the food circle for the meal
as people hear the “food circle” call
they pass it on from one hill to another
making sure that everyone on the huge piece of land
hears the message

on friday the israelis took over the kitchen
preparing israeli dinner to honor the sabath
even though the kitchen has no electricity
and all cooking is done on open wood fire
the israelis decided to go for
the real middle eastern israeli dinner
including humus, tahini, israeli salad, and falafel

we were core team of six israelis
preparing from scratch dinner for thousand people
scratch meaning that the tahini had to be made
not from tahini paste but rather from whole sesame seeds
using the manual grinders
some to make the tahini
some to make the humus

tons of chick peas
were boiled on the wood fire
then manually grinded
some for the humus some for the falafel

two big pots were filled up with oil
and team of hands began making small balls
from the chick peas paste
and began frying 3,000 falafel balls

throughout the day many people stopped by the kitchen
some were cutting veggies for the salad
some to help grinding sesame seeds or chick peas
the bakery also worked full time
preparing 1,000 freshly baked pita breads
and by dinner time
the rainbow family gathered in the big circle
the sun has already set
sabath candles were placed all around the circle
to enjoy israeli middle eastern feast
followed by kabalat shabat – greeting of the holy sabath
with lots of music, singing, and drumming

being in nature without any electricity
or appliances
is no excuse for the rainbow to not have
pita bread for the humus and falafel meal
or cookies and pizza for the night parties

bakery was set up
with two big ovens built from mud
each oven piece of art in shape of mayan god
burning wood constantly placed underneath the ovens

at nights the bakery turns into the local bar
hundreds of people gather
spending hours making pizzas or cookies
while different bands play music
all unplugged and no amplification

when such abundance of food enters the body
there must be lots of body elimination
bringing us to the topic of
how 1,000 people can keep it sanitary
clean and hygienic
ensuring no disease spreads out

it takes several motivated people
to walk around with shovels and other digging tools
and recruit teams for digging shit holes

this project involves so much more
than just digging
there are clear specification for creating
fully functional, well operated shit hole

i was fortunate to be on one of the digging teams
shit hole needs to be deep enough to last longer
five feet deep is good standard
typical length of each ditch is around ten feet
width of one and a half foot is ideal
for the user to enjoy comfortable squatting experience
during the moment of truth

digging took few hours under strong sun
soil was hard and sometimes full with rocks
every half hour young woman shows up
with some cut melon or papaya or pineapple
to rejuvenate us diggers

man with guitar shows up
to sing us some songs
while we keep digging and joining in with singing
every now and then different brothers and sisters
show up with some other incentives for the diggers

man shows up and tells us that
we shouldn’t leave the soil we dug out
too close to the ditch
since people will then use too much soil
after their toilet action
and the ditch will be covered up too fast
requiring us to dig new one in few days

while moving all the soil several feet away
from the toilet ditch
had insight that for lack of better words
defined as ‘the psychology of shitting’

the reason that public toilets
whether western toilets or shitting holes
are usually nasty, smelly, and dirty
are not necessarily that people don’t care

the root of the problem is shame
people are so full of shame during what should have been
natural process of elimination
so much shame that they simply want it to be over
as quickly and as less noticeably as possible
resulting in urine and toilet paper on the floor
as well as other less than delighting sights
consciousness doesn’t play any role here
since at that moment awareness has evaporated

when the soil is too close to the shitting ditch
people cover their “shame”
with two or even more feet of soil
burying the shame deep down
never thought there was so much to learn
from digging a ditch

upon completion of our new dignified shit hole
we decorated it with paths marked with rocks
and proudly waited to see who will be the first customer
to launch the new shrine

chai shop was set up on one of the river beaches
underneath huge tree
gigantic kettle hanging above small fire
full with water from the river and spices
people gather around to drink, have conversations,
give or receive massages,
or read from a book they borrowed from
the nearby library – an open tent
with improvised shelves full with books
for everyone to enjoy

trading market set up every afternoon
many vendors offering jewelry, art, clothing,
snacks, batteries
nothing for sale
everything for trade

nine-months pregnant woman made the full journey
to get to the gathering and give birth
special teepee was set up for her
no doctors or nurses not even midwife
just mattresses and two supportive friends
who also gave birth on their own
healthy new baby arrived to the world at 9 pm
and shouts of happiness echoed from one mountain
to another
announcing “we have a new rainbow in the family”

at the bottom of the valley
river flowing inside lush jungle
some parts very dense with trees and other vegetation
some parts along open areas
creating little beaches
japanese women created sculpture garden
in the middle of the river
placing different rocks on top of each other
surprisingly managing to place bigger rocks
on top of the smaller ones

in one spot waterfall drops the water
into small pool surrounded by rocks
creating natural powerful jacuzzi
that without holding on to the rocks
the water carries the bathers away

the river banks
contain healing mud with different colors
red, yellow, blue
brothers and sisters cover themselves with mud
either the entire body
or painting beautiful tribal designs on the exposed skin
brothers with beards and dreadlocks
covered with mud from head to toe
blue people and red people and yellow people
walking around naked
or lying in the sun

covered myself with the blue mud
didn’t leave an inch uncovered
including head, beard, eyebrows, genitals
sat on rock in the sun
feeling the blue mud drying up
turning my skin into a rock
seeing woman swimming in the river
heading towards me
sticking her head out of the water
looking at the blue sculpture
that used to be my body
and tells me “you give whole new meaning
to the term blue balls”
© 2004. All Rights Reserved.
Zemach Zohar Wilson, Costa Rica, March 2004

Comment List

  • Aslan La vega 17 / 07 / 2021 Reply

    is the land in Costa rica still open fr rainbow ?

  • Zohar 03 / 09 / 2021 Reply

    This was almost 20 years ago so I don’t know about the land

  • Ashley 21 / 12 / 2023 Reply

    Sounds similar to my 2002 experience there! Such wonderful connections and memories.

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