A couple of weeks ago I announced I was going to disappear for a week or two. I got the opportunity to abandon all electricity, internet and disconnect from the world for a week at the “Rainbow Gathering” near Cobain in Guatemala. I was guided by a friend I met Claire on a bus from Belize City. She is a rainbow gathering veteran having gone to over 12 gatherings all over the world and lives her life for the rainbow gathering. Before heading to the gathering I picked up various supplies
- A single person tent (Bought second hand in Flores for 450 quetzelas ($56 USD)
- Custom made tent pegs.
- A sleeping bag 110 Quetzelas ($13.8 USD)
- a mug,plastic container, and cutlery for eating.
- Various snacks and food stuff.
All of the things on that list were relatively easy to find besides the tent pegs. It turns out that no where in Saint Elena,Flores or Sayaxche sell tent pegs. After much investigation I managed to find a building materials store in Sayaxche that sold long metal rods about the right thickness of a tent peg. So after much miming and 20 minutes of me attempting to communicate to them that I wanted to get some tent pegs made with my terrible Spanish they agreed.
After much hard work and much laughing from the Guatemalan men working in the store I had my tent pegs. It’s amazing how much of a challenge simple things can be to get done when you don’t speak the language. However they were really friendly and I was impressed with how willing to help they were and that’s how I ended up with custom Guatemalan made tent pegs. So with all of my supplies Claire and I headed off via chicken bus from flores to the rainbow gathering which is located just north of Coban. After posing for some photos next to the gorgeous river we started our 20 minute walk into the Guatemalan jungle where the rainbow gathering was held.
Upon arriving at the rainbow gathering you are greeted by the welcome centre. Which is a small little camp with various people from the rainbow gathering where you get welcomed to the gathering get a nice drink of coffee and first timer’s can learn what the rainbow is about and the rules.
Some of the rules of rainbow are as follows.
- No meat
- No alcohol
- No Drugs (Although there is a large amount of weed everywhere :D)
- You have to ask permission to take photos of people.
As a result of the photo rule you won’t see many photos in this article of the people of rainbow. Which is fair enough because there is a fair bit of nudity there. Upon arriving at the rainbow I was blown away by how genuinely friendly and welcoming everybody there is. There are hugs and kisses on the cheeks aplenty at rainbow. It felt like one big happy family.
After leaving the welcome center you are free to do as you please. You can set up a tent anywhere. If living with nature away from everyone is your thing your free to go do that,you can set up your tent near other people. Or for people who don’t even have a tent there is the option of sleeping in the communal kitchen sleeping area.
During my time at the rainbow I slept in communal sleeping area, my own tent and in a giant cuddle party with about 15 other people in some random tent. Everyone is very generous and welcoming so even if you enter the rainbow with nothing you can sort something out.
In terms of food there are 2 communal food services each day called food circles. each day people volounteer to get food,prepare,cook,serve etc. When a food circle is called everybody takes their plate and forms a giant circle where everyone then holds hands. What follows is a series of songs finishing in a long ommm from everyone that usually goes for about 5 minutes. It’s amazing how powerful it feels when you have over 250 people all going ommm at the same time. After that food is served to everyone which usually consisted of simple dishes of salad and rice and beans etc.
However as the food is all based on whatever volounteers want to make you can sometimes get some really interesting meals. For example one day we all got pizza because someone took it upon themselves to build their own pizza oven out of clay and through the work of various people putting in effort together we were able to have pizza for everyone.
Thats the thing I really loved about the rainbow gathering. The whole idea is that there is no one person organizing it there is no money used (Except for donations towards food that is done after food circle in the form of a magic hat going around the circle) Everyone just trades goods or services and works together and everything works.
In terms of what you do at Rainbow gathering it really is up to you on the type of experience you want. You can choose to sit around your own camp site and relax without talking to barely anyone. Or you can go and visit other peoples tents and chill out to all of the amazing music that was being played constantly throughout the camp from big drums, guitars flutes you name it. I dont think there was ever a moment where there wasn’t some kind of awesome music being played somewhere.
People would also set up little workshops that people could take part in from Yoga,Meditation,free diving,book making to even spanish classes.
For the most part at the gathering I spent my time just walking around and meeting different people at different camps and participating in some volounteer work such as helping dig the new “Shit Pit” (There are no bathrooms in the middle of the jungle so big pits are dug where people go to the bathroom) This concept was a bit hard to get get used to in the beginning as sometimes you would be using the pit and someone would just rock up next to you and begin doing their business while starting a conversation with you.
I also got to do some daily skinny dipping in the nearby river. Everyone was doing it so I figured why not. It was liberating and alot of fun as I’ve never been skinny dipping in a river before with other people.
There was also an amazing set of waterfalls at the rainbow gathering which I enjoyed taking photos of 🙂
Overall I really enjoyed my time at the rainbow gathering and would highly recommend the experience to everyone. It was great to escape everything and meet so many genuinely friendly and content people. I could have stayed there for a month however even though I was having a great time I knew that this type of lifestyle was not for me and I wanted to get back to what I came to Latin America to do which was to travel.