From afar the village looks very magical. Houses made from stone, wood and other assorted items of all shapes and sizes are stacked higgledy-piggledy up the mountain slope. Clouds drift gently past them. Down at the bottom is a big bright yellow geometric dome. Hmm. I wonder who lives there.
The first person I meet on entering the village is a girl of around 12 years old. I begin asking her the way in Spanish, but she turns out to be from London. Her name is Chloe and she has lived in the village for four years. Chloe directs me to the Communal Kitchen, where guests can sleep. It´s very dark inside when I enter and is almost exactly how I picture the “Worlds End” Inn from the Sandman books. A huge wood burning stove sits in the centre of the room, with a big pile of sticks just in front of the door. At the far end to the right is a big table with candles and people sitting around talking, playing music and smoking. To the left is a raised platform with four mattresses in a row and another platform the same above it – like a giant bunkbed with space for 8 people, or a lot more if you all squish up. Smoke, music and banter fill the air.
I say hello and sit down at the table, exhausted. I am given a black cat to warm me up and people come over and ask who I am, where I´m from and how I managed to find this place. All of the other guests have come from the Rainbow*. Most are from Spain or France, except David, who seems to be from everywhere, and Rachel from Oxford. Rachel and I immediately begin looking for the missing link between us – the person we both know in common – which turns out to be Martin Shaw. It´s a small world, oh yes.
*A quick note about the Rainbow. Almost everyone I know looks down on Rainbow People. For example, at Escanda, when I mentioned Matavenero, Itay scowled and said he thought it was mostly Rainbow People there. I decide to suspend judgement. Everyone seems nice so far.
There is a pizza party happening in the Panaderia next door, but I´m exhausted after a long days hitching and take opportunity of the silence with everyone else out. Too tired to be sociable. I will go out tomorrow night. I find a bit of mattress and spread out my sleeping bag. Earplugs firmly in.
I awake ten hours later to the sound of chatter and the stench of stale smoke. Eurgh! All I can think of is fresh air! – fresh air! – fresh air!
I go for a little walk. I find the biblioteka (library), just above the Communal Kitchen, where the shop is about to open in a room leading off from it. The village shop opens for two hours a few days a week, and sells honey, herbs and tinctures from the village as well as bread from the Panaderia (aparently, I didn´t see any) and some other stuff like milk, choolate and fruit. In the shop I meet Stefi, who is part of the shop group and working there. She reminds me of a German version of my friend Mindy, and I like her immediately. Stefi knows a bit about herbs and, more importantly, she knows about my armpit. Although she can´t remember the name, she has a friend with a similar problem, and she can give me some of the herbal tea she has made to help with it
There are other communal spaces in the village. There is the bar, which does not serve alcohol and the panaderia, where they make bread and also where the Pizza Party was held. The Panaderia also has… A TRAPEZE!
The Communal Kitchen is really more of a basic hostel, with a box for donations, where village guests eat, smoke, sleep, smoke, play music, smoke and sleep some more. Maybe it´s not usually like this, but with the dregs of the rainbow gathering, it´s like a big stoned soup of smoke, dreadlocks and guitar playing.
A French guy with long drown dreadlocks, big brown eyes and a skirt looks at me sorrowfully. “Problem?” I ask. “Yes. I have problem. No chillum. You have chillum? You have chillum in bag?” “Um..No.. Sorry.”
Later the same man gives me a very earnest half hour leture in broken English of the various health benefits of “drink pee-pee”. I have no idea what prompted him to impart this information.
I have to say that apart from Anna, David and Rachel, Rainbow People are living up to their reputation. This says nothing about the actual residents of the village, very few of whom I have actually met. Rachel is very keen to stress to me that this is NOT what Rainbow is about.
Because of the noise and the smoke, I go in search of a new place to sleep. I take my tent and my torch and wander down the path towards the yellow dome. The fog is thick and I can´t see more than a few inches in front of me, even with the torch on. I have to move very, very slowly. For some reason, I have an irrational fear that I will suddenly see a horse. There are horses here, and although I have never been afraid of them before in the daytime, I feel certain I will be afraid of their big dark eyes in the fog.
I reach the yellow dome. I have been told it is in fact not a house, but a space they use for gatherings and concerts and things, only at the moment it is full of water. I look inside. It does have a lot of water in, but only at the front. Despite the fog, the dome is illuminated by some light from nowhere and has lightly glowing triangular panels at the top. It looks a bit like a 1960s idea of a spaceship. It´s dry at the back and it´s not too cold. There´s a carpeted platform, which must be used as a stage. I decide it will be a lot easier to sleep here than putting up my tent in the dark. I see a bit of horse shit and put a table across the open doorway. I don´t want to wake up with a horse staring at me… or standing on me!
And so the big yellow dome became my big yellow bedroom, at least for one night. In the morning I put up my tent nearby and slept in that the following night. A humble abode, but my own space and away from the village. Beautiful views in the morning and a lovely spot for some meditation. I even had my own compost toilet and a cold shower in a little pyramid.
I spent three days in the village. During the day I took walks, or hung out with the sane people in the Kitchen, having long chats about polyamory with Rachel and eating the castañas (chestnuts), that David kept us all supplied with. I could have stayed longer, but for the weather and the stoner soup in the kitchen, and the lack of independance – no way to get my own food, etc.
Oh, and when I woke up in the yellow dome, a horse was standing outside the door, looking very puzzled that the table was there. But horses aren´t scary in the daytime.
How I first heard about Matavenero: this girl´s travel blog.