I don’t like camping.
I’m not one of those sorts—and there seem to be a great many of you, to be honest—who get excited about camping and bush walking and the Great Outdoors. I’m just not into it. I’m a child of the internet, of screens and amenities and microwaves. The Easy Indoors, if you will.
And yet, every so often, I think, “what the heck”. These whims are generally linked with music festivals, and I get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of camping. If I leave it long enough, I also get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of music festivals.
This, dear readers, is how I ended up at a festival called Panama.
To its credit, Panama had a heckload of pluses. Only in its second year this year, Panama limited tickets to 1000 punters only, was located on a property in the middle of nowhere (aka Golconda, roughly north east Tasmania), boasted a small but neat line-up for its two days of music, and was certainly on the more affordable end of Australian music festivals. I roped a couple of friends into joining me, we bought Friday passes to get up there early and get settled the day before the festival rush, and we road tripped our way to the great land of no phone reception, narrowly avoiding a speeding ticket for 16km/h over the limit (great north eastern magic) as we rushed to make it in the gates on time.
Friday night went better than expected, I won’t lie. While I’m not a fan of camping, I am a fan of assembling tents. I’m not sure why. The great satisfaction that comes with completion, perhaps? Let’s go with that. We scored a lovely posse just under a tree and got our two tents up without fuss as the sun was setting before a brief exploration of our surrounds. The festival grounds were a stone’s throw away, as were the drop toilets. Ah, camping. Ah, yes.
Saturday morning was slightly more eventful. Saturday morning was a harsh reinforcement of my dislike for camping, and Saturday morning was the one lingering memory of a festival called Panama 2015 I will take to my grave. Saturday morning I found a leech in my hair. It was big, it was fat, it was thoroughly sated after gorging itself on my scalp, and it fell into my hand as I ran said hand through my hair. It wasn’t the best way to encounter a leech for the first time, I’ll say that much. Do you know what’s generally tough to come by when festival camping? A hot shower. I spent an hour and a half sitting in my car, focused on the rear-vision mirror and desperately trying to clean my bleeding scalp and hair with baby wipes. It went as well as it could have gone while my scalp was still bleeding thanks to the leech’s anti-coagulant bite.
I got out of the car for the first time in an hour and a half, convincing myself to leave it be and try to enjoy the rest of the festival, when a bee stung me on the neck.
Look, the rest of the festival was fine. The drinks were good, the food was (mostly) good, the rest of the insects on the property left me alone. The crowd was lovely, chilled and not obnoxious at all (I won’t miss you one bit, Splendour in the Grass punters!), and even contained a number of faces I knew from down in Hobart. The property was beautiful (that dam!). The music was great—there wasn’t one performer or band that played that left me thinking, “I could do with not hearing this”.
But I’m never, ever going again.
I’m actually serious. WITNESS.