>"I think between the three of us, we could fend off any other hobo packs."

>That was one of Dennis’ infamous quotes after the night of our fire party with Salvi outside of Basel. See post: ‘The life of a hobo’ for some background story on that.

But I promised I would fill you in on fire party, so here goes!

The party was taking place in a protected conservation area in the middle of a forest outside of a small town called Lausen, half an hour from Basel. As I mentioned before, Salvi drew us a map of the area, and how to get to the party (I really should take a picture of the map, it’s a thing of beauty on its own). So we end up hiking through some forest for about half an hour, not really sure where we are or if we’ll ever find anyone, when we finally come upon a clearing in the forest. Soon we find a rather large pile of logs soaked in gasoline (10 litres, to be exact), and assume we must be in the right place. Salvi and his gang were hanging out in the trees not too far off, having a smaller BBQ fire and some music and lights running from a small portable generator.

After some introductions and drinks, it’s time to light the fire! The die-hards headed down into the clearing to start up the blaze, and the rest of us stayed at the lip of the clearing for a better view. After a failed attempt at a fireball, someone lit a small stick and tossed it on the pile. KABOOOM, the shockwave could be felt all through your body, and we were almost 150 metres away!! Salvi was ecstatic, running around the fire and cheering. I don’t blame him, he spent two days cutting down enough logs to burn!

Boom! View from 150 metres away. Those flames are probably about 15 feet high.

The party moved down towards the fire, but we couldn’t sit closer than 20 feet because of the heat of the fire! I have never seen a fire so hot before…at one point, the rocks in the embers started exploding! More on that later.

Cooking sausages was quite a challenge, since if you got this close to the fire, it felt like your face was burning off. Luckily, this Swiss guy was drunk enough to do it for us.

He was also drunk enough to start firewalking. At least he had his shoes on the first few times! Then he dared anyone to try it bare foot…and stepped up to his own challenge. Someone suggested wetting his feet in a pool of mudwater, so after a 10 minute swim (more what I would call a wallow), he proceeded to walk over the burning logs of this ridiculously hot fire naked down to his boxers. Leaping out the other side, he realized with dismay that one of his toes was on fire, but not until someone informed him of that fact.

As the night went on, more and more people went home to their beds in the surrounding towns. The three of us (Dennis, Ryan and myself), having nowhere else to go, were determined to stay up and party with Salvi and his close friend the whole night through. Unfortunately sleep eventually overtook us, and we found a comfy spot in the rocky dirt next to the fire, trying to keep warm. The fun part was when the rocks in the fire started exploding like popcorn. Ryan comments that he noticed shrapnel hitting his head, and whizzing past his face while he slept. He thought at first that someone was throwing stones at him. Dennis was a bit more unlucky. While he was sleeping, a red hot rock exploded and landed on his stomach, leaving a hardcore burn scar. When he woke up in pain and brushed it away, Salvi informed him “We are throwing rocks into the fire…it is very dangerous.” So Dennis went back to sleep. I love Salvi.

We woke with the first light of dawn, about 6 am. To “help us wake up”, Salvi threw a pack of firecrackers into the fire. Did I mention that we were standing about 5 feet away at the time? After running madly for cover, we managed to clean up the campsite a bit. Ryan, finding a full, unopened beer bottle, asked if anyone wanted some beer. “Give the fire a beer!” Salvi insists. Ryan complied, and we watched as the bottle cracks and beer foams out into the fire…fairly unimpressive, so we went about our business. A few minutes later, when no one expected it, the beer explodes with a hail of glass shards raining down all around the fire, where we’re still cleaning. “F***ING COOL!” Salvi proclaims, in a typical Salvi-an fashion. I was still crouching 10 feet away covering my face from any errant glass shards…but yeah…cool. We continued cleaning in the same fashion, throwing everything with the potential for neat explosions onto the fire…you know, old lighters and stuff like that. I don’t think I’ve ever run from a fire covering my head so often.

Insane.

This is all that was left of the giant bonfire the next morning. Ow @ the exploding rocks.

Yeah, so the next day is pretty much summed up in my post about the life of a hobo…we helped Salvi clean up the rest of his equipment and walked it to his place. At that point, we realized we had nowhere to go at 8 am anyway, so we went back to the fire, took our pants off, and considered building some kind of lean-to for a permanent hobo residence on the conservation. I’ll see if I can put up some of the videos from that day, they’re fairly entertaining.

Later days!

Jeff

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