The aftermath on the ‘Island of Freedom’
by Becci Fobbe
IT is 8am, I am dragging my-self, my hiking backpack and my low motivation down a narrow path amongst hundreds of other young peo-ple who look as demotivated as me. For about two kilometers (that feel like a whole marathon) we walk past plastic cups, overfilled trashcans, puddles full of dirty rainwater and portable bath-rooms that smell like a sewage plant.
I am not sure if it was last night’s storm that makes me feel like I was camping on a waste disposal area, or if this is just normal. After a whole week of new experiences and getting to know my personal borders, I, the complete festival newbie, had yet to experience another festival fact – the aftermath. I don’t really know why my first real (and by that I mean non-next-village) festival happened to be Europe’s biggest one. I also don’t really know why I thought camping for a week with 40 degrees Celsius during the day and 30 degrees at night would be a good idea. But here I am, about to leave this island on the Danube that provided me with so much fun and energy, wondering about why people are so willing to live like this for a week.
The ‘island of freedom’; love, peace and happiness – this place was a true hippie paradise. But what I see right now is not what I ever expected to see, not what I ever expected from a festival culture. I am disgusted. Not at the people who smell like they didn’t shower for a week (which they probably didn’t), not at the toilet smell or the greasy food stands I pass. I am disgust-ed at the people walking next to me, not caring about what I see. Maybe I am just naïve, maybe I don’t realize that it is impossible that tens of thousand of people don’t create a mess.
If someone asks me tomorrow what I found most astonishing about my week here I will have to say the trash. The selfish-ness. The fact that I don’t like my generation half as much as I thought I would. Am I being to harsh here? I don’t know. What about thatplace right there? A tent that is half taken down, several plastic cups, emp-ty plastic bottles and party buckets, a lonely shoe, half a roll of toilet paper, a dirty shirt – deserted by the owners. And what about over there? You didn’t even bother to put your empty plate into the trash two meters away? Were you too drunk, too drugged or too lazy?
I most certainly won’t forget the amazing artists I saw this week, or the amazing art and the amazing people. But I also won’t forget those other pictures, reminding me of that the people I shared a place to sleep with, care more about their Instagram pictures, their festival bracelet and their henna tattoos than about how they leave a place behind. Taking from an island that provided a week of fun, taking from the people that made sure you would always experience nothing but happiness. And what did they give back? A waste dump.
Becci Fobbe, Class of 2016, is a Politics and Law major from Büdingen Germany.