I’m writing this from the only air conditioned spot in the Coachella campgrounds: the Hyunday Base Camp. It’s got three hyundai cars, lots of ikea furniture, and many many plugs so you can plug in your electronic devices. Also, laptops and ipads so you can do your own email thing. Very handy, I tell you. Did I mention the air conditioning? Yeah, it’s a three sided tent with cold air being pumped in at the back. I enjoy it very much.

Why? Because even though people tell you that there’s no shade and that the sun is relentless, it’s hard to actually imagine that til you get here. We’re camped in a row of about 50 other tents with about 10′ separating us from the facing tents. I think there are 10 rows, so about 500 campsites on this particular (very small) area. THere’s been a steady line of people driving into the car camping sites since noon today, when the place sort of opened.

I say “sort of” because they weren’t really ready. Our shuttle bus driver couldn’t figure out where to drop us. After about 30 minutes of dicking around, he dropped us back at the first place he stopped. The people at that entrance said we couldn’t go in there because it was for staff only. We’d have to shlep all our bags about 3kms to another entrance. A lovely dude in a long golf cart picked us up, then got flagged because five of us with luggage all hanging out of a golf cart apparently wasn’t “road legal”. He dropped us back at the original spot (making three times that we’d been dropped there) only to find out that the scanner for that location wasn’t working (we are all wearing radio scannable wristbands), so we’d have to wait (in the blinding sun) for the fixed scanner to arrive. About 25 minutes later, the original golf cart guy came by and the head of that station’s security agreed to take us all in two golf carts to the right entrance for our campsite. We got the full VIP treatment, for realz. They scanned our wristbands, but didn’t check our bags or anything. Weird.

John and I are in a campsite that exactly fits our two tents with zero room to spare. You should see some of the tent get ups people have here. It’s unreal… there are like… mini tent houses, complete with plants and shaded and full size double beds in this area. The crazy part is, my end is mostly internationals (we all flew in yesterday); the locals (to California or the area) are the ones with all the stuff – they only had to carry it from their cars one site over.

This site is so much bigger than you’d think from looking at the map. Oh my god… it’s hard to describe. It’s about a kilometre from the tent to here, and probably another kilometre to the festival area, which is big enough for 75,000 people to mill about and still seem reasonable. I’m dead curious to see what it’s going to look like with all the people on site tomorrow.

We have our schedules, our site set up, and an overall lay of the land. The showers will be turned on tomorrow (phew – one of the people we rode in with clearly did not believe in deoderant and he’s only two sites over from us!) and the port a  potties aren’t that bad yet. They’re pretty much continually spraying down the roads to keep the dust down, but you have to know that it’s pretty raunchy dusty here. I will take a picture of my feet tomorrow – I just cleaned them.

John had a long nap this afternoon. My tent was like the inside of a pizza oven, so I sought shade and read through the festival magazine and then had the biggest piece of pizza ever for dinner. It was… heaven. I had one of the best PB&J sandwiches ever lunch, too. The food’s not cheap, but it isn’t horrendously expensive, either.

The people watching here is pretty amazing so far. There’s a real mix. Sitting across from me right now are two girls who can’t possible be 18, but off to my side is a grey bearded dude in his early 40s. Apparently there really is something for everyone. There aren’t, however, any staff who know where anything is. They seriously need to train these people better. I’m pretty sure I know where more stuff is than most of these guys. I passed a food vendor today who didn’t know if his prices included taxes or not. Uh, hello? The food vending is in process, dude. You should know this stuff.

Tomorrow is Cee Lo Green, Lauryn Hill (John and I are going for a hopefully better repeat of the Lauryn Hill concert we saw in Ottawa in 2004), Interpol, the Black Keys, Robyn, and the Chemical Brothers, who I am pathetically excited about seeing. I hope they bring their full show, because the videos look amazing.

There are tons of art installations here, some of which we can see in and from the campgrounds. Lookign forward to getting the full experience tomorrow. As well, looking forward to buying water. Holy crap it’s expensive to drink here. $2 for 500ml of water, and $4 for a bottle of pop. The refillable water starts tomorrow at noon, but we’re going to need some “at camp” water, too.

I’m looking forward to the music starting. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride!

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