The Cult of Water

As we drove back to San Francisco from a hike in Marin my friend told me he wanted to get water straight from a spring.  In the back of his pick-up truck were seven one gallon glass jugs and two ten foot long copper pipes he was hoping to use to funnel the water.

We pulled to the side of the road next to the below sign.

A man was already filling his jugs with the water. My friend thought it was a man named “Christian”. Upon closer inspection there was nothing Christian about the man. His hair was dyed bright red, his ear lobes were stretched out with massive hoops and his pants were of the baggy variety and paisley pattern not seen since MC Hammer was last on the Arsenio Hall show.

This man said he knew Christian and that he was using his water vortex machine to tap the water from the spring. He had sixty gallons of empty jugs he was filling. My friend kept hinting that he wanted to fill up only seven gallons, but the Heathen advised us that he was already in a rhythm. If we butted in, it would mess up his whole process. This process consisted of sticking a five gallon glass jug under a spicket, letting it fill, drying the outside of the jug with a paper towel, then sticking the massive jug into a tight blue canvas covering, hoisting the jug into the trunk of his Volkswagen Jetta, drinking some water, then rinsing out another jug to start the process anew.

The wait was long, but the hour and a half was not excruciating. Across the Pacific Coast Highway from the water source was a hundred foot cliff overlooking the ocean. The sun was coming out, so I snapped some pics with my cell phone. My friend kept asking questions about springs and water but Heathen only wished to talk about how he was able to pack fifty gallons of water into the trunk of his Volkswagen Jetta.

A Subaru Outback with a kayak on its roof drove up next to us. An older woman with long gray hair popped out with her empty water containers. She also passively asked Heathen if she could quickly fill up, but that idea was quickly kiboshed. She asked if he knew Christian. Heathen responded again that this was Christian’s water vortex contraption he was using. And then again he remarked how amazed he was that so much water fit in his trunk. “If I only had a camera.”

The woman took a picture with her phone and e-mailed it to Heathen. She next asked Heathen if he was going to Burning Man.

“What’s that?” he asked.

She began to explain, “It’s a weeklong festival out in the desert.” but then she saw his smirk and caught on that, of course, he would be there. “Where are you camping?” she asked.

“With my fellow fire dancers.” he said between sips of water. I had never witnessed a man drink as much water as this Heathen fire dancer. When he finally finished he was kind enough to let us use the water vortex contraption. Before we left he handed my friend a business card. On the front and back he was shirtless. It listed his name. Below that it listed his occupation, fire dancer. Nowhere on the business card was there any mention or glimpse of water.


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