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Tribal Gathering Festival billed as 'paradise on Earth' loses communal luster when coronavirus quarantine prevents attendees from going home

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'At first it was like a paradise, but when you are locked in, it's not paradise any more'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The Tribal Gathering Festival — a two-week granola utopia shindig on a Panamanian beach — was "designed to be a temporary paradise where people from Western cities could learn from indigenous communities how to rebalance society and live in symbiosis with the Earth," according to a short documentary on the festival by Vice.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the Panamanian government placed "paradise on earth" on lockdown on March 15.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

But seriously — how bad could being forced to stay in drum-circle heaven be?

Indeed, the communal ecstasy appeared in overflow mode. One Vice clip showed two women cuddling with a very happy looking guy as they announced that the festival inspired them to begin "connecting with ourselves" and "hugging Mother Earth."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

But as the documentary narrator noted, "Earth doesn't always play ball."

One festivalgoer summed it up for Vice: "At first it was like a paradise, but when you are locked in, it's not paradise any more."

'Don't try to steal our food'

Case in point was when a festival organizer read a decidedly non-socialist riot act to the crowd sitting cross-legged on the sand.

"If you want to eat food here, you have to buy it, OK?" he said. "We're going to offer people here who are a bit poor to be able to work and all of that kind of stuff, but you're going to have to work." The official added, "Don't try to steal our food; I'll get really upset with you. And remember where you are — you're in my f***ing manor."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Where, oh, where have you gone, Karl Marx?

A 'sewage system' problem

Festival attendee Peter Grant told the Guardian that the beach wasn't too bad — at first.

"The festival organizers were great," he said. "They were delivering food and provided us with big tents to shelter in. There was also running water."

But Mother Nature stopped cooperating, he told the outlet.

"It rained nonstop for a few days," Grant said. "There was no sewage system, and disgusting water was pouring everywhere. Not only that, a few people have mental health issues, and they started really struggling."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Soon, as the days stuck on the beach dragged on, folks described "an element of dread and worry and panic."

As attendees tried to arrange flights to little avail and get word to their respective embassies, the documentary narrator concluded that "the global community quickly became a list of distinct nationalities" according to who had the best chance of being extracted.

'I just want to go home'

Soon the lockdown was no longer being enforced, but dozens of attendees were reportedly still on the beach, the Vice doc noted.

And one attendee who was able to leave got immediately stuck in Panama City for 30 days since there were no flights out of the country.

"I feel really sad," she said. "I just want to go home."

Here's the video. (Content warning: language):

From Paradise to Hell: Trapped at a Music Festival Because of COVID-19 youtu.be

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