Mari’s Doppelgänger

One of our favorite things to do at Burning Man was simply to ride around on our bikes and explore Black Rock City. Any number of adventures could await you when you ventured out of camp…an offer of a cup of tea, an invitation to climb a rock wall, the chance to view incredible works of art, the opportunity to participate in a game or event.

One of our last days we were cruising around when we stumbled upon the VW Camp. We’d been meaning to find them but kept forgetting to look them up. In fact, we only found them because we were lost! It was nearing the end of Black Rock City’s existence and many of its residents had already started packing while some had even left to return to the Default World. The Man had already burned so we didn’t even have him to orient ourselves. So, without our trusty landmarks we got turned around and happened upon a welcome sight.



We had enjoyed seeing Walter the Art Car, around Black Rock City but we had never climbed aboard. {To give you an idea of scale, this vehicle is actually larger than a double-decker sightseeing bus.} We stopped when we noticed the sign and when we turned around we noticed dozens of VW buses, vans, and campers. While we had been seeing a few (mostly 80s Westfalias) around town, this was the largest concentration we had seen and included older models from the 60s and 70s. Naturally, we had to stop and say hello.

We walked up to a green camper van that looked like it could have been one of Charlie’s cousins. I said hello to a group of people who were sitting near there and they said, “Is that you, Nicole?” I replied, “No, my name is Mari. We have a green 1978 Westy just like yours!” The woman looked shocked and then said, “You look and sound so much like Nicole, a girl that camps here that I thought you were her.”

The woman enlisted me to play a prank on Nicole’s father by calling out to him towards the back of the camp. I walked over and pretended to be Nicole. This confused several of the people camping there and we got a big laugh when I finally introduced myself.

While I don’t really see the exact resemblance you have to admit that the way we hold ourselves is eerily similar.



No one instructed us to stand this way but we just did it naturally and if you heard our voices you might agree that we sound similar. So, we were having a lot of fun meeting each other when Nicole’s dad hands me a gift, a t-shirt that says on one side, “SAME SAME” and on the other, “BUT DIFFERENT.” He had gotten the shirts on a trip to Asia and happened to have an extra for me.



We changed into the shirts and took some more pictures – I even posed with Nicole’s partner to see if anyone back home would be able to tell I was an impostor. Changing into her sunglasses added to the effect.

I learned that Nicole’s family is from Guatemala and that she and her partner live in Colorado. She is a teacher who used to do marketing (the similarities continue!) and he is a firefighter (Paul was a volunteer firefighter in NJ).



Another funny coincidence is that we had just been discussing doppelgängers back at our own camp the day before. I had said that I had never really met my doppelgänger except for someone sending my sister a photo from a catalogue when we were little. The model looked just like me.

Little did I know that the very next day after that conversation I would be standing side by side with my twin. One thing is for sure, we are SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT.


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