Tangerine seas and marmalade skies

Posted on January 24, 2007

8


The trip to Ras Shitan rocked. We went to a camp called Castle Beach. Not only does it kick Basata’s ass empirically, one’s enjoyment of any Red Sea camp rests entirely on the weather being clement and on the stresses of employment. Being unemployed and woefully hot when I went to Basata, I was in no mood to chill out – but I was most definitely well disposed to do so at Ras Shitan.

It is superior to Basata in the following way, among many: people cook for you and do dishes for you. There is a coffee machine! I cannot stress the importance of this enough. I do not think a time (or climate) shall ever come in my life when it will cross the outer reaches of my subconscious that there is anything to be gained by lugging groceries of every sort across a desert; inadequately bestowing them in a none-too-cold fridge while surrounded by yowling greedy cats that attempt to wrest the food from you – indeed, to enter the refrigerator after it; waiting your turn to use three measly gas rings along with countless matrons; paying through the nose for spoonfuls of oil and individual cloves of garlic; and then! washing your own dishes, also after standing in line, in nasty salt water while grouchy old men oversee your detergent use. Ahem. You see the extent of my bitterness: still alive and wriggling six months on. I suppose you’ve had enough by now.

So, at Ras Shitan there was an actual menu from which you could order every manner of tasty and moderately priced foodstuff and it would be brought to you. There were real chairs and tables should you wish to sit on them; there was a fire; there was no cell phone police; there was electricity in the huts, and bleeding windows; there were actual pillows and mattresses; there was a tiled enclosure for when you tired of being sandy all the time; mosquito nets for sleeping under, and very useful they were too; and most importantly, chaise longues. At Basata I was sleeping on my beach towel when an extremely large and inquisitive crab scuttled over to me and touched my arm with its pincer, causing me to vault to my feet with a scream. You couldn’t close your eyes for a second without being accosted by sea creatures.

You’ll want to know how I fared with the toilets – or maybe you don’t, but I‘m gonna tell you. Well, though a judicious lack of eating and drinking, I only peed three times from Thursday evening to Sunday morning. Sick in the head, I know. But I don’t usually pee much anyway. It proved trickier than I thought, because I don’t pee straight and splashed about a bit before I cottoned on to what seems to be my right-throwing stream, developing a little squat-dance probably most utilized by chickens. As for pooing, naturally I did not indulge. I don’t think my knees could have taken it. The Mouse (the new man) did indulge, however, and regaled me with an explicit and detailed account of how he did so, down to number of doodies egested, the straight path they took from butt to sewer, and the handicap he experienced because of his great height. Then he waited (in vain) for me to congratulate him on his performance, probably basing this expectation on this post, where I wished for a boyfriend who was willing to “celebrate feats of excreta”. I should have said: I want a boyfriend willing to celebrate my feats of excreta. Mo was right. I’m unfair like that.

So we whiled away the weekend chatting amongst ourselves, meeting new people, reading, sleeping, eating and smoking 6,208 joints. Random people gave us free bags of weed apparently it costs nothing out there. We rarely took off our pyjamas I tried to tell the Mouse that we weren’t “there” enough for him to wear torn plaid pants for three days in a row but he paid me no heed. He was going to heed me, but he seemed so grieved about it I shut up. At least I changed my pyjamas and wore jeans and sweats.

The stars were bright and abundant, the hazy mountains on the Saudi coast wistful, the sun rising over the sea exquisite. The silence was dark blue and velvety, and the air extraordinarily pure. It was too cold to swim but we still had a magnificent time. I hope to go there many more times albeit with a better driver than the Mouse, who nearly killed us on the way back twice (yes, yes, I know it’s not your fault).

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