We had a three-day weekend this week, beginning yesterday. The 6th of October is when Egypt won the Sinai Peninsula from Israel, so much celebration is needed. I happily spent yesterday doing nothing at all, relaxing around the apartment and working on a painting. But today, Holly and I joined my friend Magdy and headed up to Alexandria, a two+ hour ride from Cairo by car. The drive concluded with a visit to an apartment where, behind the bed, a cockroach was curled up dead and a rusty fan spun perilously overhead, but what’s an adventure without insects and the possibility of being impaled by a fan blade? Not a fun adventure, that’s what. Luckily this was only a stop en route to the beach.
It was totally worth it.
Shunning the Jersey shore for the chilly streets of Buenos Aires all summer was difficult, but this one day in Alexandria compensated for all the lost days of July and August. Being there reminded me of how much I’m tied to the beach, and how much I love every part of it. I love how salty-stiff your hair gets after swimming in the water and how much like straw it feels after drying like that in the sun. I love the way the sand feels beneath my nails and on my feet, especially the sand here. I’ve never been to a white-powder beach before, and this sand was so fine it felt like wine when you poured it over your hands.
And don’t get me started about the water. It was cool at first, but I jumped right in and swam out until I couldn’t touch the bottom anymore and I could still see my poorly painted toenails through the transparent blue water. I tried to label the type of blue that the Mediterranean is, but it’s unlabel-able. It’s a thousand different blues and even a little bit greenish, turquoise. It was warm and the sand – unless you were brushing your toes against an unsettlingly furry rock – was satin-smooth beneath the tide. I spent most of the morning floating over waves and drifting in the current. The phrase “happy as a clam” is truly applicable here.
I slept beneath a straw umbrella, wandered the shoreline rescuing scallop shells – which are much smoother than they are in Jersey -, and swam and rolled in the undercurrent like a happy fish.
Despite the long ride back to Cairo, which took us through an unchanging Saharan landscape, I would go back again and again just to flounder about in the Mediterranean and stub my toes on behemoth rocks.
for whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
– e.e. cummings