Did you miss me? I’m DETERMINED to write something on my blog today as I’ve been very lax – no posts in more than six weeks – naughty Flickster! So just sit back and relax as I take you on a journey…
It’s difficult to know where to begin really, but for starters I’d like to tell you about our recent camping trip. I know now there are those of you who are already chortling to yourselves about the very idea of me camping. Yes, I admit that it is an out of character leisure pursuit for me, but given that I’ve not slept in a tent since circa June 1997 (ah Glastonbury, the Year of the Mud) I thought it best that I give it another go – after all, it’s not like I was going to have to take the portaloo challenge again was it?
PD, me and new friends J & T decided to go and explore the further reaches of our environs by taking an overnight trip to Dibba, which is just inside the border of Oman. We’d heard enchanting tales of sparkling white beaches and deserted dunes appropriated by different species of birds and mammals just two hours drive from the hectic highways of Dubai. Armed with a profusion of food and alcohol disguised as soft drink in the cool box (did you know that Pimm’s in a plastic urn keeps cold for hours and looks just like cranberry juice?), tent, night vision torches, toilet paper and T’s fool-proof directions, we set off on a foggy Friday morning.
Before I go on, I should probably list here all the things I don’t like about camping – and before you label me precious, I’m sure most girls (and some boys) – will be able to relate:
1. No showers (and those horrible ones in camping blocks where you have to wear Croc’s or Jellies to avoid verucas don’t count – they are just as bad)
2. No aircon in the tent
3. Flies. Mosquitoes. Anything with more than four legs. Flies.
4. Sand appearing in places where there should never be sand. Ever.
5. Having to ‘go’ behind a rock/ bush/ the car/ sand dune. And having to keep the used loo paper in a plastic bag
7. Being woken up by the blazing sun in a stinking tent at 5am
8. Sweaty sleeping bags
9. People I don’t know nearby – either I’m paranoid that they will rob and/or murder us in the night, or they will be too loud when I want to go to sleep
Things I do like about camping:
1. The idea of camping
5. Tinfoil wrapped bananas with chocolate inside roasted on the open fire
6. Campfire singalongs
8. Ghost stories
So, we arrive at our destination, all excited. The first thing we notice is that there appears to be quite a lot of people who’ve had the same idea. This is what it looked like:
Every one of them is in a 4WD (as are we) – because you can’t get to the site without letting quite a lot of air out of your tyres to drive across the beach. OK fine, because as we drive along the beach we notice a very nice looking spot behind a big dune that affords a lot of privacy. We head for that, trundling along the shoreline and feeling very “off-roadish”. The second thing we notice is that the sea looks kinda funny. Like, black in colour kinda funny, and the rocks look unnaturally dirty. Like this:
Then we get out of the car to dig out T, who needed to deflate his tyres a bit more in order to exceed the softer sand further up the beach, and the smell (or rather, stench) hits. Now I grew up on the beach mateys and I know what rotten seaweed smells like. It doesn’t smell like this. This smelled like something dead. Oh dear. Then some random local bloke approaches and helpfully explains in broken English that there is, “No swimming today…dirty water.” Hmmm…just as we were getting over the crushing disappointment of that, I spotted something that looked a bit like a khaki backpack in the sand up ahead. By this point we’re back in the car. As we drive past this mysterious object , I am met with the somewhat unsightly, extremely disturbing and profoundly depressing sight of what appears to be a very dead, very fly-blown turtle on it’s back being lapped at by the dun coloured wavelets combing the shore…
OK, so we’ve now established that our idyllic camping adventure is turning into a potentially noisy, definitely smelly and environmentally-suspect excursion into the unknown. I mentally built my metaphoric bridge in order to get over that reality and perked up considerably upon arriving at our preferred camping spot, far from the madding crowd, upwind and a good 200 metres from the rapidly decomposing amphibian. We set up camp, gathered fire wood (from the ground only – unlike our neighbours who we spotted later drunkenly massacring a nearby live tree) and commenced our revelries, starting with the Pimm’s. Sometime later, I know not when, but it was pre-sunset, I made the slightly sick decision to go and take a photo of the dead turtle, to show you all on this very blog. J came with me for the stroll. When we arrived at the makeshift gravesite, we were confronted by a sight that was even more nauseating than expected. Keeping in mind the profusion of 4WDs in the area, the beach looked like this:
Now this is bad enough, but catching sight of the tableau below made it even worse. (Warning – the pictures that follow may make the more gastrically-sensitive among you sick):