The tale of the tragic turtle

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

6. Hangovers

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

2. Bonfires

3. Drinking

4. BBQs

5. Tinfoil wrapped bananas with chocolate inside roasted on the open fire

6. Campfire singalongs

7. Swimming

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:

Happy campers

Hey! Looks like we're neighbours...great...

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:

Why is the water that colour?

Why is the water that colour?

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:

Mental note: beach camping in great numbers is bad for the environment

Mental note: beach camping in great numbers is bad for the environment

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):

Who would do THIS?
Who would do THIS?


I was shocked and sickened and filled with shame. WHY? Why oh why God?! J (who had refused to get even this close to the macabre discovery) eventually persuaded me to walk back to the campsite where I self rightously recounted what I’d seen to the boys and showed them the photographic evidence to prove it. PD guffawed until he was nearly dry heaving (I blame the long drive and the multiple beers).
Anyway, the rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough (save the aforementioned theft of the tree), punctuated by BBQ, flies, some very curious mountain goats skittering across the gravelly hills behind us, eager to eat the plastic bag containing unmentionables, booze,  flies, bananas and chocolate. Suddenly it was bedtime (no more booze in the cool box), and PD and I discover that even though the car is packed to the roof with all sorts of useless camping paraphernalia, we’ve forgotton our bed rolls. Who knew sand, such a soft material, would turn out to be as hard and unforgiving as stone? I spent the early morning asleep in the back seat of the car with the aircon on – ah bliss.
So, my camping verdict?
Location  – 9 out of 10
Environmental situation – 1 out of 10 (it could only have been worse if I’d spotted a dead falcon)
Company – 10 out of 10
What more is there to say – the experience was certainly thought-provoking, but it did nothing to change my precious attitude illustrated in points 1 to 9 above. I guess its just camping in the Middle East 2009 – stylee…
Flickster. xx

2 Responses

  1. I’m burning in hell for laughing along with your husband. poor turtle.

  2. oh my!… poor turtle… its look like a tire..

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