Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ain Sokhna

After church on Friday we headed out to Ain Sokhna. Although we had been in December with Andrew’s family, we hadn’t stayed in the condo, or chalet as they call them here, since August, I believe. Everything was coated with a thick layer of sand that had blown in from the cracks around the doors and windows, large dead cockroaches were scattered about in various rigor mortified positions, and desert ants were parading around the front room.

It was as if the whole Sahara desert had decided to move in while we were gone.

We had brought our friend Nacia along, though, so we had five able bodies to help get the place back in order. We stuck the girls in the backyard—the one with self-control was allowed on the grass while the one without it was stuck in a play pen. After we had swept and dusted and made sure the water was working properly we decided to go to the beach, which isn’t ordinarily something we do on a Friday but sometimes we make exceptions to the rule.

The beach was beautiful, but crowded since it was so late in the day. We had had to walk nearly the whole way to the beach, which was a little taxing on some of us, and then when we got to the beach we found out that the last bus out to the chalet village would be leaving in a half hour.

I knew Rachel wouldn’t go for that since she was proudly proclaiming, “This is our new house! We moved here! And our backyard is a beach!”

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Grandpa found, and caught, a crab which fascinated everybody.

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Andrew got a little annoyed with the beach patrol. He likes to wear a shirt when he swims at the beach because he doesn’t like sunscreen but he doesn’t want to burn. Well, the “security” at the beach whistled at him when he was out in the water and told him that he couldn’t go into the water with his shirt on.

When he questioned why, the “security” guy told him it was to preserve the image of the beach for the tourists. They want the tourists to see the progressive side of the Middle East, I guess, and didn’t want Andrew spoiling that by being all modest and wearing a shirt while swimming. Andrew tried to fight it by saying that he was a tourist, but in the end he gave up and decided to be the one to take my dad and Josie back to the condo. So Nacia and I stayed with the girls.

Before leaving Josie remarked, “I don’t know why I’m so tired!”

“It’s called jet lag,” I said, “I don’t know why I’m so tired, though!”

“It’s called mother lag,” she said.

Oh, so true.

Nacia, Rachel, Miriam and I had a great time on the beach, although our fun was interrupted by an Arab family who wanted to see Miriam. The father is a top notch police officer who made me eat like a whole pound of cashews and the mother was absolutely smitten with Miriam and kept bragging about everything they owned. Each time she mentioned something that she had she would turn her face, raise her eyebrows, and say,

“Is that not the best? Is that not good? You are impressed, no?”

It was kind of…awkward. I suppose she was happy with her status as a rich Egyptian living in Lower Egypt since both she and her husband are from Upper Egypt, the population of which is typically very low class. They tried to make us promise to join them for dinner but we declined, pulling the “I don’t know if my husband will give me permission” card.

I don’t think that excuse would work in America, but it does the trick nicely here.

We left them when the sun started to set and hardly even got lost on the walk back to the condo. We had a quick dinner when we arrived, then put the girls to bed and played some games. The girls had a few problems falling asleep—they thought it was hilarious that they were both in the same room—but after awhile they settled down. I could still hear noises coming from the bedroom after the giggling had subsided so I popped in to check on them. Miriam was nearly asleep in the play pen and Rachel was lying on the bed.

“Shhhhh, Momma!” Rachel said, “I’m singing Miriam asleep!”

Soon they were both out, but we had them swap spots before we got in bed. Miriam is simply easier to sleep with than Rachel, so we put her into bed with us and had Rachel sleep in the play pen. In the morning she told everyone how funny it was that she slept in a crib.

We took the first bus out to the beach and stayed until 2:00. The water was just about warm enough to make me happy, but not quite. I did get in, though. Miriam ate a lot of sand. Nacia and Rachel played hard and built a sand castle. Andrew and Josie got buried in sand. Grandpa held Miriam a lot. We all should have reapplied sunscreen more often than we did.    

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Andrew and Josie were actually standing up when we buried them. They had dug big holes and were standing in them, so we covered them, had them sit down, and then they laid down in the sand. The resulting sculptures were very awkward.

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While we were working a girl came up to us to gush that Rachel was “insanely cute.” We totally agree.

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We also think Miriam is cute, although we had to ban her from the sand after she started double-fisting it. She ate so much sand.

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Later, when Nacia and Rachel were building their sandcastle some Egyptian kids built a sand-pyramid. It was awesome.

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Then Rachel and Nacia started cooking sand-food and while Rachel was flipping some sand-pancakes she decided she’d sample some. She came running to me, begging for water and wondering why Miriam likes to eat the sand when it is so yucky. I had no answer.

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Andrew finally ended up putting his books down long enough to go into the water (well, and to buried up to his neck in sand). He even kept his shirt on and the immodesty police (that would be the police promoting immodesty instead of modesty) didn’t blow the whistle on him. Probably because they were too chicken to blow the whistle on the ladies swimming in their burkas.

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Josie and I finished the day with a relaxing swim. The water was warmer after the tide came in, I thought, and became a majestic blue. It was too tempting not to get in for one last dip.

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When we got back to the condo, the girls were banished to the backyard again while everyone else packed up. This time they both got to play in the grass—I figured Miriam had eaten so much sand by this time that a few fistfuls of grass wouldn’t do her any harm.

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Ain Sokhna is always the perfect way to spend a weekend. I wish we could go more often and will certainly miss the perk of a free beach condo when we get back to the States!

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