Last Saturday, I went to the beach, swam in the ocean for the first time in several years, and spent the whole day as excited as a child.
My trip was characterized by crowds of people: at noon, I set off to meet my friend A. at the train station. We pushed past young men, mothers and noisy children to get to the train that would take us to the Skhirat beach. Once in the train, we were lucky enough to get a seat (seats aren’t always available in second class), where throngs of people in turn pushed past us to find the last seats. After the 25 minute ride, A and I squished into the front seat of a grand taxi (four boys were already in the back seat) and arrived at the beach after ten minutes. We then walked past a sea of people, wearing everything from hijabs to bikinis, to find a place for our beach umbrella and get situated.
The sand stuck to our dry skin, making us look like the scaly-skinned Pompeian stone people in Dr. Who:
I swam through this sea to get to the actual sea, and once I’d swum out far enough, I was somewhat more alone. Though navigating around people was quite an adventure, I enjoyed the ocean a bit more. The waves were huge, and enveloped swimmers almost completely:
People also stood in shallower water to let the waves break and foam over them. I swum out further, and felt the bitter salt water wash over my pores, up my nose, and into my mouth.
After swimming, A. and I grew hungry. We walked past beach stands and surfboard shops:
And found Aqua Riva, a quiet restaurant that filled up as we ate. We ordered paninis, which turned out to be somewhat pale and greasy, and fries, which we ate with ketchup that had the consistency and taste of cherry syrup:
But tasted great against our hunger.
And returned to the beach, to enjoy them along with a magazine borrowed from my boss.
We listened to the beach DJ’s mix of Spanish, American and Arab pop music, as well as Touareg blues. Boys and men selling sugar doughnuts, ice cream and lollipops walked by. The ocean started to recede as the day grew long:
After buying sugar donuts, we returned to the train station — burnt (on my end) and tan (on A’s) – caked in sand, weary and immensely happy.