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On land and under water

I sit with the boys at the SeaView,
We roll smokes and listen to music. We drink sweet tea with sage in small cups.
We play cards at times, joke and talk. We get tangled between our three languages. With only .5% of us fluent in two of those languages simultaneously, we manage to communicate. The boys feel like my younger brothers, simple and sweet. And we all have a common love, the Sea.

The Sea .... it was calm like a sheet a few hours ago, but as soon as darkness dispelled the last traces of light, the wind blew heavily.
The tide is now high.
From 7 knots at five, to 28 at eight.
The South-Eastern winds have changed direction and are now coming from the North.
The Northern wings toss a Specials chalk-board across the street. There is no one there. No alarm by the flying wood.

Dahab feels deserted these days. I like it this way. There is probably no more than a dozen tourists. It's mainly just the people who live here-who are here right now. Several scuba centers and hotels are closed for the season and the uprising in the nation. The few still open are using their spare time to fix the signs, clean the ceilings and paint the walls. It's a new moon, a good time to do spring cleaning.
With less to do, the locals drink tea and sheesha at work, they make visits in the evening, cook and eat together. They help each other connect a hose to the neighbor's pipe to get water ... it comes only once a week, and to some houses, it does not come at all. The more fortunate of us have pumps. We use the off season in pretty much the same way, but in addition can afford to snorkel or dive, ride the Honda Baja up to Mt.Moses on a Friday, unstopped by tightened security at checkpoints or the general situation.
The wind is strong, it is clearing away everything, in time ....
the best time to be anywhere is off season; not staying at fancy beach hotels or the camps, but between the homes of the people.

Here, the population is composed of Arabs and Egyptians, a few Westerners on extended stays, and the tourists. The Arabs and Egyptians are composed of the Bedouins, the Sa'eedis, and the Fallaheen (more to be said on each later).
Here, there's an intricate balance between the bikini wearing blond, and the bearded shop keeper. Quran plays in many shops, others are wired to the news of Masr, and next door is music. The music is usually stopped when the call to prayer is heard.
Here, it is diverse, the sea is here, but little drinking water.
In the middle, things are rooted.
The nights are back to quiet, after the neighbor's fight a couple of nights ago.
Quiet .... the normal night ambiance is of roosters, cats, dogs, and goats.
Together, they conduct a nightly midnight orchestra, a symphony at times, at times they sound like kitchen clatter.

Last night, in a dream: Apollo and I challenge each other to who can stay longer underwater. We sit at the bottom holding our breath. I see a few words and am about to go out of breath. Then I think about something else. Time passes as I talk. I realize that I'm breathing underwater as if on land."

Today, underwater, visibility was low, but it was warm ... 23 degrees.
It feels colder on an empty stomach, the deeper you go and the longer you stay under.

Above the Sea, the sun shone through down to the bottom.
It was warm upon ascent.
On the side of the street, it felt like summer.
For lunch, I ate a falafel sandwich and understood
how one can live with very little and be happy.

Today at SeaView, I sit with the boys from Za'azee', the capital of alsharqiyah. We listen to a song from their district. They've been playing it since last summer: "من النهاردة ما فيش حكومة". It felt very relevant last week.

It's nighttime .... In the sky, the smile of cheshire cat is bright gold in the West. On the ground, a cat cats under the tabliyah (short table suited for floor seating). Um Kalthoom sings on the speakers. My stomach growls. "Let's go eat pizza", "Yes"
But twenty minutes later, we're still here ... I guess we can eat later.
For now, it's um Kalthoom and a sarookh.



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