This past weekend, I traveled to Ain Sukhna, a popular beach on the Red Sea, with the Arabic Language Institute on one of their egregiously swanky trips. Though I was initially excited to experience an Egypt other than Cairo, I realized shortly after arriving at the resort that Ain Sukhna is neither a part of Egypt, nor a part of civilization in general. As a resort, it belongs to a class of places that is removed from time and space as well as sterilized of both culture and reality. Indeed, the whole point of a resort is cultivating a state of complete relaxation that closely resembles death. If it seems like I’m complaining about a free weekend at a five star resort on the cobalt waters of the Red Sea, my response is, “Yes. I am doing exactly that.” And I think you’ll see my complaints are legitimate.
1. Our stay at the resort did not include the elixir of life itself: water. The breakfast and dinner buffets were almost completely dry, and did not offer alcohol, juice, water, sugar water, etc. Since I was not willing to spend extra money, I subsisted off of the 4 cups of coffee at breakfast and dew I licked off the grass in the early morning. As a result of the crippling dehydration, I was plagued by bizarre thoughts about wanting to be a sea creature, leading to many ill-advised attempts at settling permanently under water.
2. Resorts are creepy places. This particular one was about 40 kilometers from the nearest city, and it was an entirely enclosed compound, a world unto itself. The longer I stayed, the more I felt my humanity leaking from me as I slowly forgot my former life, the one where I drank water. Furthermore, Ain Sukhna falls where the Eastern Desert meets the Red Sea. This isn’t one of those wacky deserts full of vegetation and animals. It is barren. Despite this, at the resort one can find blossoming gardens, twittering birds, and broiling humans. None of this should be here. It is a desert. We should just call this whole thing quits and go back to fertile land.
3. The weather was too hot. I simply can’t understand how people find self-roasting (immolation) pleasant. Don’t they know they’re dying? I wanted to understand the others, and so I spent an entire day outside in the scalding heat, cowering from the sun under an umbrella. However, probably due to the dehydration as well as the heat, I felt weaker than I ever have in my entire life and remained plastered to the lounge chair like a deflated beached animal, drifting in and out of consciousness and trying to remember what it was like to have thoughts. Next time, I will have no shame in embracing indoors and air conditioning.
One might say I should have expected all of this from the words “resort vacation on the beach,” but I had yearned for more. May my next trip outside of Cairo be a fount of creativity and not a sinkhole of lethargy.