I find myself stranded on an alien shore. The air is hot & the sun radiates in a cloudless sky. With wide-open eyes, like a rabbit, I behold a new day. As I glance over my shoulder, the ocean draws near & softly retreats… All is quite… Foamy waters reflect in pink & gold shimmers first red beams of morning sun. The stillness calms & reassures my restless mind. It feels good. I am at ease. “The scene – a real headclean.” Everything is fresh & new & novel and I am overcome with an oceanic feeling as deep blue waters roll & lick against my naked back, stretching out around me in white fields of glistening foam, before being swallowed by the sand. I take in my surroundings and before my mind imposed a pattern on them, this is what I saw:
Soft white beaches stretching in every direction of the morning; Black men raking the raw shore into welcoming patters & textures. Intriguing imagery. The shoreline is being prepared for white European tourists & their families… Something is about to happen. I could sense that their children’s awful shrieks will soon tear through the tranquil morning air & plastic buckets & rakes will litter the idyllic beach to grotesquely distort its resting beige sands. After an hour or so it began…
Sweating, sunburnt bodies slowly started pouring out of the breakfast buffets & onto the shore – too many to count – carrying pissing babies & beach baskets. They plaster the soft white sand with their Havaianas & begin rubbing sun lotion on each other – a flood of sparkling white, tan, cream, & pale red fills my vision. The idyllic silence is gone, replaced with nervous chatter & children’s squeals coming from every direction…
As they get crispier in the sun & their kids piss in the water, the smell of sun lotion & sweat rises through the air & marks the arrival of eastern looking characters with beady little eyes carrying chinese merchandise & offering massages.
The image sends a shudder down my spine.
A thriving parasitic ecosystem of hotels, shops, clubs & golf cart rentals came into being around the natural beauty of this once tranquil beach commune. Now relaxing means consuming. And consuming means spending. Spending on clothes, spending on food & drink & entertainment. Beach cocktails with loads of ice & plastic straws are perpetually served to the tanning crowd. Processed sugars are guzzled by the offspring in all imaginable forms: ice cream cones, chips, chocolate bars, bonbons, fruit juices, gummy bears & so forth. A legion of iPhones shimmer in sun. All this is accompanied by hideous facial contortions & spasmic smiles as the crowd ceaselessly takes selfies in a manic attempt to squeeze every last drop of aesthetic pleasure from the scene.
It’s too much.
I navigate towards what looks like an exit. It’s a parking lot. “Of course these freaks have some form of transportation between their day-time & nighttime venues”, I thought. “The golf cart seems to be the vehicle of choice around here”. For the predominantly white German & English vacationists the golf cart is synonymous with the holiday season. It plays a central role in the strange polo shirt & sandal reality that descends on this small Mediterranean fishing village every summer like some prehistoric mist. A nebula of cheap alcohol & vogue slim fumes that permeates all living & material things. The golf cart is ideal to lazily coast through this thick haze. From store to store. Casually purchasing new bikinis, straw hats, sunglasses, iphone covers, perfumes & even the occasional hooker along the bush roads of the village outskirts. But the neon of the night clubs does not shine that far & thus these scenes stay hidden from the average beach-goer in the dark of night. Only the used condoms in the parking lots tell a silent tale of the many ecstasies & exchanges of the previous night.
I stumble out on the street & lose sight of the ocean, still feeling the warm mediterranean breeze here on the edge between street & parking lot. A group of drunk young Germans zap by me. They have not yet graduated to the golf cart & are riding a beach cruiser (pedal quadricycle). “That will clearly not impress local females” I think to myself. I can’t see any aesthetic value in a beach cruiser. It is primitive & gives off ambiguous ice cream truck vibrations with its red & white stripe top. There were about five of them riding along – topless, sturdy built & potato faced, like every brood of respectable germanic lineage.
I leave behind the ‘beach tourism’ & take off.
By the time I reach the village center, the sun is scorching hot. Locals & tourists alike seek shelter from the midday heat wave. Sweat is oozing out of every pale white pore in sight. The shops are packed. Mothers & daughters mostly. I catch a glimpse of their pursuits through the many passing vitrines. The image is hauntingly similar in every frame: Tanned locals with bright white smiles nodding vigorously. “Si signora, Scusi signora, Grazie mille signora”… Hands snaking out to handover credit cards or hit pin buttons. Try on, take off, check out & off they go to press their rabid, thirsty eyes against the next luring vitrine; Seduced by endless silk garments, perfumes & air conditioning. “Sneaky locals! They know how to play the white man into a needless shopping spree” Soaring on their rush, like junkies peaking on a fix, the scene is replicated with slight variation in product along the whole length of the promenade. All the while, the bolding family patriarchs cruise up & down along the shops eyeing each other’s wifes & daughters… & occasionally each other. The locals are in on it. Silent & perfumed; Watching & waiting.
After an otherwise uneventful day I return to the shore in the evening, past the parking lot & closed umbrellas & settle right by the dark water amidst the garbage. It’s a moonless night. After several hours, I can’t really tell at what point exactly, the black men reappear & begin to clear the beach. By early morning the shoreline & myself are sufficiently cleansed from the previous day’s pillaging & I watch the sun rise.
After, I get up & walk up the beach, through dunes along a straw-roofed hotel bar & into a food hall. Morning shift waiters prepare the breakfast buffet. I go to the reception desk & check in.
Just in time for breakfast.