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My Deep Blue Sea

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We had been planning a family reunion for 12 years, ever since my parent’s generation of the family had first immigrated to their sporadic countries. The spring of 2007 was spent paying airline companies buying dozens of gifts and racking up phone bills from Washington DC to Cairo, Dubai, and Sydney. My parents, my sisters and I arrived in Alexandria, Egypt at the end of June, the last of the Boulos clan to arrive.

The very last few days of July we all decided to spend a week at the Mediterranean Sea. My mother, father, and Aunt Hala had driven up a day earlier to find a place to stay and report on the water. They hadn’t seen it in 12 years, and a lot of the other places in Egypt had changed.

But not Marina. “Sandy, the water is so beautiful,” I remember my mother gushing after she returned. Her, Hala, and my father sat eating in the un-air conditioned villa, but even as they sweltered in the July heat, the joy was apparent on their faces. They couldn’t wait to return, to revisit their childhood memories.

My immediate family and I lived with my grandmother and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins were staying with my great aunt. The next morning we drove up and helped everyone get ready to leave. Their apartment complex was on one of the busiest streets. Only a tiny pathway was left in the center for moving traffic. Shops were open on all sides, selling shoes, making falafel sandwiches, or styling hair. As the doorman brought down out luggage, my mother bought falafel wraps for the trip up. People smiled up at you from under their wraps in the street, and the shopkeepers greeted you with shining faces. Alexandria itself was a coastal city, so homey and inviting. It would be hard for Marina to be better.

But it was. During the car ride the palm trees gradually increased until they lined the streets. The rolling aqua blue waves peeked out from behind. It was a deep, beautiful blue. This water even topped the Red Sea.

We bought entrance passes for the week in order to enter a special section of the beach where they set up a place for you and bring services to you all day long. Bright orange umbrellas opened up along the sand and cerulean lounge chairs were set up underneath. Instead of the covered up women that flooded the city streets, Marina showcased tanned women in metallic one-pieces with matching bangles and platform sandals. They wore dark Chanel sunglasses, glittering diamond watches, and their voluminous curly hair loose.

Throughout the day you could see the tiny dots of people in parachutes dropping back to the aquamarine water that sparkled like a gem. The sunset painted a scene of blended oranges and pinks.

After days of begging, we decided to set out on the water. First we tried the banana boat, a long yellow raft that flipped you over into the water. Then we went jet-skiing, although we were all new at it. It was amazing to look out at the wide expanse of deep blue around you, miles away from the shore, only imagining the millions of fish living beneath.

To ride the parachute, you would get hooked on from the boat and released to float up. Sylvia and I look at each other excitedly as the men harnessed us on the bow of the little boat. We began rising slowly, and I felt my breath catch, as I realized we didn’t have seats underneath, just the thick straps. We continued to rise until we were 60 feet in the air, the water spread out like a blanket beneath us.

I could see the whole shore from here, the sand running along one side of my vision. I saw the rocky faraway shores encompassing even more blue, and the sun shining its strong rays onto the water. It was an entire city, but it felt like my own peaceful place, where I could feel the sun burn on my shoulders and taste the salt as I swam in the deep blue sea.





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