I watched Dirty Dancing a couple weeks back followed by a documentary on Butlins (seriously) and I was thinking how that kind of all-inclusive, family fun, summer camp, resort-based holiday of the sixties doesn’t really exist anymore. At least not outside of kids summer camps. You know; days filled with bizarre activities, sloping off to illicitly hang out with the hotel staff, being cut off from the world back home and entering a “resort bubble” with an unfamiliar cast of people you don’t know very well. The kind of vacation which is more about being in a vacation mind-set with a load of other vacationers, rather than being in a vacation destination with a load of strangers, or alone.
It was about halfway through my time in Sharm I realised I was on that exact resort-based holiday. We were lucky enough to be staying in a really swanky hotel. Given the situation in Egypt we were advised not to travel into Cairo or Luxor and just stay in the hotel and although we were definitely in a gorgeous part of the world the holiday ended up being more about the resort and the people than about the country. With barely any internet access we found other ways to kill the long balmy hours. I went with my family and our close friends. All of us mixed race kids look vaguely related (and in my case Egyptian apparently) and two of us spent the week fending off marriage proposals and being told we looked like twins. The whole huge group of us bundled in for extended meals and lounging by the pool, arguing over seating and who was accompanying who to get a second dessert, who gets to hold the pen in the pub quiz, whose turn it is to fetch crisps from the bar. It was an experience of family I’ve never had before; family as tribe.
We tried archery, snorkelling, water polo and aqua zumba (apparently a thing). We spent two hours getting ready to go for dinner, watch the evening entertainment show (including two disappointing England games) and sip endless cocktails on the balcony. 3 of us kids formed a splinter group and spent hours chatting to a local shop worker and some of the hotel staff who were our age, learning hieroglyphics, names of Egyptian gods, arabic swearwords, what it is about my facial features that makes me look Egyptian (wide-set eyes/eyebrows and straight nose, “like African crossed with Indian. Egyptian. Like Nefertiti”). We heard what life is like in Egypt for our peers and told them about our lives in turn. We sat around drinking tea, all of us with smart phones and sharing photos of our friends and homes; videos of nights out and drunken dancing; hours passing quickly.
We’re lucky; we can pretty much study what we want, wear what we want and get with who we want regardless of age, gender or marital status. It was telling how the native workers fared compared to the UK employees at the same hotel. One of the Egyptian workers told me how much he hated work (long hours, minimal pay) and how long he’d been waiting to get a Visa to come to the UK. I asked him what he would do in a dream world where money, Visas and location were no obstacle? If he could choose any life at all for himself? He replied that he’d be doing the exact same hotel job except here, in the UK. We live our lives bigger and maybe as a consequence we dream bigger.
P.S. Thank you those who contacted me after my last post, I was very touched.