It’s already been a week since I’ve returned to the USA after a 7-month stay in El Gouna, Egypt.
Now that I’m back in Florida, I’ve resumed my frequent walks on the wild beach where I like to spend two or three mornings a week. I walk for about an hour and a half, on both the hard sand of the beach face, and the much softer and more laborious to walk on sand by the dunes, which is a better workout.
Like many people, I like to go for long walks on a good beach. In Gouna, I think I walked twice along the beach during my time there, for Gouna is to good beaches what Egyptians elections are to real democracy.
Today I decided to walk to Peck’s Lake, which is about a two mile walk from the parking lot at the entrance of the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, then you cut just cut across the dunes on a path that’s been cleared through the sea grape stands to the InterCoastal Waterway.
It’s the only beach habitat I have ever found — other than outside of Marsa Matrouh in the 90s — that was both beautiful and empty.
Peck’s Lake is renowned as a choice snook fishing spot; lots of boats moor here in season, but today I was early, and it was completely empty.
When I think of an El Gouna beach, such as Mangroovy, I think three essential characteristic describe the scene there: soleil accablant, plage moche, mer pleine de cailloux et rochers.
Plus, you get the pain-in-ass kite surfers, when the wind is up; the usual pestering flies; ATVs and horseback riders that barge into your attempts to commune with Nature; the plastic garbage and decidedly strangely colored scummy water (I think plutonium green describes it best); not to mention that if you sit anywhere half decent, some kid is going to run over and attempt to charge you a hundred pounds Egyptian for the privilege; and lastly, there’s construction everywhere you go.
In short, the El Gouna beach scene sucks.
In contrast, the wild beach I go to in Hobe Sound is usually empty, especially off season and you go out far enough towards the St Lucie inlet. I seek freedom and relative privacy and complete quiet on the beach, without being observed by the eyes of those who seek to make money off you, and where the only sound you hear is the roar of the surf and the squawking of sea birds.
And I detest dogs and and children running around and radios playing music when I am trying to get into some Zen like trance.
Ditto beaches where guys flex their muscles to impress whatever.
It’s not that I’m misanthropic; it’s more that I like to go to beaches where you can observe animal life, and that means beaches that are protected from development, and where few people go. I think the beaches of the South of France in summer, for example, or the Sahel in the North Coast of Egypt are to me more akin to catching a subway at rush hour than being out in a natural setting.
So the Hobe Sound Refuge is ideal for someone like me, which is why I having been coming here for the last dozen years or so. I saw one turtle nest already, so the season for that has already begun. Can’t wait to see them hatch and swim out to sea this summer.
The number of birds I saw on today’s walk was amazing. But my crap camera does not allow me to catch osprey as they soar high above then make sudden kamikaze dives into the ocean.
For that, I would need to get a much better camera with some sort of telephoto lens. There are many birds that migrate through here, and unlike third-world Egypt, no-one tries to net them: I would love to be able to take high definition pictures of them in all their plumed splendor.
I know there is at least one professional photographer who follows this blog, so any suggestions for modestly-priced equipment that does the job in that regard would be most welcome.