This morning the wind is giving the palm trees swan necks, they are bending their heads toward the ground. It's a relief from the heat and the humidity but mostly the mosquitoes. My hair pitches around stabbing at my face instead of sticking to my scalp.
Yesterday was the final day of the tour and 100+ degrees all day. My morning was good. I woke and worked, almost reached the rhythm of the writing schedule. Then I had to break away to meet the bus.
The El Gouna mosque is simple, the Sheik a small man with brown crooked teeth. Probably Nubian. His mosque has over 1000 penitents who line along the rough carpet in the center hall, and the women behind the latticed screen in the back. He displays the version of the Quran in the library as well as the other interpretations and messages in different languages. His call to prayer doesn't reach the resorts even though he points to his microphone.
From there we are taken to the winery. It's noon and hot and the coolness of the processing rooms is welcome. The couple who run the winery are Lebanese. He is a wine scientist and she has different degree but loves her position at the winery. They talk about the difficulty of creating a vineyard in a sandy country. They are completely organic and have impressed wine contests in France with the quality of their product. In the processing room, I see women working, moving bottles along the assembly line. Ranya tells us these women would probably never marry for being associated with the wine business.
The taxes are high, but they are proud of the wine and are eager for us to taste it.. in the heat, early in the day. We are not hesitant and I, the non drinker, and Nameen who has never imagined drinking wine or anything alcoholic, is ready for this experience.
In the cool of the tasting room we sit around a table flanked by shelves and a wine cooler. Each bottle is described and have names like Scheherezade and Jardin du Nil, white, red, rose. The taste is light as we move from the rose, through the white to the reds, low on tannins and crisp. I take little sips before putting the balance in the bucket. Nameen excuses herself to throw up even though she has had only two drops.
We are lightweights. My mother used to say she could get light-headed from opening preserved jelly. I have never developed a habit of any kind for drinking--an occassional margarita at a Mexican restaurant is mostly doused by chips and salsa. I am sure if there were cards to carry for real writers, mine would be taken from me.
Not quite like my mother or Nameen, I survived the tastes of six varietals and return to the sun.
We breeze by the school later than we should and are pushed through a tour by some students named Fiona and Bruno. The school is both national and international. Languages are emphasized. It is equipped with old technology and swimming pools but the english speaking teachers are loving and joking with the students. We make plans to return.
The tour was informative and interesting but I spend the day thinking about my writing and how the days are passing by. The parade in the heat destroys my energy and each time I return I rinse and nap. This time I lie on the bed with my story thrashing around and throwing me out from the sheets to the desk. I am excited and ready to write and I do until dinner. This feels cool and lovely, the best relationships I have and the worst ones are with my characters. We are good to each other but also can be withholding and pouty.
At dinner we have a somber conversation. For some reason, ways that hearts can be broken--in and out of relationships--with people and with ideas are de-constructed. We are an assertive group, comfortable with each other, easy to push our opinions into the conversation without delicacy. I try to throw up a white flag now and then, but the writers like the dissection of ideas and reject surrender.
It's kind of intoxicating to find a group of people who can so quickly feel comfortable enough to probe into each other's inner lives and to also be willing to engage, fairly and firmly.
The wind is making whitecaps on the pool and after dinner we sit at one end, wine on the table, me drinking coffee, excited by themes of the person's life, inner and outer. Even at midnight, when we were blasted and ready to drop we had trouble pulling ourselves away.
Dede, my character, would benefit from these conversations. Although she is shy, she is struggling with her marriage in my current chapter, she is letting her kind of loneliness lead her into a scenario that contradicts everything she has done to this point.
How i wish at the end of the night, I could bring that moment to her writing, but I had to sleep
And i did. lovely.
Causes Elmaz Abinader Supports