Some people are born to camp. They emerge from the womb, gas canister in hand and hiking shoes on foot, sleeping on mountain hillsides before they even utter their first tent-themed gurgle. I am not one of them.
Feeling inspired by my colleagues’ ‘Secret beaches’ feature, a friend and I had decided to head to Musandam in search of our own slice of sandy heaven. It started well, with a hasslefree border crossing and successful negotiation with a fisherman, who agreed to take us to a deserted beach on his boat and return in the morning.
There we were, chugging along the Musandam peninsula, scoping out the shores. There was only one without people, and we weren’t keen – on it was a big yellow digger and some ugly orange material. However, the day was drawing to a close and we didn’t have much choice, so we disembarked, throwing the fortnight’s worth of luggage we’d brought onto the sand and gamely wading ashore.
As our boatsman pootled off into the distance, we sighed in contentment. It might not have been a perfect beach, but it was ours. With the sun beating a hasty retreat behind a swathe of haze and the wind picking up, we decided to set up camp and unpacked the tent my chum had borrowed. There weren’t any poles.
‘Oh well,’ I said through gritted teeth. ‘We’ll just have to sleep under the stars – there are worse fates.’ Half an hour later, sand whipping our legs like a thousand sharp slaps, we decided to head over to the area with the ugly orange material. Fortuitously, it was a tarpaulin shelter (wind obviously wasn’t a rarity in here).
We hunkered down behind it, the edges flapping furiously like angry bats, and I pumped up the airbed I’d bought. (Like I said, I’m not a natural camper.) As darkness set in, we built a fi re and, around midnight, drifted off to sleep, my airbed having deflated long ago, after a glowing ember had been hurled onto it from the flames by the (now gale-force) wind.
Half an hour later, the tarpaulin was ripped from its anchors and flew away. Every part of our bodies was encrusted with sand. At 6am, after what was possibly the worst night’s sleep of my life, a boat came chugging towards the beach and a bunch of overall-clad construction workers clambered off and started drilling. That was when I admitted to myself that I am not one of life’s campers. I tried, I really did – but I don’t like camping and camping doesn’t like me. Next time, remind me to book a hotel.