Monday, July 17, 2006


Well, I came back from the camping trip almost in one piece. I'm sick as a dog today, but that is because I was already getting sick when I left and the camping trip made it worse.
We went to Watch Hill campgrounds across the water from Patchogue, L.I. It is a beatiful, civilized place, with (cold) showers, functioning bathrooms with toilet paper, grills, a snack bar, a bar, boardwalks, etc. The beach is very pretty. But, the mosquitoes kill all the fun. One needs to be poisoning oneself with DEET in order to survive. I got even sicker from breathing all that poison.
So on the first night, it was the mosquitoes. The next day, the beach was invaded by flies. Big, stinging flies, tiny stinging flies, and every kind of fly in between, except the tsetse fly. These flies are the kind that attach themseves to your skin and nibble. We had to pitch the tent on the beach because you couldn't sit there, surrounded by swarms of flies. So my question is: what is the point of all this schlepping and traveling by train, automobile and ferry to be attacked by hosts of insects?

Luckily, I only stayed there overnight. Apparently, Friday night was so bad for mosquitoes, that two of our fellow campers retreated in a panic and took the last ferry out of the island. I would have probably done the exact same, but I arrived on Saturday morning. Before I could say hello, I had already been bitten by the pests, but the beach was delightful, and mosquito-less. I saw the damage inflicted by the mosquitoes on one of our friends: her body looked like polka dots. So I armed myself with OFF, and with that legendary Skin so Soft by Avon. Total bite count: about nine welts. Not too bad.
The $34 tent I bought at Kmart turned out to be one of the marvels of human engineering. I nominate it for Eighth Wonder of the World. Not one mosquito made it inside. The $11 fleece sleeping bags were great, but didn't do much for the hard camping floor.
At night we went to neighboring Davis Park to a bar where there was dancing. I was amazed to see everybody there was white. There were no other kinds of people, whatsoever. That was a bit shocking to me, coming from NYC. Everybody was wearing sort of LL Bean clothes and looked all-American beefy, which gave me a bit of the heebies. But we had a good time, dancing like maniacs. Then back to our tent, where I did not sleep for one second. Too uncomfortable. At dawn I heard a symphony of birds singing, but I was in such a bad mood that it did not occur to me to get out of the tent and birdwatch. Oh, well. I think nature is highly overrated. Certainly camping is.
Most of us campers come from countries where the beach experience is far more sybaritic, and less punishing. It is not do-it-yourself. In Mexico you don't have to schlepp anything to the beach; everything you could possibly need, someone will sell you there. There are already palapas, for shade, there are delicious Mexican homemade antojitos for snacks, wonderful beers with lime and grains of glassy sand, and even the ocean's temperature and currents are friendlier.
Next time, I'm taking a car, and I'm not carrying anything and I am certainly not camping.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:18 PM

    My dear:

    Camping is highly overrated.
    I've tried my best to pretend that I could live on the barest of essentials, but, camping doesn't even include such things as one's own private idaho moment in a toilet or a tepid shower. This is best left for Robinson Crusoe types, or as The Post likes to call them ..."retrosexuals". (Have you noticed how these marketing terms are creeping into every little thing?) any rate, I hope your welts have healed.
    The old wive's tale from the fair isle of Cuba is that if you make a sign of the cross on the already painful little welt, it will heal faster...we love to suffer, too!--glad to have you back in civilization!