It’s been a cold winter here and a cold spring. Even now, in the middle of March, it’s only 73F and usually, by now, the temperature hovers in the low 80s.  Weather, here, seems to mean two things: wind and sand.  Sometimes the sand hangs so thickly in the air it looks like fog…and then you realize that everything is coated with a thin film of grit: hair, clothes, shoes, skin, eyelids.

The other day, though, the wind stopped blowing and the sand settled down, so we went to the Corniche for ice cream and a walk along the beach.  Everyone else in the city had the same idea, which meant the beach become an easy illustration of all the different types of people who call this city home.

Everyone has to be warned about how to dress:

But people define “appropriate” in all kinds of different ways:

Ah the banana hammock. I contemplated showing this man the sign about “appropriate,” but I’m not sure he’d see things my way. Gotta love that European unselfconsciousness, right?

Others, however, prefer a more modest masculine bathing ensemble:

After the picture was taken, these guys took turns dunking one another; there was much splashing and sputtering, although from the looks of it, none of them knew how to swim.

A more sedate group chose to watch from the beach:

Yes, they are wearing actual bikinis. Right there, on the public beach.  No one ogled them, no one scolded them, no stones were thrown.  Down at the water’s edge, meanwhile, these women were also enjoying the day:

So were they:

I don’t want to get all sentimental and over-dramatic–it was just an afternoon at the beach, after all–but spending time with all these different people, all sharing the same narrow patch of sand, I found myself feeling weirdly optimistic about the fate of the world.  I mean, what would happen if we all decided to just…get along?