The Russians have taken the beach. The Japanese, apparently, ceded control peacefully sometime in the night.
Gone are the formal Japanese wedding parties. Gone are the couples posing in front of the sea, with coconut trees providing a handy frame on each side. Gone are the giggling teenage girls, attired in anime-inspired fashions, who dip their toes in the water only to be chased back to higher ground by each lapping wave, invoking more giggles. Gone are the ambitious amateur photographers with cameras of every kind around their necks and over their shoulders: phone, video, SLRs with multiple lenses.
Gone are the couples in snorkel masks, trodding laboriously in the sand with their flippers, looking like zombies attempting to return to the lagoon. Gone are grown men with brightly colored kids’ inner tubes wrapped around their waists as though this were very natural beach apparel. And gone, thankfully, are the tour buses with their tour guides blasting amplified instructions to their flocks.
In their place we now have Eastern Europeans whose girths test the weight limit of the lounge chairs they have occupied. Their skin color suggests they have for months been seriously deprived of any solar-induced vitamin D. They blast strains of some generic Euro-synth-pop music from their devices.
A middle-age couple in front of us seems to typify the new inhabitants. Her hair is blonde, but the long roots reveal that shade is now a thing of the distant past. He has let the gray take over. But it is hardly noticeable since his ultra-bright, phosphorescent lime-green swim trunks draw all the attention to his torso.
After a few moments of lying in the sun, he stands up, sucks in his belly and puffs out his chest. He inserts his thumbs inside the waistband of his swimwear and, with a semi-circular motion of each hand, straightens his attire. He then takes a short jog to the water and dives in. He swims as if competing with Michael Phelps. But this race lasts only 10 or so meters.
He then pops up, turns about-face toward the beach and shakes his head to clear his vision. He glances toward his partner to see if she has noticed his acquatic accomplishment, clearly proof enough he has not lost his youthful vitality. His audience of one, unfortunately, has not bothered to look up from her phone.
It’s a scene repeated by other couples throughout the day.
How long will the Russian invasion last? Hard to know. A new crop of invaders from another distant land are, no doubt, imminent.
The sands on this beach are relentlessly shifting.