Since our leader has forbidden us to use our flashlights, I can’t see, except as vague shadows, the people ahead of me marching in single file, and can’t tell, in this group of strangers, if anyone else but me is veering crazily through the dunes like a drunk. I only know it’s hard work picking each leg up only to sink knee-deep in sand, and that several times, I have bumped into the person in front of me, and more times than I care to admit, have lost my balance and grabbed hold of that person’s arm or whatever, which is embarrassing since I have no idea, apart from his being male--his hairy arm was the giveaway--who this person is, and can only imagine that he thinks I’m a klutz. Perhaps the person behind me, who is not someone I’ve bumped into or grabbed hold of, is more inclined to be friendly for that reason, though he doesn’t speak more than a few words of my language, which forces me to listen extra hard when he tells me in the language of this country, which is neither my language nor his language, though his language is closer than mine to the one spoken here, that he is a graphic designer, and like me, on vacation in this country, which causes me, because I am listening so hard, to bump into and grab hold of the person in front of me even more than before. Nevertheless, I’m having a better time now that I’m talking to this man named Tisciano, who lives in Ravenna.
With all this talking, or trying to talk, and trying to understand, I hardly notice when we are past the dunes and walking on level sand until our leader tells us to stop. I haven’t mentioned that our leader, whose manner is too dictatorial for my taste, doesn’t speak my language either, which is why Tisciano repeats slowly for me what she says, otherwise I might not understand that we are going to wait here to see one of the giant turtles come ashore and lay her eggs. At this point, Tisciano and I lie down on the sand which is damp. I don’t know how many of the others are doing the same thing since I only see them as shadows though now that my eyes are accustomed to the darkness I see more than before, and notice for the first time since our group assembled in the pagoda on the beach, the luminous foam from the waves rolling in. Between looking at the sea and talking, or trying to talk to Tisciano, who says, for example, the word “hat” when his flies off and lands on my chest, I have almost forgotten about the turtles when our leader, turning on a red-ultraviolet light, whispers that it’s time. We follow her inland, our backs to the sea until she stops, and we fan out around her and the red beam of light which, looking eerie and pornographic in the darkness, reveals a sight more embarrassing to me than say, two guys in the group suddenly having sex with one of the girls. We see the creature from the rear, slowly and silently releasing each egg from the opening between her legs into the hole she has dug in the sand, a sight that is so intimate I am thinking to myself that I have never seen anything this intimate, though perhaps if I had had a child, which I never wanted to have in all the years when I could have had one, I might not find this sight which was at first so embarrassing, so amazing, but since I haven’t had a child and am astonished by the intimacy of the scene I am witnessing, I wish I knew the words in my language, or in the language of this country, or in any language, to convey how I feel to Tisciano or to any other human being.