I Touched The Ocean. It Was Not Amused.

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When you are a child, your days are full of firsts. First ice cream, first snow, first fight in the sand box. But as you grow older, there are not so many firsts left. Unless you are into sky diving or willing to travel to China for fried snake with a strawberry jam.

Until two years ago, I had never seen an ocean in my life. We live in Central Europe, and the closest we get here is rivers, lakes and a sea (if you travel far enough).

Two years ago we flew out on vacation to Portugal (remind me to tell you the hilarious story of us almost missing the plane). We traveled through various places and finally reached Sintra, a small city away from tourist rush.

This should have been the place where ocean and I were finally going to meet.

We went to look at it from a cliff the day before, but postponed the main encounter till the last day. It was supposed to be like in a movie: endless beach with the softest sand, ocean waves roaring from afar, but falling to our feet as they reach the shore, and us, walking barefoot towards the sunset, holding hands.

Well… Sometimes I suspect that whatever they show us on TV is not how it usually happens in the real life.

It started as a beautiful sunny day.

Have you noticed how many disaster stories start on a beautiful sunny day?

We went for a delicious pizza (yes, there is such thing) in a local restaurant and were overexcited to finally take an hour bus drive that should bring us to the beach of our dreams and the ocean.

Have you noticed how sometimes “overexcited” is not really a good thing?

We have been travelling for an hour already, when we saw IT! All roary and sandy, like imagined.

So we got off, no, jumped off the bus right at the next stop only to realize it was one stop too early. The beach looked deserted, also smaller than it was supposed to be, but the strangest thing was the WALL.

Just for you to imagine: if you turn your right side to the ocean it would go like “ocean – 800 feet sand – WALL”. High, long, thick wall.

Have you noticed how later, in retrospective, you think about certain things and go like, “It was so obvious! Why didn’t I think about it then?”

But at the moment we didn’t care. A wall. So? Peculiarities of Portuguese beach architecture. Now let’s go finally touch the ocean.

Have I told you that I’m afraid of water? Everything that isn’t bottled is already too much, even swimming pools. My special respect goes to things with waves. They seem like alive beings to me, and somehow I have a feeling they don’t like me very much. I don’t know when it started. As a kid I used to swim and dive like a fish. Speaking of which, fish is not making it any better. I don’t trust fish. Who knows what they are plotting down there, in the deep darkness, while nobody’s watching. Unless I can keep an eye on their slippery business, my imagination will drive me nuts. Although if I could see them all I would freak out even earlier.

Yes, I know, it’s a perfect combination: open water anxieties and a great wish to bond with the ocean. But hey, we are human beings – complicated creatures, basically kings of evolution. We don’t need to make sense. Besides, I wasn’t going to swim, but to walk towards sunset holding hands, while the ocean would gently touch my feet.

So, as you remember, there we were, at the beach. Ocean – sand – wall.

My husband started taking off his shoes and rolling up his jeans, while I staid closer to the wall, making some pictures. The ocean seemed to be a mile away, so my husband started walking towards the waves, completely nonchalant. He has little respect for oceans. He eats that fish for dinner.

I switched my camera to the video mode to picture the moment in its full length. There he was, walking. Further, and further, and further, to the point that I was already worried, as I could barely recognize him through the lens. The waves were still quite far, but he finally stopped and decided to wait till a wave or two would come “falling to his feet”.

He didn’t have to wait long.

The next thing I saw through my camera was the water level rising quickly. Suddenly, I realized there wouldn’t be any gentle feet touching action. We were up to run-as-fast-as-you-can kind of exercise. I turned around and started sprinting away from the wave.

Five steps later I’d already reached. The Wall!

Ah, this is what it was for! To shield the coast from the waves (and people trying to escape from them)! How thoughtful.

Luckily, the water only went up to my waistline, so the damages included “only” wet shoes, wet pants and sand in all pockets. My husband wasn’t so lucky.

I turned back and saw him trying to reach for his floating shoes and the jacket. I can still see this picture in my head: Him trying to walk, up to his belt in the water, and the shoes swimming away – one escaping on the left side, another on the right. I bet the shoes were together with the ocean on this, as their escape manoeuvre seemed too sophisticated to be spontaneous. The jacket, however, swam right into my hands.


It all happened within seconds. The wave was gone, and the ocean was again far away, pretending it had no idea what all the fuss was about. It was not pretending good enough though, as we could clearly see the shoes still floating out there. It felt like a tease, seeing them riding the waves, coming closer just to be pulled back the next moment. “Which shoes? Theeeseee shoooeees? My shoes!” Bad, bad ocean!

The first thing we did when it was over, we laughed. We had an attack of a hysterical laugh and just couldn’t stop for quite some time.

It was unbelievable. We spent days anticipating this moment, and it was over within minutes. We were wet, basically robbed, and now had to return to the hotel as soon as possible, some of us barefoot, all of us dripping water and sand.

The bus came in half an hour. We had to explain the driver what happened for him to let us in looking like this. He got a hysterical laugh attack, too.

We reached the hotel two hours later. On our way, we made the day of two more people: a kind pharmacist who let us stay in her drug store while we waited for a taxi, and a guy from our hotel who had to come pick us up when the taxi didn’t come. They all had a hysterical laugh attack when they heard the story. Otherwise, very nice people.

As soon as we got back to the room, we jumped under the hot shower and stayed there for what felt like forever. Maybe that’s why we didn’t get sick, that already seems like a wonder after all the wet barefoot walking in the cold.

The jacket was dried on a heater, the shoes were paid the deserved respect by remembering how awesome they were through the coming several days. The surviving sock was promoted to the Sock General and granted a (hypothetical) medal for outstanding courage. Unfortunately, his further destiny is unknown, as he went undercover on his next laundry mission and got mixed up with the crowd of other, less remarkable socks.

Well, what do we learn from this story?

First and most important: DO NOT MESS WITH THE OCEAN! I would also include all waters that are not bottled, but that’s just me, I also have trust issues with fish.

Second, always have a second pair of shoes when you travel even for couple of days. Actually, have a second pair of everything. You never know.

And third and my favorite: Every story is whatever you make of it. For us, it became a story of hysterical laughing and me rubbing frozen feet of my husband and warming him up with my jacket while waiting for a bus on a cold November evening somewhere in Portugal.

P.S. If it was not for Sara from the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, I would have probably never written this story down, as it is so long and I am so lazy. This is what happens when one makes hasty promises. And as today is my lucky day, this story also fits the Daily Prompt of the Daily Post “First!”

Gill Andrews is a content creator and a web consultant from Germany. When she is not writing or analyzing websites, she is probably running after her toddler son or eating chocolate cake (because writing and running after toddlers requires a lot of energy). Read more about Gill on www.Gillandrews.com

17 comments on “I Touched The Ocean. It Was Not Amused.Add yours →

  1. I always have a second pair of shoes when I travel. I can not even imagine leaving home without a second pair of shoes. I would panic for sure. That much I hate wet shoes. I must have an option of switching immediatelly. And I travel a lot to the countries where it rains a lot. Nice story!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I always have at least a second pair of everything. You never know 🙂 Especially socks. I seem to never have enough of them.

      By the way, when are you writing your next post? Or is there nothing going on in Germany these days?

      1. Yes please 🙂 I’ve been too long here already to notice anything. It all became normal. Even the taxi drivers who always ask me to SHOW them the way to my home… Well, at least they are not asking me to drive 🙂

  2. I am also catching me that I got used to so many things, that I only say to myself, look it was different when back in my home country, and now we already got used to this way and it does not look strange anymore. Then I think I should document it faster to my blog while I still remember it used to be strange in the beginning! BTW your soft kick has just worked, thanks!!!

    In which country are you living btw?

      1. Well, for me nothing is going, ’cause I’m way to desensitised to all of this already. So I thought maybe you discovered something recently…. 🙂

  3. Gill, well I applaud you on another great post! I could just picture it in my head. Maybe I should teach you how to swim in the Ocean. I know how to body surf in the waves, but as a woman, you have to make sure you wear the right swim suit or you might just lose it in the waves!!! However, you are right; you must have respect for the Ocean. In my home state, they have rip tides which can pull you under before you even realize it. It is a current that drags you under the water if you are not careful. I believe that you should give the Ocean another try and another chance…. 🙂

    1. Thank you, thank you 🙂 But there is no way I’m swimming anywhere near open waters! And of course the Ocean will get another chance! We didn’t even get properly introduced. I’m very determined to make our next encounter last longer than 3 minutes 🙂

  4. What a fantastic word picture! As someone who grew up and still lives on an island with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the North Sea on the other, I appreciate the concept of “ocean”. I am aware of isolation, since visiting the rest of the world involves flying or crossing the ocean. I am aware of power; we build walls to protect, but in a lifetime I have watched coastline erode, and beaches move, and in a gale I have stood a mile from the sea and tasted the salt spray on my lips. It is an awesome display of power, probably comparable to something I have never seen, a volcano erupting! I grew up to stories of women waiting for the return of husbands and sons lost in violent storms while fishing in small boats far from land at the end of the 19th century. Yes, the ocean is an awesome natural phenomenon, beautiful and benign when calm, fearsome and deadly when aroused: is that why the terms we use to describe it are feminine (sorry…couldn`t resist 🙂 )

    1. Thank you so much, Bob, for the nice words and for taking the time to read this not at all short story 🙂

      Haha. I can imagine where the feminine terms to describe the ocean come from, given the “moodiness” 😀 For me, thought, it is still “male” due to its enormous physical strength and power. No woman can be _that_ strong 😀

      I have a huge respect for open waters, be it a sea or an ocean. But living on the coast is still a dream of mine. Nothing compares to the feeling you get by watching the waves, the endlessness, the horizon. Well, maybe one day 🙂

  5. Fantastic, Gill! Honestly, from the photos you’ve got with your wonderful piece, there’s no way in a million years I would’ve got close to those waves! They look dangerous! You must try the sea again sometime, but mYbe the Atlantic is not the place to start. A “beginner” sea like the Med or the Red sea might be a more amicable choice. They do the whole “waves lapping gently at your toes” thing. The Atlantic is famous for being one of the grumpiest oceans going, and definitely slots into the “expert with experience” category.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read, Lisa 🙂

      I’m actually not a sea newbie. As a child, I used to spend couple of weeks at the sea shore with my parents, as well as quite some time bathing in the rivers and lakes. But at some my attitude to the non-bottled waters drastically changed, and I stopped having fun swimming.

      I know the waves of the Back Sea and its Mediterranean brother, but The Ocean was a different league 😀

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