Yes, this is the fabled annual Swimsuit Issue of Letters from the Village. In your dreams. For all you pervs out there who saw the title and expected that this chapter would be laden with photos of women (or men I guess) in skimpy swim costumes, well, get over it. About as close as this chapter will come to that is the photo at the right, which is my swim accessories, that play heavily in this chapter's story. For those of you that will find this to be mis-leading advertising, well...it is...but you are reading it, aren't you?
I know in the past I have written about my quest to become a bit more healthy. I have told you about my programma de ejercicio cuando con Amélie (my onboard exercise programme). Well, today my programme could have become a bit over-the-top, or, as my neighbour Sayana said, ‘crazy.’ She might be right.
I came back to Sol y Mar the other day. I have been doing this all summer. Several days on the boat, then a quick drive home to check the post, water the plants, and make sure that the house was still standing. Then I would often whip together a highly entertaining pasta dish and then rush back to Amélie. Yes, of course the pasta dish would have pesto. Is pasta ever served any other way than with pesto? Really? Are you sure?
This visit to Sol y Mar is a bit different. I came back with a plan to actually stay here for a few days. You know, sort of a ‘list-of-stuff-to-do-that-was-easier-to-do-from-the-house-than-from-the-boat’ plan. And because I assumed that this list would take me far more than a few hours, I thought it would be smart to just enjoy being home again (for a while). Now, because my exercise programme has been running a bit out of control (in a good way) whilst onboard Amélie, and with the realisation that I would be at home for a few days, I thought it would be best to bring some elements of my programme home with me. Now in all fairness, as my exercise doo-wah-programme consists of swimming and rowing; and as the dinghy I row is as big as my car, it was clear that this wouldn’t be the part coming home. Instead, I brought home my swim fins and turbo goggles. (just a note here: there is nothing turbo about my goggles at all, but ‘turbo goggles’ just sounded better than ‘goggles.)
Yesterday, when I awoke, I laid in bed listening carefully to see if I could hear the sea pounding against the rocks on shore. I heard nothing, so I sprinted out of bed and went to the terrace to check the sea conditions (okay, another clarification: there is no way I could ‘sprint’ out of bed, but I wanted to convey the image that I was eagerly moving from bed to terrace, as opposed to dragging my rather aged body around the house). Sadly, the wind was coming from the east, which meant pretty good-sized waves and rollers skipping across the bay in front of Sol y Mar. The good news was that now I had an excuse why not to go down to the sea and attempt to swim to the island. The whole ‘swim to the island’ thing had become one of those personal-best-mission-things that we, as humans, often do to wreak havoc on our bodies in the name of health. In my case, for someone who never was a good swimmer, the past summer has increased my competence and confidence about swimming and I had calculated swimming about the same distance in the harbour of Andratx several times. If I could do it there, I could do it here. So yesterday was out. And today it didn’t look all that much better.
But today I was convinced that I had to do something physically challenging, so after looking at the waves, I decided to do a long walk. When I am home, I do go on long walks, but today when I set out, I formulated a plan to walk from my house to Mood (a restaurant/night club/bar/God-knows-what). I have done this walk in the past and I knew that in August, which we have now found ourselves in, the only time that this walk is doable would be first thing in the morning. It was 0730, so I set off. After making it to the car park of Mood, I turned around and headed back, barely breaking a sweat. (right, another clarification point: it is a long walk, and I was pretty knackered, but I knew if I slowed down, it wouldn’t be good, so I just kept plugging on. The actual distance is only a few miles according to Google Earth, but using the ‘Dr.-Rieley’s-ready-to-patent-distance-energy-consumption-calculator,’ it is considerably further. Here is how this works…you take the actual distance in kilometres (I do live in Spain you know), which was 5.9, multiply that by your postal code, which in my case is 07181. This gives you a number of over 42367.9. Seeing as how I think any number greater than 8 is too far to walk, this walk was WAY too far.)
After returning home and peeling off my now-ready-to-be-put-in-the-washer-or-the-trash-bin shirt, I just happened to look out the window and buggers…the sea had calmed a bit. I was full of endorphins (or some other chemically-laced-health-hallucinogen) so I thought, ‘what the hell? I think I will go swimming now.’ In hindsight, the term ‘daft-bugger’ does spring to mind. I grabbed my flippers and my turbo-goggles (now it was the health-hallucinogens speaking) and went down to the beach below Sol y Mar. The first thing that came to mind upon arriving was that there was ‘evil deceptive waves’ and they were certainly bigger standing there on the rocks than they looked from my terrace. But by this point, I was already there and those pycho-babble-health-endorphin-guys were still whispering, ‘come on James, you can do it. It is only to the island. Come on. It will be fun.’ Right. I trudged out over the rocks and managed to put on the fins and goggles and plunged in.
As always, the fist two or three dozen strokes feel brilliant, and you can see the sea bottom whizzing past at a speed that Donald Campbell would have been proud to do. And then I looked up to see that the island was somehow further away from me than it had been when I started. Obviously, this was just an optical illusion because of the fact that instead of seeing the island from shore or from my terrace, I was now literally at sea level and through goggles that were already fogging up. Or it could have been due to the fact that those health-freak-endorphins had stayed on the beach and were splitting their sides with laughter as I slopped my way through the waves. I carried on, as you do.
I did make it to the island and back, even considering the fact I had to stop about eight times each way to de-fog my shit-goggles (notice how the need to repeatedly defog the goggles may have changed my mental model about how great they are?). One more thing: I do think that it is only fair to let you know that when using the previously mentioned distance formula as it applies to swimming AFTER walking anything more than about 8 steps, you need to also multiply the result by the national debt of Greece. Can I have a kip now?
JBR's swim accessories
a random picture I found about accupressure...interesting
the walking route from hell - all 800 ka-zillion kilometres of it
an idea of how far it is from my house to the island
how far it feels to the island when you actually start swimming
what I didn't see on my island swim
didn't see one of these either
an Olympic gold medal for swimming (that I won't win)
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 James B. Rieley