I took my shoes off on the wooden walkway, as well as my socks, which I put inside the shoes. I stared at the ocean for a while before I realized I was alone and it was no surprise: a very cold breeze was blowing that day and there was no way someone would choose that time of day to go around and have a stroll by the ocean. Well, except me of course. I stepped on the sand and was surprised to feel it very cold and humid, contrary to all my other experiences at beaches. That sounds odd but the point is I had never been in a “cold beach”.
I walked slowly towards the ocean. Mid way between the end of the walkway and the water, there was a big rock the appeared to emerge from the deepest parts of the Earth. I left my shoes on it and took a couple of seconds to raise my jeans as high as I could in order not to get them wet. Minutes later, I was in the water, enjoying the wind and the sound of the ocean crashing and forming foam all around me. Somehow, I felt free and better than ever.
I stopped being alone after a while, when several seagulls landed near the rock and started poking the ground for food. I was surprised to see that one of them was able to pull a crab as big as my fist from the ground and then another one did the same. And then maybe the biggest bird of them all decided that my shoes were food or maybe my socks.
I saw the bird exploring it all with its beak and I had to run like crazy back to the rock to scare the bird away. I always couldn’t do it because the seagull was not impressed by me running towards it. I had to scream and open my arms, as wings in order for it to release it just couldn’t win. It finally took off and I was able to grab my shoes but, as I pulled out both socks to see it the bird had damaged them, I felt a severe pain.
Birds are not as stupid as we think. As it happened, there was a small crab inside my shoe. It must have gotten inside of it when I decided to go and soak my feet into the water. It had closed its larger pincer on one of my fingers and I had to shake my hand real hard until it released me. It fell to the ground and I hoped the big seagull would eat it. My finger had a deep cut and that ended my time on the beach.
With my other hand, I put the socks on my pocket and when I reached the walkway I put on the shoes with no socks on. It wasn’t the best way to go but I just wanted to go back to where I was staying and cure my finger. It wasn’t a long walk, as the small bed & breakfast was on what they called the waterfront, even if the beach could not be seen from the rooms. I felt the blood dripping but didn’t mind at all.
I asked for my key in the reception and once I had gotten into my room, I checked the front pocket of the bag I had brought and pulled out a Band-Aid. Then, I went out to the bathroom and cleaned my finger under the sink. It hurt but the blood worried me a bit more because it looked darker than usual. I tried to think about what I had eaten recently but couldn’t really remember eating something strange that would cause such a strange reaction.
When I was finished, I put on the Band-Aid and went back to my room. I decided to stay there for the rest of the day and just be safe away from any crazy injuries. And then I removed my shoes and realized one of my feet hurt. I had a blister on my heel, probably because I had worn my shoes with no socks. My feet were really sensitive so I decided no to touch it too much and just rest my feet, my hands and everything in that room.
Minutes afterwards, rain started pounding against the window’s glass. I had started reading a book I had brought but I had deceived myself again, because I couldn’t go beyond page five. I just read the same words, again and again, and decided to leave the book and just try to have a nap. After all, there was still light outside. So I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but just couldn’t. My finger felt as if it was pumping an amazing amount of blood and my foot hurt a bit if I moved. I felt so stupid and silly, being there just doing nothing.
But I knew I wasn’t the kind of person to have adventures every four seconds like other people. I had discovered, through friends, that people normally lied about that so I felt less self-conscious, but I knew that somewhere, some person was actually having a lot of fun and just enjoying life. I was the kind of person that couldn’t walk without getting blisters or attacked by birds. Other people had no idea what that was like.
It was after thinking all of these things that I felt asleep and did so for about two hours. I had no dreams but rather a really calm sleep. So calm in fact, that I woke up exactly in the same position I had fallen asleep in. That never happened at home anywhere.
I decided to put some thick socks, the shoes and try to see more of the small town before I had to leave in two days. I had found about it when booking my holidays and decided that, after getting to know a large city, I also wanted to get lost in some small town when I just could feel that I was discovering a brand new world every single day. I had lived that many years ago and just wanted to have that feeling back with me. Besides, I was tired of cities and their people. I needed a change.
I stepped out of the hotel, having left my key again with the receptionist who would always be on the phone or playing with her cellphone. I didn’t have my cellphone with my, on purpose. The first reason was that it didn’t work on the country and the second reason was that I did not want any distractions from my normal walk. I just wanted to open my eyes and look at people and their normal environment and whatever that part of the world had to offer.
The town’s main square was located just ten minutes away by walking and I could tell it was a lively day for the town. There were more people that I could have imagined and many nice shops and tents all over were vendors would sell local products, mainly made from oatmeal and wild flowers and lemons. They even sold fish in some of them and the smell made me feel better, even if I didn’t really like fish.
I went all around the market and then realized that people, some people at least, were looking at me. They seem to point and then hush and then be on their way and that for me was very strange. Back in the city I had visited earlier that week, not one person had ever acknowledged my presence except the ticket vendors in museums and waiters. I even had to yell a lot in a restaurant to get some service. But something was weird in that small town.
Or maybe, I thought, I was imagining it all. Maybe I just wanted to be seen or something and was putting all of that inside my head and trying for it to be part of the world. So I ignored it all and kept on moving. Sure enough, being almost 8PM, I decided to have something small to eat and some hot beverage with eat in a nice pastry shop with terrace, on the main square. As I sat down, a very nice waiter came and took my order and complimented me on my hair.
I almost laugh but didn’t because he seemed honest. He came back very fast with a cup of hot tea with sugar and lemon and some complimentary cookies. I also asked for a ham and cheese sandwich and just ate and drink as I saw the people move all around. Again, I felt people looking at me and little kids would wave and make faces to me. And by the end of the evening, I got used to it.
When I went back to my hotel, I was able to sleep nicely and, after showering with hot water; I decided to make my last day in the village count. I would fish and eat something great, and walk to one of the lavender fields and maybe even get into one of those farm tours and milk a cow or something. I just felt people saw me and I wanted to be a part of anything that happened there. I guess I wanted to thank them, somehow.