Columns, Opinion

HAUSER: A quick dip in the Mediterranean

Millions of rocks cover the beach of Nice, replacing the stereotypical sand one finds elsewhere in the world. Black, gray and even red rocks, as smooth as a granite countertop and usually flat enough to skip across the water sparkling as the clear blue and green Mediterranean water laps against them in endless cycles of soft waves. With my shoes on, I didn’t notice these rocks, only slightly sinking into them as my friends and I descended down the stairs from the road to approach the water, but once I took off my shoes, the cold wetness caused my bare feet to quiver. Super hard and uneven, my further descent toward the water got more and more uncomfortable, borderline painful.

I pulled off my jeans to reveal the blue European-cut H&M bathing suit I was wearing underneath, and then pulled off my shirt. Of the few people dotting the beach here and there on this cold and cloudy spring day, I was the only one shirtless and the only one prepared to take the plunge. I slowly worked my way to the water and inched my way in, bracing against the colder water. Even only an inch deep in, I felt goosebumps on my skin.

After a couple of seconds, I prepared to go further in. I starting adjusting and realized that the cold water was no different than the time I jumped in the Massachusetts Bay in November. I waded in more and got down to my knee level and decided it was time to dunk myself and fully swim in the Mediterranean Sea. I dropped myself down and immersed my entire body into the water and popped out a second later with water streaming down my face. After shouting quick swears in reference to the temperature of the water, I quickly worked my way out of the water as my friends watched on in bewildered amusement.

I had finally done it. I had finally swam in the Mediterranean Sea. I had dreamed of doing it since going to Marseille in October, where I stared out at the horizon across the crystal blue water. I almost achieved this feat when I went to Tunis, Tunisia in November, however I was only able to baptize up to my ankles in the water and I looked across longingly from North Africa. I knew that this spring, if I went to the south of France again, I would have to actually swim and check it off my bucket list.

It is almost more special that I swam in the Mediterranean on a cloudy day turned rainy by the end. I was able to enjoy the moment with my two friends without the distractions of the usual summer crowds that pile onto the beaches in the south of France. Being able to look out and see endless blue water and being able to look down the curved beach and not see more than a handful of people gave a lot of beauty to the day. Just my two friends and I enjoying the rocky beach with a few curious onlookers wondering why a young man is splashing around in the water.

Even now as I ride my train back to Paris from Nice, I am still reveling in the wonderful adventure I had simply jumping into the water and taking in all the ocean had to offer. I see yellow-sanded beaches even more crowded than the one in Nice and I remain happy that even though I walked on rocks, I wasn’t interrupted by other beach-goers.

Essentially, this short weekend trip to the south of France was well worth the time and money.

Round-trip train: around 150€.

Lunch: 15€.

Wonderful memory of Nice: Priceless.

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