It was mid-day and the morning blanket of grey-white clouds was gone, giving way to a clear blue sky and bright sun. With nothing to carry in my hands, flip-flops on, and wearing my bikini under my clothes, I headed out the door with a handful of cherry tomatoes as my refreshing snack. It was windy and I anticipated that the water would be too much on the cold side for me to take a swim, but that didn’t deter me from seeking out the Mediterranean Sea here on the beaches of Rota, Spain.
My friends that I am staying with this month, live only four blocks from the beach! The short walk took me past Spanish-style houses of two or three stories, some in soft beige of natural adobe and others in bright yellows or pristine whites. Their gates were overgrown beautifully with foliage of lush green leaves and pastel colored flowers. I recognized a bush full of gorgeous hibiscus flowers of white and pink. These were not neighborhoods like what I had grown up with in the United States…no large green lawns open to the street, each house was different in color and design. Even their gates were unique with some made of wrought iron and others of brick and cement. What they all had in common was the artistic detail…each home had tiles set into their walls. Some were small and many while others were large and few. But their small detail was exquisite and seemed to be so gently painted. One wall even had what looked like small covered vases resting on each pillar. Just the colors and use of them was beautiful.
I’ve come to really love the beauty of the beaches in Rota. As I get closer to the park where the walkway onto the beach starts, I enjoy a view of the approaching trees and sand dunes that rise up, like a last hurdle to surpass in order to reach the sea. The trees…they are so distinct here…a vibrant green, their tops remind me of the shape of mushrooms, like an umbrella, and the pale wood trunk is the spoke and handle. And then sometimes, they look more like perfectly round clouds, green leafy clouds!
Once on the walkway, it’s like a magical forest that doesn’t belong to this world…with a bit of sandy ground, sparsely covered with grass here and there under the wood walkways that zigzag in between the trees. The light here is always so great – with the sun shinning in between the trees you can see the rays so vividly. Beams…they’re sun beams, with how they break into the small forest of interesting trees and walkways, interrupting the shade created by the leafy canopy. And it’s amazing how there is such a canopy when the trees are spread out and not close to each other. It must be the mushroom top design that accomplishes this feat. I like the details of how the tree trunks lean to one side and I notice it is away from the sea. Every day these trees feel the wind blowing up from the sea across the beach and…they seem to bend with it as it blows past them, inland.
Like coming out of a tunnel, the trees grow sparse and this forest opens up to the bright blue sky. Simultaneously, the sea begins to appear on the horizon, expanding as I draw nearer and nearer. Watery waves, cresting and white-capped, start to appear more distinctly and it grows…my site of the sea grows larger; it seems it is spreading closer to me. Maybe ebbing forward or perhaps receding back. At this point, I am at a small simple gazebo of sorts, at the end of the walkway before it descends further down to the beach below. Instead of the mystical trees, bushes and clusters of tall grasses appear along what is now the pinnacle of the sand dunes, spread out to my right and left like endless humps on a camel’s back. This seems to be the natural boundary between the town, the inland, and the sea and it’s beach.
Don’t you love how the feel of the sand changes as you make your way down to where the water meets the land? It starts out so loose and soft, warm and…almost fluffy. The countless little grains of sand fall away from your footsteps and shower into the air, blown back by the wind and the movement of picking up your feet and taking another step. Here in these beaches, there is seaweed and it accumulates even further back from the water, baking in the sun to a dry layer that one has to walk through. I step through a small portion and am not bothered. It isn’t the loveliest part of the beach, but naturally belonging to it nonetheless. Then the sand gets damp and firmer, quickly morphing into that wet, creamy consistency thanks to the crashing up and receding back of the waves. When the waves are pulling back away, it feels squishy between my toes and congeals around my feet. My favorite is the very end fringe of the wave, once it is receding back into the forming of the next wave…all that is left for me on shore is the foaming white water-line with bubbles dancing in a curve that looks to me like the bottom of a stage curtain. I run for these lines of bubbles and like to meet them with just my toes. If I step deeper into the water’s edge, it seems to feel like what I imagine quicksand to feel like…but, I’ve never felt quicksand before. Now that I think about it, this is the closest to feeling quicksand that I would ever want to come. With the water infiltrating the sand even deeper, I feel it’s consistency change so rapidly. My feet sink, causing me to lean back the slightest bit as my heels sink in quicker. If I really try to stand still, the now runny sand swarms up around my ankles and buries my feet completely. Once the water recedes another time, my feet are firmly grasped.
The water feels good and is not quite as cold as it was in recent days past. But the wind is cool. Damp with the sea spray carried on the wind along with the cool temperature from the water now born to flight in the air. Looking to either side, I decide to walk with the wind first and in a relaxed energy, head east. The path of preference for me is right within the shallow inches of water where the waves ride up and come to land on the shore. Walking along these fingers of the sea that stretch out onto the sand and then pull back away from it, taking with it grains upon grains of sand…it’s the loveliest combination the elements and like a little world of its own.
Looking out to sea, my eyes take in the details of the choppy waves. Sometimes, the waves seem to be sprouting even more waves as they crest, creating sporadic layers of dark cobalt blue with turquoise flecks. Other times my eyes zoom out to take in the entire canvas of the lively painting I’m in…it’s so open. The details of the water and sand, the shore and the sea, combine to create such an expanse of open air to the vast sky. Sunshine showers down onto everything and the wind is constant, caressing my skin and tossing my hair. Seagulls swoop overhead on the currents of the wind, riding effortlessly on the forceful gusts. Some young men begin to kite-surf, cutting the water with their boards as they’re pulled by the air and sail.
You know that saying, may you go with the sun on your face and the wind at your back…well, that’s nice and all. It makes sense. Yet, I think I like the wind on my face along with the sun. At some point, I decided it was time to turn around and head back. So with an about-face, I headed west and enjoyed the sun and wind on my face, the wind blowing my hair back away from my eyes. Hhhhmmm…the warmth, touched by the coolness of the damp wind, soft and soothing…
I love these walks on the beach here in Rota. They never cease to amaze me with the variety of colors in everything I see…the water, the sand and grasses, the sun and sky, even the seaweed washed up on shore. Some people say that the beach is comforting and can be healing. I would agree and for me, find it be a peaceful and encouraging place.