There are so many things that can go wrong when one decides to swim in open waters.
In salt water there are predators that can mistake you for prey, animals that can kill you just by coming in contact with you by accident such as jellyfish and the water itself can drag you further out than you can swim back. Of course none of those crossed my mind until I was splashing into the water, elated to paddle into a new area of the world. I was worried more about the predators on land.
Carrying around as much tech as I have been to make sure I can create a photo reference library, I have to worry about thieves and opportunists that would take it from me. It would be simple enough to wait until I was far out into the water, take the bag and run. I couldn’t afford that loss. So I carefully waited for the cleaning staff at my hotel to clean my room and left my tech there for my adventure into the Mediterranean Sea.
For those who think I’m paranoid, I will refer you to one of my favorite sayings: I’m not paranoid, I’m well informed. For this obvious reason, there are no pictures of this part of my journey. My memory will serve me well for it though.
My last concern was my passport and my wallet, which could not be left at the hotel. But how to protect it while I am in the water?
To the Italians, leftovers is almost an alien concept. There are food markets within a mile if not less of any house within a city, so you can easily walk down, purchase the food you need and go cook it every day. For this reason, there is no such thing as a resealable plastic bag such as ZipLocks. Every Italian I asked looked at me blankly and shrugged their shoulders with a “Why would you need that?” attitude.
I say almost alien because I was able to find a grocery store with rolls of plastic sticking wrap that I could use to protect my wallet and passport from the sea as I swam. I could not leave them on the beach for the same reason as leaving the tech there. I wrapped them with three layers around each and then three layers around them together and headed out to the beaches at Monterosso.
Once again, I am not paranoid, I’m well informed and if you’re not you should be.
At the beach there was a nice couple from New Zealand that were willing to watch my clothes as I charged into the waters. It tasted just like the Gulf of Mexico, except cooler. The salt water makes it easier to swim as you are more buoyant. If you really want to see the difference, swim in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The concentration of salt in it is higher than in any ocean in the world, the water being so dense most people can easily float on the surface.
I swam back and forth across the beach, then out into the waters. It wasn’t until I was a hundred yards into the sea that the dangers of it crossed my mind, keeping me from venturing further. That was enough dangerous adventure to satisfy my hunger for it.
Every Italian I have told of my adventure thinks I am crazy. Not for how far I went out into the water, but that I went swimming at all. They find the water far too cold this time of year to swim. “I’m a North Man” I tell them and they understand that my sense of cold is greatly lower than theirs. 61 degree water is NOT cold. 34 degree water is COLD. Come to Minnesota during the winter, cut a hole in the ice of a lake and jump in. You’ll never think that 61 degrees is cold ever again.