November 21, 2011: Glimmering waves

Despite being half-charged, my alarm decided to die sometime in the middle of the night, so instead of waking to rockin’ electronic rhythms, I woke to V. knocking at my door. She’d noticed I hadn’t woken up at the usual time and wanted to check in, the wondrous woman. I sprinted around getting ready and arrived to class late, but not horribly so. At any rate, we’re still doing the subjunctive, so it’s not as though I missed anything that we haven’t already been studying for a week.

We lunched at the same restaurant that we went to on my first day of classes. We all had a variant of the set menú, which included: an appetizer of geometric shapes (cheese, ham, palm hearts, and olives, all carved up), an entrée of carne italiano with mashed potatoes (which was delicious, but huge portions — I had to force myself to stop eating when I was full, instead of clearing the plate), and some sort of custard.

This was one of the hottest days I’ve experienced so far in Chile. As such, my schoolmate E. suggested a trip to the beach later that day. I ran for groceries and stopped at home to deal with a few work emails. Then, I grabbed a micro to meet up with them at Portales Beach (halfway between Valpo and Viña del Mar).

The buildings match the pier.

I had brought a swimsuit, but — based on my previous chilly windy beach day — I wasn’t sure if I would swim. However, as soon as I finished crossing the burning sand to my compatriots, I was convinced. I quick-changed into my swimsuit, and, accompanied by classmate C., waded tentatively into the blue-green water. Then, I leapt all the way in, diving under and pushing against the current.

Near the shore, the current was very strong — so much so that you could sit in it and glide up onto the shore, or be pulled inexorably back towards the open water. The beach’s sand was glittery with mica (or something like it), so every wave was full of a thousand tiny golden sparkles.

Small, powerful waves.

We swam perhaps 100 feet out, where the water was more placid, and then lingered. I had a grand time floating dead-still on my back, then rolling over and paddling around, or kicking my legs up above the surface. Eventually, we headed back to the shore and vaulted out of the shore-current. I slathered myself with gallons of sunscreen, and then lay out on my towel, chatting with my friends and sunning skittishly (hoping I had sunscreened enough). Between the warmth and repose, it was a very calming afternoon; tiring in a pleasant, salt-air way.

Someone was collecting seashells, but left them behind.

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