Monday, August 31
Swimming in a storm
For weeks and weeks the sun has shone down, baking the beach and the mountainside so that in the evenings it almost seems even hotter as the warmth radiates back out of the baked rock. The humidity has been endlessly high, four or five showers a day and sporadic dips in the soupy sea have not helped for long. So yesterday evening when the early evening skies suddenly grew dark and the sound of thunder rolled across the mountains there was an air of excitement all around town.
Whispered rumours circled the beach like wildfire. "They say its raining in Salerno!" Boat boys danced with pleasure, calling the much wanted rain, beckoning and taunting for it to come closer and refresh this hot and dusty town. Canoes and boats that had been left sprawled on the beach were moved away to the sides. They had been left in the path of the river which comes down the service road to the beach, but in summer months completely dries up, and can quickly become a raging torrent in a rainstorm as it surges down the mountain, across the beach and out to sea.
There was a sudden flash of lightening quickly followed by a huge crack of thunder and you could almost feel everyone in town holding their breath, just praying for the rain to come. A little boy cried and held his arms up to his babysitter to be picked up and sheltered from the noise. She laughed and scooped him into her arms and then glanced up in surprise as a huge raindrop landed on her face.
Enormous fat drops of water suddenly turned the dry pier into a polka dot tapestry, which quickly disappeared as the deluge started. From across the whole beach area a huge cheer arose as everybody ran for cover, laughing and exclaiming over the size of the droplets. In a flash the pier was empty. The boat boys were sheltering under the kiosk bar, and all the other pier workers had retreated to their cabins and ticket offices, the tourists had fled into shops and bars.
Suddenly, some of the boat boys broke away from the bar and ran at full speed across the pier, launching themselves into the sea. They whooped with joy, splashed around in delight and then started beckoning for us to join them. I didn't think twice, stripped down to my bikini and ran. Out of the cabin, across the wet cobbles of the pier, being stung by hard ferocious raindrops, I ran as fast as I could until I reached the end of the pier and I jumped as high and as far as I could...
I hit the water like a bomb and plunged under, vaguely hearing the boys cheering me on. It was warm and velvety but as I broke the surface the hard raindrops stang as they hit me. Around me the rain was battering the sea into flatness and I could hardly see from all the splashes. I swam to the shore where my collegue was inexplicably waiting for me. She was already wet, so I simply took her hand and dragged her fully clothed into the sea with me. Two more people appeared out of nowhere and threw themselves in too. We splashed around like children for a while and laughed until we ached when the boys ducked behind a wall, stripped naked and streaked into the sea, waving their shorts like flags.Eventually the river made its way to the sea, sweeping months worth of mud and dust into the ocean, forcing us back onto land.
We collapsed, giggling, onto the beach and let the rain wash away the saltwater from our skin. We watched in amusement as two more boat boys launched canoes into the river, paddling up the service road and turning round to be carried back to the beach by the churning water. We padded barefoot back to the cabin and dried off as the skies cleared and turned a dusty pink and the moon softly glowed from behind a hazy cloud.
at 2:39 PM