I Had to Swim Naked in the Beach and All Because of Some Dumb Tower or A Cautionary Tale of High and Low Tides and Inlets
I can’t tell what is a better title.
So obviously this day was an adventure and a half. We really wanted to visit some famous sand dunes in Bolonia, a city 14 miles away (25 minutes by car). Sadly there are no buses that run to this city. Everyone makes excuses like “well it preserves the charm of the city!” No not if no one can go see it. So we missed the strange roman ruins, the sand dunes and the entire city of Bolonia because of the lack of public transportation.
It was clear we needed to make our own fun. So we thought, lets take a huge walk on the beach and see how far we get. We had already been consistently walking 10 miles a day on average. We usually do these misadventures where we “accidentally” walk somewhere (across the Black Forest; from Germany to France and back; around Cades Cove) because we’re too stubborn to take no for an answer (no car, no problem! I’ll just walk 30 miles around London, no big thang!).
There was a hike posted online that just went across the beach from Tarifa to Bolonia. So we packed some sandwiches and started off. We’ll see how far we get, I guess.
We ended up walking 4 miles down the beach. In the last blog I talked about how the ocean and river meet. You can see it in this picture in the upper left corner (marked with a gray point).
So we had to cross an ankle deep puddle when we walked there.
I want to pause and say that we are not a beach people. We know mountain things like to dress in layers, not go hiking in the afternoon in the summer and not to camp above tree level. We think about these things when we go on adventures but we don’t think about how the tide moves in 6 hour increments.
So we just crossed it and walked the 4 miles to our lunch spot.
We ate on an old bunker overlooking the now distant city of Tarifa.
We didn’t have the energy to walk 6 more miles to Bolonia and back. So we figured we would go see what Torre de Peña was. It was labeled on our maps. We have a La Peña mountain at home that we like so we figured we would go see what Cadiz’s Peña was about.
We had to walk along a highway which we didn’t like and then the Torre (tower) was half collapsed and the stairs dissolved. So we walked into an RV park to just look at the tower.
Adventure over we figured we would go home. So we started the 5 mile walk back.
That’s when we encountered this
The 3 inch bit we had walked across earlier was now super feet deep in the middle and at least 20 feet across. Whoops.
Here we’ve drawn a quite wonderful picture using Microsoft Paint to show what it looked like below.
The city is on the right, the ocean is on the left. The river gets flooded by the high tide and it floods back onto the beach. This line of flooding lasts for miles, and is both deeper and wider than it looks in our drawing.
So our options were to walk at least 2 miles back to cross behind the backwash. But even then we would have to walk into town somewhere to find a bridge going over the river. Or we could ford it, Oregon Trail style.
We rolled our pants up, walked as far in as we could, holding our backpacks over our head. There were drop-offs galore and we soon realized that the dark blue you can see in the picture is over 5 feet deep. A 5ish foot deep river essentially cutting the whole beach in half. Weak. Chris turned data on his phone, how long was high tide going to last? Should we just hang out? Turns out that high tide was still an hour away. So this wasn’t even as bad as it would get. When we had walked over it 3 hours ago it was jut going up. Now it was almost done going up.
It’s 50 degrees, there’s 10 mph winds. We still have 3 miles to go home. If we got wet (in our clothes) it would be a miserable cold adventure back. None of it would dry, either. It’s so humid that towels took 3 days to dry. Plus our backpacks were full of electronics (phones, cameras, etc).
So we got naked. Mostly. We both kept boxers/panties on but I was completely topless (bra would never dry). Plus it’s Europe. There were naked topless sunbathing postcards and posters everywhere showing how cool Tarifa is. I’m just joining in the party. The winter party that only we were throwing.
The plan was for me to swim both our backpacks across then Chris could swim in his skivvies across to meet me. I had to swim 15 feet with one hand, the other hand holding my backpack full of my clothes and electronics over my head. The tide was merciless and almost threatened to wash me deeper and into worse waters on the beach/town side. Those years of swim team in the past were all to prepare me to swim topless/mostly naked in the beach now. I swam one handed for my life in the fridged water. So cold it takes your breath away.
I deposited my backpack and dove back into the water. Yes it was deep enough to dive in. Chris didn’t like being left behind so he was fording it Navy Seals style slowly walking across it. The water went right up to his shoulders, so he just held the backpack over his head and prayed to Pantry Jesus there wouldn’t be deeper drop offs.
We made it, naked and freezing to the other side of the ocean/river and just cracked up in hysterical laughter. Whatever to misadventures, whatever to nakedness, whatever to modesty and whatever to walking an extra 5 miles to go around this problem. We tackled this stupid problem in 30 minutes rather than 2 hours.
We used an undershirt to dry off and get dressed. We ended up taking it all off – no one wants dry pants over wet underwear in these terrible winds and cold. So there were bare butts for a minute or two. A man walking his dog down the beach got near us. I’m pretty sure he saw me putting my pants back on and he turned heel pretty quickly. Whatever we were doing he didn’t want part of it. Which we’re grateful for. Goodness knows how awkward it could’ve been if he wanted in on it.
We wanted a stiff drink after that but it was siesta so we had to wait for everything to re-open. Restaurants don’t open for dinner until 8 pm or later. So we had to wait, starving, for a Mexican food place to open.
It was worth the wait. We got tacos and nachos to share. Plus the best margarita I’ve ever had (guava flavored). After we paid the bill the nice waiter/owner came up and asked if we wanted a “digestif” to settle the stomach after eating. Having already paid we thought, hell yes. Free tapas (food) come with a drink in the afternoon. Apparently it’s reversed at dinner with free drink with our food. For a digestive we figured we would get a sherry or brandy that we’ve been seeing all over the grocery stores.
No, we got tequila shots complete with lime and salt.
Free tequila shots after swimming naked in the beach.