A few days later, in Crete, we went to the breathtaking Pink Beach alias Elafonisi. The sand is baby pink in many places because of the naturally powdered down shells in them. The water starts off almost transparent at the shore, darkening to azure in the distance. The water was so clean I could easily see a dozen meters underwater. The beach is a short isthmus connecting to a rocky island, so there is water on both sides. But the lower parts of it are submerged at high tide. There’s plenty of coral in the water. Fish nip at the dead skin on your feet if you wade in deep enough.
I had cut short my previous long swim at Red Beach because I had swum out of sight and thought Jessica would be worried. This time I wanted enough time to explore properly, so once we had found a good place for her to settle into a book, I told her I’ll be back in 3 hours. For the first time, I carried my underwater camera with me. It had the time too, so I would know when my time was up.
I meandered amongst the rocks and coral formations, followed fish and crevices, and swam where I felt like. I had three hours after all. I made sure I was heading in the rough direction of the rock island that marked the end of the isthmus (from where I was to turn back), but otherwise I was lost in the submarine. The persistent cries of seagulls turned my attention to the landwards. As I was trying to photograph them I realized that I had already spent 2 hours in the water. It had felt like 30 minutes! I was in serious danger of returning very late and causing a lot of anxiety. I made a beeline for it, conscious not to over-tire myself. This was the first time I had to swim a distance with a time constraint. I made it back just a few minutes late.
As I waded out of the water I grew conscious of a slightly unpleasant sensation. The feeling was so subtle it took me a few minutes to even register it. It wasn’t weariness - the faster swim hadn’t tired me out (I was thrilled to note). It wasn’t the effort of wading in the water, although that felt a lot closer to the truth. It was the sensation of my lower body bearing the weight of my upper body, something it hadn’t done in 3 hours.
I had gone from being comfortable in the water to being uncomfortable on land!