In my teen years I was lucky enough to go on a number of vacations that revolved around the beach and water activities. I snorkeled through coral reefs, went cliff jumping in Mexico, and bronzed my pasty Minnesotan skin on gorgeous ocean beaches.
Little did I ever imagine that moving to the Pacitic coast in Chile to live on the ocean for the first time in my life would mean the end to water-related activities for me! It only took one quick dip of my toes* to realize that the water here is FREEEEEEZING, and I was completely turned off. Living on the ocean meant little more than a physical limit in which directions I could travel. Pools and other water activities are not widely available except for those willing to pay a steep price.
Long story short, nearly 4 years later my boyfriend planned a secret you-don't-need-to-spend money-to-call-it-a-date activity, that he dropped hints about for days until last weekend I ended up walking up the coast just south of Valparaiso, confused and terrified about the fact that I had been ordered to bring a swimsuit. (Seriously, summer is over). Then at one point we climbed over the guard railing and walked the plank across an old disintegrated pier beam, and set our stuff down on the concrete block at the end.
Getting this far did nothing to calm the feeling of dread when he said "Now lets jump in!"
I was already cold in my dry pants and sweatshirt. He seemed disappointed, and explained that he had picked this spot because the ocean was teal blue like in the pictures, and he wanted to swim out to a further cement support block protruding from the ocean and have me take a few pictures. I said go ahead, and let him do his thing (which consisted of jumping in, screaming bloody murder and getting back out, regaining confidence and then finally swimming out there). When he swam back and out of the water, I started to feel bad. Not only am I a huge wimp for avoiding the Chilean water like the plague, but he had gone through a lot of effort to plan this day and I was being a huge party-pooper.
So I got up, gave him the camera, climbed down near the water and (after only 15 minutes of quivering in fear and failed attempts)... JUMPED IN!!!! In the split second I hit the water, my years of fears were verified. I had flashbacks of those crazies jumping in a hole in the ice for the Polar Bear Plunge, and emerged instantly only to desperately want out, all the while trying to make my frozen, salt-water filled mouth squeal "ayudame, ayudame, ayudame!" Those key words requesting help were intended to remind my boyfriend of his promise to immediately come help me out of the water, since there was nowhere to grab on to the cement.... though apparently the sight was so pathetic and funny to him that he had decided to just stay up there, laughing and capturing the whole embarrassing scene on video...
*and stories of beach robberies and a couple nasty historical anecdotes about the previous state of the beach