On the weekends my parents and I usually go ‘see the sea’. We live in a area in Portugal that has a lot of beaches around and every week we visit a different one.
However, last week we visited one that used to be very close to my heart.
When I was a kid my grandparents loved to bring my cousin and I to ‘Vieira de Leiria’, a beach that also has a waterpark closeby.
It would be in August time that we would dress up and pack up to go to the waterpark. That one day per year used to be the best. My grandad would put on a casette in the casette player and my cousin and I would be talking the whole ride about random stuff.
We parked and RFM (portuguese radio station) would always be on with ‘How to save a life’ by The Fray (don’t ask me how we always got this song when we arrived). Getting in my cousin and I already knew that we would have to share a sun lounger but we were always hopeful we would be grown enough to get one each. That never happened.
“Three sun loungers, two adults and two kids please.”
One day it would have been the last. I was the culpit too.
My grandparents would always put the sun loungers near the kids pool. Because even though my cousin is now 29 and I am 22/ almost 23, we were tiny kids once. We would just be playing around in the water, my grandmother would be looking over at us constantly and my grandfather would just have a nap until it was all over.
That day however, was no regular day. I decided to take on my biggest fear, the mushroom. You know those standard mushrooms that every waterpark has? yeah, those.
Now, you are to be mindful that I was tiny. This however, wasn’t. I was also having swimming lessons and was almost able to swim.
I felt confident and as we would only go to the waterpark once a year, this was my chanceto finally go to the mushroom. The most further away you are from the border, the deeper it gets. I toes wouldn’t touch the floor once I was near the huge water fughi.
I had a plan. ‘swim’ as much I as could until then, go and come back.
I’ve always been an anxious person, specially when confronted with a fear like this one. So, it didn’t really go as planned because I started to panic.
I approached the mushroom slowly, I could feel the water overcoming me. Then it reached my neck and I still had a bit to go.
Around me I could see these kids making all sorts of gymnastics and here I am, a true scaredy cat. They weren’t looking at me and yet, I was feeling mocked.
Once the water started to get into my nose level I started to panic. My panic made me want to breathe but I couldn’t. I started to go down. Saw the root and thought of hugging it but there was no way. I was there to stay.
Then I felt someone pulling me. I remember to move my hands and feet a lot while this whole thing was happening, trying to keep afloat. When that person pulled me I continued to do that. He simply said ‘you can put your feet down”. And I did.
Nobody in that waterpark noticed what had just happened. My grandma just happened to be a great lifeguard and told my cousin to go get me.
I was immediately wrapped like a burrito in a towel and, with my cousin in the pool, I finally had a sun lounger just for me.
Now I think my biggest fear would be that slide next to the mushroom. That was not there at the time.
I quit swimming lessons only to return when I was already in middle school, I went to ‘Mariparque’ twice after ‘the incident’ and I still have a fear of drowning.
You see those huge slides? Yeah my dad looks like a kid in Disneyland everytime we go to a waterpark with those while I… stay in my sun lounger.
My grandparents are not with us anymore but I treasured every single one of these moments. As for ‘Mariparque’, they have gone smaller since then and the park is lacking serious basic maintnance.