A day at the beach

I have just over a week left in Salento. I’ve taught my final classes and now have lots of external exams to do, but already the air is more relaxed around here. 32 degree heat and sunning myself on the beach no doubt helps that feeling, but it’s also about not having to worry about my students any more. Half of them have already taken their exams and the ones that still have to do them in this coming week – well, it’s out of my hands now. I wish them all the very best of luck, but there’s no more handholding to be done, thankfully.

The beach yesterday was delicious. Or, should I say, the rocks. It’s best to avoid the actual beaches on a sunny Saturday afternoon, as they’ll be rammed. Where we were, there were definitely more people than the last time we went at the beginning of May, but it was far from crowded. We were free to sit and sun ourselves and gaze out to sea. Even, maybe, to fall asleep for an hour or so, waking up sun-toasted and thirsty but feeling infinitely better for having relaxed.

A man walks his dog along the path the far side of the inlet. Emptying his pockets of mobile phone, keys and wallet, he goes straight into the water and takes the dog with him. Holding firmly to the dog’s collar, he gives her a thorough wash, removing the red Salentino dust that she has accumulated on her walk. She submits to this with good grace, paddling furiously to keep herself afloat. He lets go of her collar and encourages her back out onto the rocks, where she scrambles to higher ground and surveys the sea with a big doggy grin. They repeat the process a couple more times, and then decide to swim across the inlet. Vieni con me! calls the man, and his dog paddles after him, racing to be first to the other side. 2/3 of the way across I lose sight of them under the cliff, but I can hear him talking to her, encouraging her the last few feet. Brava! signals that she has safely reached the rocks on our side, and I hear her scrabbling up out of the water and giving a perfunctory bark of triumph.

I wade, thigh-deep, into the water and consider launching myself out for a swim, but decide against it. I’m happy standing here, watching tiny fish flittering just below the surface. They have emerald green flashes down their side which sparkle when they catch the sun. Seemingly all of one mind, they send a series of ripples across the surface of the water as they change direction at lightning-fast speed. Further down, fishes the size of my hand venture out from their hiding places in the rocks to nibble on pink and purple seaweed. The swifts swoop low over the water, wheeling and skimming over the head of the one swimmer left in the water, while their babies chatter and tweet fit to burst in the cliffs. The limestone around here is peppered with deep pits, perfect for birds to nest in, and they clearly do.

It’s beautiful here. Calabria next year has a lot to live up to.

Image by Kate Bailward

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About Kate Bailward

Kate Bailward is a cat-loving, trifle-hating, maniac driver. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
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9 Responses to A day at the beach

  1. CarrieLyn says:

    That is an amazing picture! Congratulations on being finished for the year! I can only hope that I’ll make it out of the year unscathed. So, Calabria next year? I look forward to many more ‘make me want to be there’ posts from you!
    CarrieLyn´s last post ..Back

  2. Nicely done, really nicely done.
    Judith in Umbria´s last post ..Catch up

  3. LindyLouMac says:

    I have enjoyed following your time in Salento and will continue to do so in Calabria when you introduce to more people and places.
    LindyLouMac´s last post ..Sunday Song – World Cup Football Tribute

  4. Katja says:

    Thank you very much, ladies. Yes, it’s Calabria next year, so there will be all-new stories as I attempt to settle in to a new area and no doubt confuse myself and others entirely in the process! I’m really looking forward to it …

  5. Louise says:

    Looking forward to summer up here in the north too…

  6. Very interesting. Seems like a wonderful thing that you do that allows you to live in Italia! Complimenti! Not quite sure how your job works though. How do your assignments get picked? Are you assigned them or do you apply for them? Where in Calabria are you headed? In bocca al lupo!
    Melissa Muldoon´s last post ..• Lello monello ha fatto un gran macello…

  7. Katja says:

    It *must* get to you soon, Louise! I seem to have dragged it up to Paris with me, so surely northern Italy has some sun as well …

  8. Katja says:

    Yes, it’s a pretty good lifestyle, all told. :) I choose the jobs inasmuch as I apply for jobs in places that I’d like to be, but obviously it then comes down to whether the school likes me or not. I applied for this particular job last year but didn’t have the requisite experience, so was really pleased to find that they were looking for someone this year too, now that I have a year’s working under my belt.

  9. Pingback: Travelling without moving - Driving Like a Maniac – Driving Like a Maniac

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