La Roca Grossa, June 10 2002
It doesn’t look deep, cold or rough but the water was freezing. It was wavy and rough and I didn’t realize how rough until I swam out with one of the balloons. Each balloon was attached with a long string to a heavy weight- a water jug with sand in it. To place them we had to swim out carrying the weight with the balloon trailing behind us. It was 6 in the morning, the sun had just come up and the area had many reefs where, I had seen a few days before using a spontaneaously borrowed snorkel and mask, there were schools of tiny fish. The Mediterranean has the most sharks of all the oceans in the world (or so I heard…)
The water was freezing and it was windy. The morning had started out clear but by 6 AM there were already clouds on the horizon. I tugged the weight behind me into the waves. Once I was swimming, the weight pulled on me. I still had a long way to swim. I kept going as huge waves came against me. I got tired very quickly and instead of going numb as I had expected, my body was just freezing. I kept going but with every wave I swallowed more salty water, and I was getting out of breath. The wieght dragged me down, getting heavier. There was something ahead, I could see it when the waves went down. I’ve imagined scenes where people are drowning. I’ve imagined myself drowning. I’ve imagined how it would feel to realize that you are drowning. You should relax in the water and try to float, not fight it because you’ll lose more energy. I screamed to Gareth on the shore, "Help!!". He didn’t seem to believe me. I was only 4 meters off shore. He made swimming motions with his arms and smiled. I dropped the weight. I thought I heard it hit the sand 5 meters below. "I can’t do it", I screamed, while gulping more and more seawater and seeing my little white fleshy toes paddling frantically below the water. Waves crashed on me as I used all my strength to swim against the current back to the shore. As I dragged myself up on the shore, my body now warmed from the frantic swimming, I realized that I had (yet again) underestimated the power of water. When I looked at the water, the balloons seemed so small. The ocean stretched on forever, with no sign of a boat. Nothing for thousands of miles. The water was gray and the sky above was striped with a heavy bank of gray clouds. It is so easy for the air to make those huge clouds. They were the largest element in the landscape, and they were just air forms.
Gareth deposited the rest of the balloons out in the water, and he moved my pre-maturely dropped one out farther to be with the group. I felt somewhat defeated. At the point of placing the last few balloons in the water, 7 of the 17 had already popped while waiting on the beach for no apparent reason. Evidently, one balloon had popped and in doing so had popped the two balloons on either side of it. All that was left of them now were small blue stretchy fragments. Carlos the balloon salesman had assured and reassured me that these globos were made of high quality laytex (Qualaytex) and could be used at least 3 times over without breaking. They would expand to a diameter of 2 to 2.5 meters (that’s 6 to 8feet). It was already 10 in the morning and almost half the balloons had popped. No one had even arrived yet from Barcelona to see the piece. They probably hadn’t even gotten out of bed. Once they were all positioned in the water, Gareth and I sat on the shore and ate All-Bran with sour milk for breakfast. In the beginning, they weren’t popping once in the water, which led us to believe that perhaps near mircoscopic pieces of glass in the sand were causing them to pop. But by 1:00 in the afternoon the ones in the water had all popped as well.