“Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Journal, 18 December 2011. Pulau Penang, Malaysia.
AT THE BEACH.
Catherine and Candice are going to the beach to enjoy a lazy Sunday morning and invite us to tag along. Bruno prefers to stay at the apartment and rest, Kelley the same.
As we sit down in front of the sea to enjoy a drink, the girls immediately begin assaulting me with all sorts of incredibly overt questions – how my culture perceives relationships, what’s our attitude regarding sex before marriage, how many girlfriends and lovers have I had, etc.
He he, what a couple of cheeky girls! Not used to people being so curious about me or my background, I’m usually the one asking the questions and picking people’s brains for all sort of stories…
At some point in the conversation, Candice tells me about her Muslim boyfriend and how difficult it has been to nurture the relationship, and how his family is giving them hell because she’s a Catholic.
Recently she even considered converting to Islam so that they could be together! But now she’s beginning to believe it’s time for them to go separate ways…
“Life’s just too short for relationships to be so complicated”, she says. Maybe she’s onto something…
IN THE SEA.
Catherine and I go for a walk along the beach while Candice has a snooze in the shade.
At some point during the conversation she mentions she doesn’t actually know how to swim, even though she lives in an island and has been to the beach ever since she was a kid… I offer to give her some lessons to pass the time. She accepts, and goes to the car to get her swimming dress.
I enjoy the warm waters and wait, letting my mind wander… what a glorious sunny day. Despite the scare with Bruno this morning, I’m really glad I had the chance to stay in Penang for another day.
At this point I remember I’m not in Portugal and this is a Muslim country, as Catherine reappears… wearing even more clothes than before, and barely any skin showing. When she said “dress” she really did mean “dress”, one long and elaborate enough to make any swimming nearly impossible!
The following hour was hilarious to say the least. With so much hysteria and yelling and shouting going on, people must’ve either thought I was deliberately trying to drown Catherine, or that she was on crack cocaine or something…
Still, awesome fun! Although I’m gonna think twice before I ever try to teach someone else to swim…
• Fun day at the beach.
• Meaningful conversations with Catherine and Candice.
• Catherine (and I) didn’t drown.