May 5, 2009

Awaiting My Doom in the Frigid Portuguese Coastal Waters

I flipped through the pictures on my wife's digital camera the other day when I came across a few dozen images still on her SD card from our vacation to Europe last summer. The picture on the left is me braving the extremely cold waters just north of Cabo da Roca.

Portugal, you see, lies between the North Atlantic Drift and the Canary Current, and for much of the year the water off the northern coasts of Portugal is quite chilly. I found this fact difficult to reconcile with the warm temperatures in Portugal during the month of August.

Yet the water at the Praia das Maçãs was as cold as that found in Lake Superior during the month of April.

And there I stood, waist-deep in the icy surf, too stubborn and proud to admit that I drove an hour on winding roads through the Serra de Sintra only to find a beach that no sensible person would leave for a swim.

Oblivious, of course, to the eight-foot sea swell that loomed just overhead.

I also found it strange to see myself in images, not necessarily in a narcissistic way, but because I take thousands of pictures of subjects other than me. My wife had dozens of these pictures of my pudgy self, and looking at all these pictures of me was kind of like seeing the world through a different pair of eyes, or like reading someone else's diary. God only knows what she sees in me, but I am thankful that at least one person on the planet is not repelled by my love handles.


Mad Jack said...

My, but you certainly look, ah, prosperous there, HistoryMike. Perhaps a bit too prosperous, eh?

I don't know what your wife sees in you either. Quite frankly, you don't do a thing for me. I suppose you might begin by admitting that the kindness and generosity of some women is a truly amazing thing to behold.

Now as for me, I've been to the gym every single day except Sunday since last (Black) Wednesday. I'm going to see if my efforts do any good at all.

I know what you mean about seeing pictures of yourself. When my Main Lady got a new video camera we made some home movies, and I'll tell you Mike if you want to see something really strange...

Jill said...

I love it!!! Thank you for sharing this photo and memory and experience. I would have gone in too, if it makes you feel any better - I grew up going into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine, where, even in the hot summer, the temps never get much above 60 and usually hover around 56-58. Ankle-freeze big time and we loved it. :)

historymike said...


Yes, that is a kind word, "prosperous." It was not that long ago when an extra 15-20 pounds meant a person was wealthy enough to eat well.

Now I run the risk of being called a "fat slob" for my midsection.

historymike said...

Thanks, Jill. On a trip to Bar Harbor in August a decade ago, we ecountered the chilly waters of the Bay of Fundy, which were the equal of the icy seas near Portugal.

Anonymous said...

Let us be glad that the Portuguese coast is not infested with pirates who might have abducted you for a high ransom.

I also swam in that neighborhood and will never forget those chilling waters and the chuckes of my wiser Lusitanian friends who stayed ashore.