This, my friends, is the story of how a deaf guy gave me a black eye at the beach.
During the winter, many of the normally calm and serene beaches of Hawaii that entice snorkelers and leisurely swimmers turn spicy. Body surfers, boogie boarders, and surfers get their turn.
We are lucky enough to be experiencing the spicy waters of Hawaii, and we love it that way. Snorkelling can still happen – we just have to choose our idyllic spots. Otherwise, it’s a heyday for the wave riders of the island.
Now, as somebody with something of a teensy ocean-phobia, the really big waves are more of a spectator sport for me than a participatory one. Watching people engulfed in 10 foot curls, then popping up one by one in the whitewash 10-20 seconds later is much more enjoyable for me than being one of those people. However, even on calmer days, a rogue set can roll in and take you for a ride especially if you are in the wrong place.
Picture this: I am boogie-boarding like a pro. Never having done it before, I grab a cheap board from the hostel and instead of playing with the “big boys” out in the bigger waves, I ride the smaller waves and whitewash all the way in. Hey – ya gotta start somewhere.
The next time I go out, I am a pro. I decide I’ve got it all figured out and can play with the experts. (It helps that the waves on day two were considerably tamer, but we won’t focus on that – it takes away from the bravado of the whole episode).
One of the challenges (and hazards) of playing in the waves is getting past the break. There is an art to diving underneath the rolling waves and popping out the other side, or jumping above the smaller ones depending on whether it has already curled in on itself (broken) and is washing ashore. The next challenge to all this is doing it with a boogie board (ie: a big foam raft attached to your arm that can be more of a hindrance than a life-saver). Adeptly tucking the nose under the wave without popping up to soon and getting sucked under by the wave is tricky at best. And if the wave is too big, jumping over it isn’t always a possibility. And the worst possible place to be is right under it as it crashes on your head.
But none of that was a problem the day I got a black eye. No. The waves didn’t even do me in, specifically. It was the innocent-enough-looking-deaf-guy (Wayne) we came to the beach with who brought me to my knees.
There I was, expert and all, having ridden a fantastic wave in. I popped up, and started scampering back out to catch the next brilliant set. The waves had gotten progressively bigger throughout the afternoon, but the process was gradual enough that I hadn’t really noticed. Until I found myself in the wrong place trying to get past the break of a huge set.
I stood there and watched a gigantic wave come towards me. I watched it, boogie board in hand. Do I go over, or under? Over or under? I hadn’t yet mastered (or even successfully accomplished) the art of diving under a decent wave with the boogie board, and this wave was looking progressively larger and impossible to jump over. The curl was coming, coming, and almost aiming for my head. Over or under. Over or under.
Yikes! Too late! The only choice I had was to go with it. I turned around, jumped on the board, and started paddling with everything I had to avoid the curl from crashing down on my head. I narrowly missed that debacle, and was wildly caught up in the resulting wave energy as it pounded towards shore.
In my haste to turn around and ride the wave though, I hadn’t had a chance to aim the board at all or navigate my path between other swimmers and surfers. And who was there, smack dab in front of me but Wayne, who was facing shore and on his way in. Just as I was going at the highest possible speed with the wave, my eye collided nicely with Wayne’s elbow.
Thud! Was about all I remember, as I continued to wash ashore, unable to control the board or do anything except try to stay upright on the board. I stood up, adrenalin pumping through me, looked at Wayne, made sure he was okay (which he was), and headed back out for some more fun!
However, as the adrenalin wore off in the next couple of minutes, I realized that maybe I was a little more hurt than I had anticipated. A quick check with friends revealed that I wasn’t covered in blood – excellent. But a shiner was starting to make itself apparent. Cool! What a war wound! I’m a tough chick! Went boogie boarding, and came home with a black eye! I also broke the foam board in half too….apparently another sign of a boogie boarding master in action.
As the next week followed, my eye got darker and darker in colour, and I felt like I looked increasingly like a drug-addicted tramp. I would be enjoying conversation or a nice walk with some friends or hostel guests, and most of them were kind enough not to look at me in funny ways. But then I would walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, and wonder who the crack-addict was. Oops – it’s me.
So when you go boogie boarding, beware of big waves, being in the wrong place, and getting elbowed by deaf guys. It’s a big bad world of elbows out there.