Marc has asked if I have any funny stories to share. This one happened a couple of years ago and although it didn’t seem particularly funny at the time it often brings a smile to my face now.
I had been enjoying an unusually long period where everything was ticking along just dandy, in fact, it would be fair to say exceptionally dandy; I was back in Andalusia to unwind and to look for additional locations to conduct courses and adventure holidays. It was 8 a.m. and the morning began in the normal way for a Sierra Cabrera September morning: hot sun, blue sky, with the occasional birdsong. My plan was to partake of my normal breakfast of two Wheatabix biscuits with a drizzle of honey, a handful of dried fruit, a generous helping of fresh pomegranate from the garden and milk; this was to be followed by a shower and then a trip to a remote and particularly beautiful part of the coast around 30 kilometres away to try a new and interesting place to take snorkellers. What could possibly go wrong?
Those who have read my articles may be under the impression that I plan everything meticulously and am so well organized as to be completely immune from these ‘bad days’; quite right too. It is, unfortunately, with a heavy heart that I have to report that this is sadly not the case. It should be, but it isn’t.
The villa is on two levels, each with its own terrace; the lower en-suite room is where I shower in the summer as the bathroom is larger and I have my breakfast on the lower terrace anyway. I should mention at this stage that the patio doors that give access to the lower bedroom/bathroom cannot be opened once closed from the lower rooms for security purposes. I am sure you can guess where this is now going but I’ll continue all the same. I descended to the downstairs bathroom for my shower in the normal way, naked and pulling the sliding patio door almost closed (or so I thought). As it is hot and dry, there is no benefit from using a towel and as such no sense whatsoever in taking one down with me (or so I thought, again). After my shower and my subsequent dry-off in the hot Andalusian sunshine, I ascended the open stairs to prepare my breakfast. It was at this point that I discovered that I had, in fact, closed the sliding door a little too far. I was now stuck on the lower level with no clothes or towel; the only way back in was to go out of the lower gate onto the road and make the 50 meter sprint to the front door of the villa while trying to make it all look a natural as possible using my mountain bike helmet.
The Cause: Self-inflicted I’m afraid. As an engineer everything in the villa works and runs perfectly; I had recently re-furbished the locks and runners in that door and they were so smooth as to be almost silent. I have since modified the locking system so as to gain entry from the lower level.
The Snorkel Location
After my earlier ‘adventure’, I set off to the remote area to check out the snorkelling; I should mention that I had been here a few days before doing a bit of ‘bouldering’ in the small remote rocky cove. I arrived in the heat of the day and as the place was deserted I decided that although this was not designated a ‘naturist’ area that I would not bother with my shorts and top-up my suntan while working. The small cove is split by a small ravine that can be traversed easily with three or four big ‘jug’ holds while your feet dangle in the air about eight feet above the ground, a boulderer’s paradise really; although I did not know it then, this was to be the location of my second ‘incident’ of the day. I had gone to the far side of the cove first but decided that as the small ravine would have to be crossed by the snorkellers, it would be best to enter the water from the nearside and snorkel around. Now, as a diving instructor, I am quite good at moving around while wearing diving/snorkelling gear and as my leg muscles are used to ‘finning’, I have an extra large pair of floppy open-water fins for snorkelling. As I needed to assess the entry on the near side I had to cross the ravine and as I had been bouldering there recently I was confident that the easiest way across was to use the ‘jug’ holds. I determined that as my feet would not be on the ground anyway that there would be little point in taking the fins off as I was to be out of the water for only 30 seconds or so while I traversed the ‘jugs’; I also left my mask on and my snorkel in place. It was at around this point when things started to deteriorate. I was hanging by one hand trying to place one of my big fins down when I noticed that the Guardia Civil (local police) were by my car looking at me hanging off a rockface with one hand in nothing more than a big pair of fins, mask and snorkel (in place) and a diver’s knife strapped to my leg. On achieving the required foot placement I removed my now slightly misted mask (and snorkel) only to find that one of the officers was female. I tried to explain to them in my best Spanish what I was doing but they were too busy laughing and retreated to their 4×4 shouting “Si, si, adios amigo.
Sadly, It Doesn’t End There
They say that these things always come in threes, but nobody really believes that cosh’. I reasoned that the sooner I was back in the water the better and also reasoned that I would be better finning out on my back rather that have my bare bum on view to the Guardia as they made their retreat; this plan, although well thought out was also flawed, as I was just about to find out. As the Guardia made their way back to the road they stopped for another look, presumably only to confirm that they had actually seen what they thought they had seen. I continued out until they gave a final wave from the vehicle and disappeared. I smiled to myself, happy that I had got away with it and that once again, all was well in the world; at that point I turned over in the water only to find that I had finned right into a large smack of jellyfish. There seemed to be thousands. I know from scuba diving that more often than not, large smacks of jellyfish rarely swim near the bottom. I managed to get down to the bottom, my ‘bits’ nestled safely in both hands and thanks to the big pair of fins managed to swim out underneath them, family jewels intact! Needless to say that I retreated back to the villa for the rest of the day… I know when I’m beat!
Some months I travel across many countries and cover tens of thousands of kilometers without incident. On this occasion I was scuppered in the relative safety of my own back yard!
Not surprisingly, there are no photos with this article.
Location: Andalucia Spain