There's a reason why humans feel so drawn to bodies of water.
The ancient Romans knew this. They integrated fountains into their living spaces because they liked the ambiance it created so much. They enjoyed the gentle sound the running water would make, the iucundissimum murmur. Something about the water merely made any garden or living space aesthetically pleasing to them. Fountains, lakes, waterfalls - all of these have similar effects on the person present.
As for me, I've always held a special place in my heart for the ocean.
San Carlos has been a favorite vacation spot for my family and me for many years, a little gem of a beach town right by the Gulf of California. One of my aunts has a house there, nestled away a few miles from shore. This tends to be where we usually stay on our visits. We would begin the drive from my hometown in the afternoon and arrive in the stillness of the warm, breezy night.
I've always been intrigued by the feeling of arriving at a favorite vacation destination in the night-time. It feels like the darkness of the night has wrapped up my favorite place and tucked it safely away, like a secret meant for only me and San Carlos to share. As a kid, I'd excitedly anticipate that next morning when I would wake up with the sun shining through the window of the room in the house my family shared, ready to indulge in one of life's greatest pleasures. But I knew that the night was also telling me to be patient. To breathe in the saltiness of the ocean air and hear the breeze dancing lightly through the palm trees was to feel it whisper to me: "No rush, I'll be waiting for you in the morning, dear friend."
I would wake up in the morning, bright-eyed and overzealous, eat cereal and mantecadas with my family, and put on my swimsuit, all the while rushing everyone so we could make the drive to the beach itself. After my mom had slathered my siblings and me with three coats of sunscreen, we would make the drive.
Finally, after finding a parking spot, making the mini-trek through the scorching-hot sand, setting up the tarp, and unloading the snacks, towels, chairs and ice chests, I was finally free to kick off my chanclas and run full-speed into the waves. The water was always a little cold at first, but that never mattered much to me. You just had to keep swimming.
I'd be wearing goggles so I could open my eyes safely underwater, dunking my head in and seeing if I could spot any fish below. The water felt wonderful on my skin and this utter peace would course through me. I'd swim around and lie on my back on the water with my feet up (because as much as I loved the ocean, I was still respectful enough to be wary of it). My cousins and I also had a game of attempting to catch the waves and see who could ride them furthest to the shore. Sometimes, we'd go into the very shallow area and let the waves roll us around. This was fun for a few years, but I must admit that it does leave sand impossibly stuck in your swimsuit. If our younger cousins were there, we'd build little sand castles with them on the shore. Observing the little kids play at the beach made it even more enjoyable for me. It was like reliving parts of your childhood while helping form theirs. I'd also sometimes go for short runs along the shore, despite the fact that the uneven ground is probably very bad for your ankles. And even though over the years there have been some jellyfish run-ins (and even a stingray one year), I've never been able to lose any love for it.
Being older now, I'm definitely more careful not to come home with a mountain of sand in my hair and am less inclined to look for the fish and crabs lying beneath the waves. However, standing where land meets sea, I am still captivated by its wonders. I am still reminded of my smallness. I am still in awe of how this vast expanse of water connects us to far off lands and people we may never meet. And the peace it inspires within will always remain the same.