Sandwood Bay, Scotland (Part II)

surfing at sandwood bay

This account of my adventure to Sandwood Bay, Scotland is Part II of III. Catch up on part I here

Day 2

This evening, I’m writing to you from my tent. What was once merely a place to sleep and sneak kisses from Will has become half haven, half prison. The aforementioned midges have reappeared in full force after a relatively benign few hours. I am quite literally trapped in here as they have blockaded the tent entrance by the hundreds.

Amy is similarly trapped, though she had the good sense of seeking refuge in the “food tent” – a fifth tent Hans and Esther brought along to store our four days of food, gear and water, and to serve as a group hang out place in case of inclement weather; inspired ideas on both counts.

The others were surfing when the bugs settled in and are now trapped on the beach, where a hint of a breeze provides some refuge.

If only there were somewhere to pee in here…

Anyway, I’ll take the opportunity to write about today:

Today began with a swim in the sea. I was terrified by the sea’s power at first (I got tumbled once in Hawaii that’s made me wary ever since), but Will kindly stayed with me and my confidence built. With my surfing fins and diving mask on, I soon realized I had all the tools to be a sea creature and settled in to enjoying the movement of the waves picking me up and putting me down. Surrender and enjoy!

I’ve seen so many photos and videos taken from below the surface of water, looking up at waves crashing down. But this trip was the first time I’d put on a mask, ducked under, and turned around. What an astonishing sight! A wave forms a peak, whose unlikely shape looks like it must be a glass sculpture and not the dynamic liquid that it is. The water curling over from the break and falling down creates magnificent cloud-like plumes. And the way the light plays with it all, catching highlights and sparkling bubbles, shining through translucent bits!

Will had surf fins too, so the two of us armed with our new seal-like appendages instead of useless human feet, had a go at a bit of body surfing. As a fairly experienced surfer himself, Will has that crucial knowledge of when you are in the right place at the right time and helpfully signaled when to go for it. We caught several together, kicking like mad until we felt the sea take us, jutting our arms out straight, enjoying the ride, our tiny faces bobbing along in the froth.

It is quite the experience to feel you are at the same time entirely one with all of the sea, perfectly joined with its epic and undeniable power, but then also just a tiny insignificant drop in the vast ocean of an infinite number of other drops, all totally vulnerable to being utterly smashed. It’s akin to a feeling I get when I meditate – being nothing and everything at the same time – and yet, while meditation seems to encourage my body to melt away, bodysurfing is an incredible visceral, physical manifestation of that same feeling. I suppose it’s a bit like feeling incredibly alive because you think you are about to die.

sandwood bay beach

We also walked around the beach a lot today, explored the loch, and met a volunteer who was cleaning old fishing garbage (like bits of old rope) off the beach. He was a real old timer. He must have been well over sixty-five, but still made that long trek out with a backpack, and a couple of garbage bags. His face was deeply wrinkled, and weather-worn. I’d like to think when I am a little old lady and I retire to doing volunteer work, it will be to do epic four mile hikes to a gorgeous, remote place where I can spend a few hours to leave it a bit more beautiful than when I found it.

Amy has left her tent now and gone to join the others on the beach, so I am alone in our camp. The lone tent prisoner. I may have to break through the midge barrier and join them. If you don’t hear from me again, I’ve been eaten alive.

This post featured 2 polaroid photos I took on the trip. Check out more of my polaroid travel photography on my portfolio website

Continue reading the final installment in the Sandwood Bay Adventure!