The Mediterranean Sea was the first sea I knew about as a child.
A picture of the soothing blue Mediterranean Sea was in the front pages of the Bible my grandparents gave me for my 5th birthday. There were no pictures of the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence Seaway — bodies of water near me when I was growing up. The Mediterranean appealed to my imagination with its long name and mysterious involvement in many Sunday stories.
My Sunday school teachers had delightful teal-blue pieces of felt with big letters spelling “Mediterranean” on it.
If you were attentive and good in Sunday school, you might be chosen to place the “Mediterranean Sea” on the big felt storyboard that everyone was looking at. On that big felt storyboard, the Mediterranean Sea was place first and then it was surrounded by pink and yellow countries where Jesus must have walked. It was that light blue Mediterranean piece of felt that mesmerized me as a child.
“Mediterranean” was a big word. I had spent precious minutes as a five year old learning how to say it. I’m still spending precious minutes on the word as an adult typing a blog post and correcting my spelling.
Many years later, I have put my feet in the mystical, Mediterranean Sea. It does not matter that the country I am visiting is perhaps one of the farthest across the waters from where Jesus walked. Water is spiritual, healing and moves in mysterious ways.
To study the Mediterranean Sea in front of me was to see a sea lined with coarse reddish-brown sand. Hundreds of thumbnail-sized black-and-white granite stones tumbled at the sea’s edge. Bright red stones stood out from tiny pieces of sea-glass.
Although they hurt to walk on with bare feet, the stones were so very different from the sharp seashells at the edge of the Atlantic ocean or the Gulf of Mexico in my home state. At all waters’ edges — shell, stone or soft sand — I love the beauty and range of colors.
The water of the Mediterranean was clear, crisp, cool, transparent. Apparently clean — no oil rimming the shoreline, no foam at the edge, no flotsam or jetsam . It was slightly salty water, like a finely prepared olive.
Farther from the shore, people were sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking and swimming laps — pursuits of a purely athletic intent. There were no noisy seadoos.
It was a moment of nostalgia for a Mediterranean Sea that I felt I knew as a young child. I looked for sandals on people — the big, brown, leather, sturdy sandals that Jesus was pictured as wearing (in that same Bible my grandparents gave me).
But it was not warm enough for sandals. Then I remembered the literature one reads about Barcelona’s pickpockets. It warns you not to look like a tourist. Tourists wear sandals. They wear fanny packs, backpacks, and bright colors.
I hoped I did not look like a tourist when I rushed to water’s edge to put my feet in to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time ever in my life.