By Anthony Baker, 21 July 2022
I can’t say for certain when this happened. There's no evidence of it on the trip calendar. It’s like it exists only in our hearts, in our memories.
Tacos was held on a wet Tuesday night at Nathan’s apartment. The apartment was crammed full of trampers eager to meet other trampers. We ran out of plates, so I had to eat my taco off the lid of a pot. Someone tried to convince me to get a job at Crab Shack.
As I was washing my lid, maybe it was about 9.30, Amon sidled up to me.
He asked me, “Do you want to go for a swim in Oriental Bay? Most of the people in this room are going.”
“I didn’t bring my togs,” I said.
“None of us did.”
When I brought up my concerns about the cold, he said, “I’m prepared. I’ve got my long johns.”
I was convinced. It felt liberating to go, screw it, I know it’s not normal but we’re gonna go swimming in the cold and rain. A group of us set off towards Oriental Bay, chatting excitedly, although there were a few deserters (not naming anyone) who peeled off and went home to warm beds. We booed them but maybe we were jealous of their sensible life choices. I walked beside Tuscany, and I’d like to think we gave each other strength.
Having weaved through town, we arrived at Oriental Bay. The water was a black-ish blue in which we could see reflected the bright lights of the city. The wind was calm. A sense of excitement hung in the air.
We stripped to our undies, leaving piles of clothes on the grass. We ran across the sand beach – I think Amon was first in the water. We were egging each other on. “Come on in! It’s not that bad.” I waded in a little at a time. When I put my head under it was, as you would expect, a shock to the system. Cold, cold, cold.
Some brave souls sprinted along the pier and jumped in off the end (avoiding the sharp-looking rocks). They called out like sirens to the less brave. I was nearly swayed, but just stood on the pier, shivering, teeth chattering.
But I wasn’t about to call it quits just yet – one last dip at the beach end. Tuscany pointed out how we’d been swimming in bioluminescence. Close to the shore, the water was glowing a bright blue, some Avatar-type shit. It was v. cool and slightly unreal. When you scooped up the sand in your fingers, it glittered. None of us had been expecting this, an added bonus.
Dripping wet, we shimmied our clothes back on. We were a little bit drunk on how *spontaneous* we’d been, and likely not thinking straight because of the cold. We huddled together near the shower cubicles and sang a song which I can’t remember. On the way back some questionable street crossings were made. Most of the party headed to Enigma for hot chocolates. But not me or Tuscany – we were too cold to hang around. We live near each other, and so when the group reached Enigma, we split off, saying our goodbyes, and power-walked back to our respective flats. I feel a little bit bad for my flatmates for showering at like 12.30 AM. But never has a hot shower been so good.