Yesterday we picked up a chicken with the fixings from Familia Tomas in Canotal, and headed to the east coast with a fork, paper towels, beach mats, and a towel. The idea was to have a picnic on the beach - break the routine of eating at the kitchen counter. It was a hot sunny day, but on the east side there was a cooling breeze.
Since it was Miguel's idea, I let him decide where to go and where to set up. I thought we'd sit on the sand, but he drove farther down the coast to the rocky area. We carted our stuff over to a big rock right in front of the breaking waves, and laid out the meal. Only problem - there was nowhere to sit, we'd used the mats to place under the food. So we stood up and ate - tearing at the pieces of chicken with our hands and wrapping the food in tortillas. We ate the spaghetti in a tortilla too.
After the meal I wanted to wash my hands. To get to a small cove where I could go in and wash my hands, I had to walk over the rocky shore. I was wearing crocs and my feet slipped around as I stumbled over the small rocks and shells. Once I was in the water and standing in the sandy bay, my crocs made it even harder to walk. My foot slid sideways, and I stumbled, catching myself on a rock but pulling a muscle in my back as I twisted. Ouch.
It wasn't easy getting out of the water with slippery feet, but I couldn't take my crocs off because of the sharp rocks. Carefully I plodded, watching every single step so I wouldn't make a wrong move and end up sprawled on the ground. Miguel had found a small area on the other side where we could sit and watch the surf - only problem was, I had to climb down from the rock to get there. It wasn't much more than a giant step down, but in slippery crocs, I grabbed Miguel's shoulder for support and gingerly placed my feet.
Getting out later was another challenge, and then walking back to the golf cart with wet feet, sliding all over the place. I picked up each foot and planted it before taking another step - sort of like those show horses when they prance around the ring lifting their feet high, with their mane and tail swishing in time with their steps.
There was a day when I didn't care if I fell. In the past I've taken some nasty tumbles and it was no big deal. I've broken a toe when I was running for the phone and jammed the toe into the couch. I fell through a glass end table and badly bruised my body (and my pride), but there was no lasting damage. I was younger then.
Now I'm acutely aware of the fragility of my body. Just in the few years that I've been here, I've had quite a few accidents. I fell out of bed a couple of months ago and my knees took a long time to heal - I'm still not sure I didn't crack the left one. I've tripped over the hammock and ending up swinging upside down to avoid a crash to the ground - that wrenched my shoulder. I am constantly bumping into furniture and sporting big bruises. I've whacked my head on the corner of cupboards. I've pinched my skin in the hinges of tools. I've stepped on a rusty nail. I've had concrete blow into my eye. I've fallen backwards when trying to sit in a chair that the wind blew out from under me. I've slid on palm fronds I was picking up and placing on the front path, landing hard. I've tripped over anything and everything one could possibly trip on in the roads here. I've fallen into the sea when trying to board the ferry. Possibly I'm accident-prone.
My body hurts every day - my back and shoulders mostly. When I travel my feet and legs swell up like an 80-year-old woman with congestive heart failure. I am ready to admit that I am too old to be falling down. I walk with careful steps, watching the ground for anything that might trigger a fall. I am not afraid to take Miguel's shoulder for support. And when the time comes, I'll use a walking stick. Anything to avoid hitting the ground.
I'm not young any more.