Yesterday I did exactly what I've always said I hate doing most...I sat on a beach. All day. Doing nothing very much.
In fairness I was following my usual philosophy of never saying no without good reason to any offer of a new experience or place to see. It was also the first time I've surfaced and actually left the apartment before mid afternoon for at least a fortnight and it was a little cooler than it has been for the last week which also made it more appealing to be outside during daylight hours. I don’t know what the heat back home has been like, but here the humidity has been a killer and it’s made me lethargic and irritable.
So I got a lift with a friend and some people she knew (of sorts) who turned out to be very friendly, and I found myself at the beach with a group of fourteen Albanian Canadian’s who have lived here since childhood. This wasn't just any beach though, this was Wasaga Beach, something that I’d heard people here mention on numerous occasions during the recent heatwave as if it were a mythical place where everyone in the city longed to escape to.
I guess it was ok as beaches go, but it wasn’t the long stretches of golden sand and clear blue water that I’d pictured. For a start this is a freshwater beach of course, at the southern point of Georgian Bay and, in fact, the longest freshwater beach in the world at 14km long, but the recent storms here have given it a somewhat dirty appearance and the water wasn’t the crystal clear oasis I’d expected from the sales pitches I’d heard, more of a muddy grey colour.
The sand though was the main problem. Not usually one to complain, I quickly learned the error of my ways when I tried to reapply sunscreen for a second time an hour or so after we arrived. This wasn’t sand so much as sand-dust and the first application of sunscreen combined with the gentle breeze had turned me into walking human sandpaper. And this stuff doesn’t brush off. It sticks like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m surprised they don’t market it as an exfoliating spa treatment and slap a huge price tag on it. I certainly feel like I’ve lost a layer or two of skin as a result of the experience and I’m not sure I’ll ever get the stuff out of my towel!
It was an interesting place though for people watching. Aside from the families having barbecues in the dunes, the beach was full of beautiful people. Photo-shopped people, like a scene out of Baywatch. Bikini clad girls with perfect figures and perfect tans, guys subconsciously competing with each other, posturing and demonstrating their football and volleyball skills. As a place to just sit and watch people and ponder the whole psychology of their interactions, it was well worth the visit. It was also amusing to see the groups of people huddling around their cool boxes keeping a vigilant eye out for the RV patrol vehicles that came past every 20 minutes or so trying to catch out anyone breaking the law and drinking alcohol on the beach and thus, reportedly, earning them a slap on the wrist and a 180CAD fine. All in all it was an interesting experience, but it did confirm to me that my initial instinct was right when it comes to sitting aimlessly on beaches all day. By 7pm I was bored and hungry and ready to leave. Luckily an hour later everyone else was too.
After stopping at St Louis Wings & Ribs, a chain-type diner place in Barrie for some food (and enjoying the hilarity that followed seeing them desperately trying to find enough food to feed sixteen hungry people unexpectedly just before closing on a Sunday night) we got back to Toronto around midnight and for the first time since I’ve been here all I wanted to do was sleep.
It’s funny, my friend summed up the day perfectly – she said that whilst she had enjoyed doing something different, it reminded her of exactly what she had left back home and why she had decided to travel in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking anyone for enjoying simple pleasures in life such as relaxing on the beach with friends during a break from the weekday 9-5, in fact I wish at times I could be content with that, but it reaffirmed for me too that going out and seeing what else is out there was the right thing for me to do.
And as a random musical footnote, a song that seemed to come up a lot on someone's ipod shuffle during our trip for some reason...