Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Initiation

Nancy & Dean- Sydney Australia

After an uneventful 23 hour flight I arrived safely in Sydney early Friday morning (Australian time). Dean was waiting at the arrival gate with flowers and a  big smile on his face. Finally the long wait was over and now we can start our adventures together here in Australia.

First, we loaded my hundreds of pounds of luggage into the car and headed home to check out our new place!  I LOVE our home! It's roomy but not too big, clean, modern and so novel to be living in a house instead of a high rise building for once. It instantly felt like home and was exciting to be re-united with all my possessions that set sea way back in December. Even Railey's bed is here ready and waiting for his arrival. Next week I'll begin to decorate, hang pictures and find a place for everything.

Dean took me on a short walk around the hood so I could get my bearings. It feels so strange to have no clue where you are or how to get around. I imagine I'll feel a bit displaced for a while.

I could barely wait to go to the beach.. so we pulled on our bathing suits, hopped in the car and headed to Bondi Beach. We walked up the rocky coasted trail from Bondi to Tamarama Beach, sat on the rock cliff and watched the surfers below battle the waves while we chatted and caught up on some of the events of the past few months apart. I noticed flags down on the beach below.. "what do you think those flags mean?" I asked Dean. "Oh probably no surfing or something?" After about an hour or so we walked back down to Bondi beach and decided it being my first day in Oz, I needed to be initiated to the ocean. It wasn't the warmest day so the water was quite cold but we both bravely ran in, jumped the waves and eventually became fully submerged. It was all fun and games until there was a sudden change of events.

I noticed on shore a blue lifeguard cart and one of the guards yelling at us with a loud speaker but I could not hear a thing he said. I figured it must be dangerous where we were swimming, "We have to go in Dean, swim in"  I yelled and began to swim in toward the lifeguards. Suddenly I couldn't touch bottom and the currents seemed to get stronger. Dean who seemed calm and collected but admits later he was freaking kept yelling to me "swim sideways" but I was beginning to struggle in the water with the current and the large waves crashing over me.

We were stuck in a rip tide, and no matter how hard we kicked we were not moving, if anything we were being sucked out further.  I consider myself a strong swimmer but began to panic as I was struggled to keep afloat and began to get quite tired from the effort of kicking in such strong water.  It wasn't long until I saw someone appear in front of me on a surf board. "Climb on" he said. It was the lifeguard who came to save the day and thank god he did otherwise I think we would have been fish food. Even on the surf board the waves made the return back to shore a challenge.

I soon noticed there was a guy with a video camera and on the beach stood a dude with a boom and microphone.  "What's with the video equipment?" I asked. "Oh we are filming for a show called Bondi Rescue, a real life lifeguard rescue show" (Which apparently airs in Canada too, so if your flipping through the channels and think you see us being pulled from the ocean on Australia's version of Bay Watch, yes that's really is us.)

Once we were both safe on shore again, they asked us to do a short interview about our experience. We explained what happened and honestly I felt pretty stupid to say I'm from Canada and this is my first day in Australia. However, another part of me thought it was pretty funny that we had become such spectacles the first time in the ocean.

Today we learnt valuable lessons. Obviously we didn't understand the true meaning of flags on the beach is to swim between the flags because the other areas are too dangerous not Dean's version of 'do not surf on beaches with flags'. Also, we learnt the power of a rip tide and strength of the ocean. Although this was an unfortunate event, I consider us lucky to have experienced it sooner than later and on a beach where there were watchful lifeguards there to help us.

Exhausted by the day's events we drove home laughing about the fact we will be on Bondi Rescue, but shaken by such a close call.

Living in Australia 101:  Lesson of the day - swim between the flags and never underestimate the power of the ocean.

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