The Men’s Only Bathing Place. Except it’s for women too now. There is an apology underneath the sign.
It’s like a club here, and for forty minutes or so I am welcomed as a temporary member by the aul fellas. They spend a lot more time sitting, chatting, watching, and changing, than actually swimming.
There is a woman swimming away out; she is about sixty. All you see is the black dot of her swimming cap and if the waves allow a view, you can catch sight of the white of her shoulders sliced down the middle by her swimming costume.
As I get in, she is coming out. She is not even out of breath.
The steps are slimy; I nearly slip then grab the cold metal all the way down and slide my feet tentatively along each step.
It takes me only a minute or so to psych myself up and launch into the water. I am getting quicker…
The water is murky. I can’t see anything down there although I kind of prefer it like that. Doesn’t seem so deep and vast.
When I get out I have lost the feeling in my toes. It doesn’t come back for a long while.
There is a black guy collecting fresh sea water for his son’s eczema. He politely listens as the men enjoy listing every possible cure for eczema they have ever heard of.
One guy, who seems to be a bit of a leader, shows me where a big chunk of concrete was tossed by the powerful storm waves yesterday as if it were a piece of light polystyrene.
We go on chatting and he says that himself and the other regulars swim at the Guillomene every single day of the year.
Did you swim yesterday? I ask.
No, no. We didn’t swim yesterday, he says.