4 October 2009


The ocean changes everything.  Mentality, spirit, the air…I can breathe here, the sky is blue here…  The onshore breeze from the Yellow Sea moves through the streets of Weihei removing a layer of pollution, which removes a layer of dirt on the washcloth and, I assume, my lungs.

We are some of the few swimmers here.  The locals don’t swim–most of them never learned how.  Two men in front of me, dressed in all navy blue, wrestle each other into the red sand.  Some have fishing poles and a couple sit by the waters edge scaling and gutting small fish.  There is hardly a frown here.  Families walk the beach with umbrellas to block the sun.  Mother and child are hand in hand, older siblings off wading in the water, their pants rolled to show the scars of mosquitoes past.  They throw the leafy seaweed at parents and into the waves. A heavy man, most likely drunk, walked past and yelled in our direction–our pile of sunbathing bodies, soaking in relaxation we have longed for, a pile of half-naked Meagwos (Americans) in the heaven that only the beach can offer.  He gawked at us.  He stripped down to his red underwear and marched into the water.  The pile of Meagwos erupted in laughter, especially when instead of swimming, he splashed himself, his fat belly with the salty water.  Look who’s gawking now?