We hopped off the boat at a lush palm beach. A stream ran through the beach sand, down into the ocean. The water was cold and fish darted around dodging our bare feet as we crossed. We followed the stream up into a leafy forest where it widened into a little river. The water was green, as if the bottom was covered in emerald sand.
Clambering upward along the path we passed a few quiet pools where fish swam in circles. Our voices echoed off the walls. And then we hit a cliff and had to turn back. I switched into water shoes and we waded into the river, continuing our way through the water.
Finally we reached the soft boulders, moulded pillow-like by tons and tons of water rushing down the gorge from the peaks above. Cold mountain water gushed down the rock pile, cascading in white foamy little waterfalls. The only way up was bouldering. In bikinis. Some of us were over 60 years old. All of us were ashtanga yogis so agility and strength was no issue.
We climbed the rocks and swam across the pools like children. I tore my bikini bottoms on the rocks while sliding down a cascade of water and stone. Some of us disappeared up the gorge for well over half an hour, while others floated down among the little fish in the cold clear water. In the middle of the boulders and cascades we met a group of gray-haired German backpackers who had hiked down following the river, all the way from the spring up above. They were swimming with shoes and backpacks, tumbling down into the water from the boulders, cackling with laughter, and not fearing hurting themselves.
And I could not help but wonder who sets the behavioral codes for those of us middle-aged and older? Who said proper grownups should not climb or be daredevils? Who said you must believe that you will hurt yourself if you climb a pile of slippery rocks when you are over sixty? And why is it that only a few of us care so little about societal limits that they stay strong and curious instead?
(Preveli Gorge, Crete, Greece; August 2014)