FBF came to visit me, and the sunny state of California, for three weeks this summer. It was his first trip to the United States, and I had planned various activities in order to give him the full Californian experience.
For his first whole day in the country, I planned a day at beach. What could be more relaxing and simultaneously very Californian than experiencing first hand California beach culture?
We walked from my house down to the beach, grabbed some beach chairs, and picked out a prime piece of real estate in order to enjoy the beautiful crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. We sat on the beach, explored the tide pools, and then finally braved the freezing ocean water.
FBF's photo of the beach by my house.
We were about knee deep in the water, when, as an afterthought, I warned him about stingrays. Although I’ve never been stung, as a young girl I was taught the stingray shuffle. Upon entering the ocean, if you shuffle your feet in the sand, the stingrays know that you are nearby, and they swim away. It took me a while to remember to pass on my stingray shuffle knowledge to FBF. I also told him not to worry about it too much, as I had never known anyone to be attacked.
Pretty soon we were completely submersed and swimming around in the ocean. We were laughing and having a good time, stingrays far form our thoughts. After a bit of swimming, FBF put his feet back on the ocean floor. Suddenly his face changed from a jovial expression to one of pain.
“Ça va?” (Are you okay?) I asked.
“Mon pied m’a fait mal,” (my foot hurts) he replied.
“Did you step on a stingray?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
We swam to the shoreline, and then he gimped out of the ocean. His foot was gushing blood, but he could still walk on it. I led him to the lifeguard tower, where the lifeguard confirmed FBF was attacked by a stingray. He knew it was a stingray because stingray cuts have serrated edges. He explained how the tail enters the skin, releases it’s venom, and then pulls back out, leaving serrated edges behind.
The lifeguard said FBF was lucky, as he was still able to walk on his foot. Still, I don’t know how lucky it is to be stung by a stingray your first time in the Pacific Ocean, let alone be the only person I’ve ever known to be stung by a stingray.
FBF, however, does feel lucky. He is hoping his cut will scar, as he feels ever so special due to his chance encounter with American wild life. It appears we do still have wild and dangerous animals roaming freely in our country out to get visiting Europeans.