So last weekend we went to Valencia. We spent the first day in the city, which was unexpectedly beautiful; I am very, very critical of cities so I surprised myself in loving it. ((A teacher recently reminded me that “to love” is not a transitive verb in the English language, but I choose to ignore that piece of information and keep on speaking the way I do)) After two evenings and one whole (long) day in the city, on Sunday we decided to go to the beach. We took the owner of our rented apartment‘s advice and went towards La Albufera, an area with beaches that was supposedly less touristic and cleaner than Valencia’s city beach. We got lost, then cruised through rice paddies and tiny villages until we finally reached the famous beaches. We randomly chose one. Gorgeous. Few people, calm, crystal-clear sea, light breeze. We went into the water, came out, went in again, lounged, people-watched. There was a couple that was sitting under an umbrella, whose shade was furnished with two chairs, a table and a cool-box. They were eating seafood and drinking white wine. From wine glasses. There was a large group of Valencians that were playing with a ball. There was a man in the water, apparently throwing large stones further out to sea. There was a boy that ran past us, jogging (at 2pm..), and then came back, jogging, about an hour later. There was a group of people that stopped about twenty meters from us to look at and take photos of something on the sand. We strolled over to investigate and found…
…a mound of jellyfish. Rhizostoma pulmo, to be exact. Large ones. Melting in the sunlight. They couldn’t have washed up to shore like that on their own – in my head I had an image of someone fishing them with a wide net, one of those that children use at the beach. Then I saw something in the water. The man that previously had been throwing stones was walking out with something in his hands. We stared.
He arrived at his dumping site with two more jellyfish that he dropped unceremoniously on the others. Skipping the obvious, I asked why he was doing this.
His answer: “Because or else they come close to shore and sting me”
My second question: “But don’t you get stung?”
His smile: “Of course! Look at my hands…..and legs!”
He went on to show me his swollen hands and the red splotches on his legs. I just stared, baffled. I asked him a few other questions, but his logic remained a mystery. He didn’t want to get stung, but stood waist-deep in the water, throwing some jellyfish back out in the sea (they’d just swim back, wouldn’t they?) and taking some to shore (arbitrarily choosing which to kill and which to catapult) and getting seriously stung in the process. We decided he must have had something not quite right and left him to it.