Eder in Playa El Agua

It’s afternoon, the sun is hot in the sky, and the surf is loud. I’m seven years old, the sun is beating down and there’s nothing but the water from here to Africa. The sun is hot and the waves are coming in and I’m jumping with them and they’re huge and exhilarating and a little bit dangerous. The water is warm and salty and sandy and I’m diving head first into waves bigger than me in ways the adult I would become would find horrifying but that right here right now feel exactly perfect.

Earlier, on the rickety TV with bad reception in the beachside hut that’s been selling dad highballs all day, we crowded around a tiny screen to try to catch a bit of España 82 and it seemed amazing to me that all the way out here in some forgotten corner of South America we could watch Eder doing magical things to the Soviets, live, as it happened all the way across this enormous ocean I was diving into again and again. Modern technology is amazing, I’d thought but not anymore because right now my whole body is consumed in this deep, carnal relationship with the waves crashing into it because I’m seven years old and the waves feel as big as mountains and there’s futbol at the other end of them.

And then dimly at first but more distinctly little by little I grow aware that dad is calling me in, “¡Quico! ¡Quico!” he’s screaming, “come here, you have to check this out, ¡this is amazing!”

So I struggle out, past the surf, into the shallows and up the beach where a hawker with an impenetrable margariteño accent is telling dad, “ji jeñor esaj ejtaban en el mar cuando Brasil metió el segundo gol.”

He’s digging around the corners of the oyster with this grubby, wornout knife, opening one in a couple of moves, like he’s been doing this his whole life, because he has. And the lemons are already in wedges as he spritzes a bit into the soft, glistening flesh and hands it to dad who hands it to me and says “just suck.”

And I do and it’s soft and cold and slippery and tart and salty and it’s like a rainbow of flavor just poured through the whole of my body because a second ago I was in the ocean and now the taste of the ocean has exploded in my mouth and the sun is hot and I’m seven years old and I know in my bones that Playa El Agua is the single best place in the whole world.

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