“Bwar! Bwarrrrrrrr!” Shaun yelled as soon as she was submerged in the icy Adriatic.
“Shhh,” I had urged her, moving my body to keep warm in the water. “No one knows we are here.”
Despite our best efforts to keep quiet, we couldn’t. Our smiles, our squeals of discomfort and adrenaline as the frigid water swirled around our bodies, our elation at getting away with it, there was no way we could be silenced.
After an epic evening in Split, my new friend and I had decided now was the perfect time to go skinny dipping in the Adriatic Sea.
I knew if I would have declined her suggestion there was a good chance I would never do it. And, I also knew there was a good chance if I had turned it down, such an opportune moment might never present itself again. I had made it my goal to go outside of my comfort zone, and this certainly did just that.
So, I did what any slightly intoxicated traveler in a foreign land would do — hastily removed all of my clothes, threw them on the sidewalk next to the water, and, along with Shaun, plunged into the inky black sea.
The first thing I felt was bliss.
I was naked. In the Adriatic Sea. Thousands and thousands of miles away from my norm. And it felt absolutely amazing. Empowering. FREE.
The second thing I felt was the cold water seeping into my pores. During the day, in the heat of the sun, the water had still been somewhat chilly. But, it was tolerable because of the daylight. And, because who on earth would let the slightly not warm water stop them from experiencing Split’s greenblue beauty? I sure wasn’t.
But, at night with nothing to keep you warm except some alcohol coursing through your blood, it was damn cold.
The third thing I felt was pain.
A sharp, shooting pain that sparked in my ankle and then shot up my leg.
Shaun and I had thrown caution to the wind and jumped our bare selves into the water from the sidewalk. There was a ladder that led the more sober, and more aware, swimmers into the water. But, we were going for broke under the cover of the starry night sky.
When I jumped in, my ankle twisted in a way it wasn’t supposed to twist. I had overestimated the depth of the water, and what I thought was deep was actually no higher, when standing tall, then my thighs. I jumped like I was jumping into a swimming pool, not a wading pool. Puddle jumping.
The two of us stayed in the water for a minute or so. After 30 seconds, the cold had penetrated our brains and we could barely take it. We both climbed out — using the ladder this time — and quickly gathered our belongings and putting our clothes back on.
In the distance, we heard talking, but didn’t pay much attention to it. It was pitch black where we were. We had found a spot that was in between the street lamps, so there wasn’t much anyone could see. If anyone could see anything at all.
It wasn’t until later I learned Shaun really had heard voices. And they belonged to Mel and Simon, who had both seen the two of us stop, ponder, strip, jump, emerge and leave the scene.
“Stop,” she said, and pulled out her camera.
“No way,” I said. “There are not going to be any naked pictures of me!”
But, at that point, I was already half-dressed so a photo was inconsequential.
“We have to document this. We have to prove we did it,” Shaun said.
So, of course, I obliged.
In the photo, we are both smiling like school children running free at recess.
We decided we needed to go back to the group at the bar and report to them our wild late night antics. Together, me hobbling a little, we took our Adriatic soaked clothed bodies back to the bar.
“We went skinny dipping!” We said in unison. Grining from ear-to-ear at our exploit.
The others we were with looked at us, slightly confused.
“I thought you two were going back to your hostels,” one had said.
“We were, but then we changed our minds and jumped in the sea. Naked!”
The two of us stayed with everyone for a while longer and then decided it really was time to go home. We had no clue how to get back to the hostel. It had been a long night and we weren’t about to go and wander the streets of Split at an ungodly early morning hour so Annabelle walked back with us.
“Tomorrow,” Shaun said, “Tomorrow Mel and I will meet you at the ferry and we will go to Hvar.”
We parted ways once we were back in the palace area, Shaun turning right and Annabelle and I continuing on our path back to Snooze & Booze. The last I saw of Shaun was her peaking her head out from an alley, smiling and waving goodnight.
The next morning, I awoke thinking last night’s puddle jumping was a dream. Until I felt the throbbing of my ankle as I lay in bed.
I couldn’t let a hurt ankle stop me. It was my very own special battle scar from a night of living at its finest.
So what if my ankle was swollen and I had to take things slower? I was heading to Hvar with new friends. Bound for an island adventure I could have never fathomed.