... when I was three or four years old and making my first trip to Barranquilla, my grandfather had led me by the hand across that burning wasteland, ... and then, without warning, we found ourselves facing a vast extension of green water belching foam, where an entire world of drowned chickens lay floating.
"It's the ocean," he said.
Disenchanted, I asked him what was on the other shore, and without a moment's hesitation he answered:
"There is no shore on the other side."
Today, after seeing so many oceans front and back, I still think that was one of his great responses. In any case, none of my earlier images of the ocean corresponded to that sordid mass of water with its nitrate-encrusted beach where the tangled branches of rotting mangroves and sharp fragments of shell made it impossible to walk. It was horrible.
A View of the Sea
I have a romantic view of the sea. I was reminded of that not very unusual fact just now, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's memoir, Living to Tell the Tale: