My immediate thought, when I saw that the subject for this weeks photo challenge was ‘Ocean’, was of an early scene in Woody Allen’s movie ‘Radio Days’ of the hero’s parents arguing about which was the greater Ocean, the Atlantic or the Pacific

‘No,  have it your way, the Pacific is greater.’

But that’s not really brought to mind any ‘relevant’ photos, not that relevance or lack thereof will always stop me.

I do remember seeing the Pacific for the first time. My family were living in St Louis, Mo and we did a road trip to Los Angeles.

By then, having driven, in a collection of trips, from coast to coast of the USA from Maryland to California, and before that having sailed across the Atlantic on The Queen Mary, I had an understanding of how far I was from Britain.

So when my father told me I had to get my feet wet in Pacific water I almost got why it was important.  My journey there had been an unlikely as any, but, perhaps it was then that I developed my itchy feet and the desire to travel.

Jazz hands in the Pacific. I loved that bikini with the white skirt.

I had seen Oceans and large expanses of water before I landed up on that LA beach.  The water may have been colder and the beach a rubble of rocks and pebbles, but I had seen the horizon as a far off line against a flat seascape before.

What is it like to experience that expanse of sky and water for the first time as an adult, rather than to take it for granted as something that is always there?

A few years ago, on a trekking trip in Nepal I met the doctor who runs Kunde Hospital.

It’s a tiny medical centre high in the Kumbu and it serves the local Sherpa population as well as any trekkers who require emergency assistance.  The team are expert in the treatment of altitude sickness and frostbite.

Kami Temba Sherpa had worked for a number of years as the local paramedic, until he was supported by the Edmund Hillary Foundation to study to qualify as a doctor.  He chose to study at the medical school at the University of Fiji.

I have forgotten his explanation of why he selected that particular institution, but I do recall his answer when I asked him what did he think when he saw the Ocean and beach off the island.

He had never seen so much water, and he knew immediately that his priority was to learn to swim, as otherwise he would have no social life there.  As well as being the first Sherpa doctor, he believed he was the first Sherpa to swim in the Pacific.

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  1. brendan stallard

     /  March 27, 2011


    Having spent a lot of my life looking at the ugly green, mucky looking Atlantic, I think the Pacific is quite something else.

    It _is_ cold, even if you expect it. I recall Kayaking up off Seattle and rolling the boat was head-achingly chilly.

    Even down off Mendocino, far further south, it’s still hard to swim in.

    I love the blue of the “other” side of the Florida seaboard, that blue is magical.


    • I’ve never been to Florida – but the bluest sea I’ve ever seen was the Gulf of Mexico off Tulum. You’re right, there is magic in that deep blue.


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