Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra
Jones from Pixabay
seventy years ago, the time of this true story, Brighton Beach was a
continuation of Durban Beach, but on the other side of a Bluff
peninsular, South Africa. Geographically, it still is, although its
name could be different nowadays. In those days, my home was only a
few miles away. Nowadays, I live in another country; haven't been to
Brighton Beach in over seventy years.
Beach was not popular with beach-goers because there were unfriendly
rock formations at the ocean's edge. The formations stretched
shoreward. The shore itself was only few steps wide up to a steep
hillside covered with high most unfriendly bush that was home to
angry stinging insects, flying and other.
high tide, the ocean completely and treacherously submerged the
rocks, while the ocean waves reached to the foot of the hillside
bush. The shore was impassable by pedestrians.
any other tide, the waves crashed mercilessly, deafeningly and
spitefully against the rocks, creating a searingly blinding spray.
The sight was spectacularly entertaining to pedestrians who had a
stretch of dry shoreline from which to safely observe the ocean's
gratuitous malevolent violence.
lived about two hours walking distance along the beach from Brighton
Beach. We lived there for about twenty years. In all those years we
did not observe anyone else who had discovered the treasure and the
secret of the Brighton Beach rocks.
treasure was the fish that got flung into the rock pools. We endured
the violence of the crashing waves in order to catch, by hand, the
trapped fish. It was dangerous, and not easy. The wet rocks were
slippery, equally to bare feet and footwear. We suffered bruises and
cuts when we lost balance.
were assaulted by the waves, and treacherously undermined by ocean
backdrafts. There is no successful protection against injury in an
ocean backdraft on a slippery rock surface with sharp-edged holes
everywhere. Too frequently the injuries brought an end to our fishing
for that session. Quite frequently we went home, sore somewhere on
ourselves, and with no fish catch.
secret of the rocks gave us more excitement than the rock fishing.
one low-tide, we dared to explore the ocean side of the rock ridge in
search of fish holes against the vertical face of the rock ridge.
The high ridge extended for a few hundred steps along the shore.
Retrieving trapped fish in a hole in the face of the ridge would be
easier and safer.
did not find a fish hole. Instead, we discovered that a few feet
underwater there were holes in the rock that gave access to a
vertical hollow inside the rock ridge. We submerged and entered the
hollow. As the tide came in, we were lifted up inside the vertical
rock hollow by the incoming water. Inside the rock, we could wade
along for a short distance.
weekends, luxury pleasure cruise boats sailed up and down the south
coast of the Province of Natal. On board there was music, dancing,
gambling, and who-knows-what-else. From inside our hole-in-the-rock,
we had a ringside seat to the open-deck entertainments.
weekend afternoons, we watched, for free, motorboat water skiing
competitions, and motor boat racing.
our viewing entertainment was possible only at high tide. At low
tide, violent waves smashing against the rock face, made watching
uncomfortable. Sometimes fish would come into the vertical hollow
with the water. We found it impossible to catch those fish swimming
against us. The confined quarters made continual bumping against
swimming fish unavoidable. Nowadays, in retrospect, I shudder at the
thought of a predator joining us in that vertical hole. A shark, an
eel, a blue bottle.
our holes in the rock ridge we saw large ships pass in the far
those few short years we enjoyed viewing entertainment from inside
those rocks, only once was the entertainment from the shore behind
became experts in knowing when the tide was changing. When full tide
was going out, we would exit the rock holes with the tide. We would
enter the holes when full tide was coming in. Of course, we had to
engage in subterfuge in order to avoid detection by anyone seeing us.
would enter the ocean far away from the underwater holes. We would
pretend to be casual swimming about before eventually surreptitiously
submerging and swimming underwater to our spot. When we left the
rocks, we took similar precautions to deviously surface and come
ashore far away. It never failed us. We were never challenged by
anyone. Most times, there was nobody on that section of the beach. We
never took chances.
one time our entertainment came from the shore, caused us so much
discomfort, we became more cautious about how long we stayed in the
rock holes. We visited less frequently.
was a Sunday. To view the water sports on the ocean, we brought food
and water. We had fun for hours. High tide co-operated. It stayed
with us for an unusually long time. It was late afternoon when the
tide started receding. We prepared to leave. We heard the commotion
coming from the beach behind us.
were no holes in the rock that gave us a view of the shore. We had to
swim underwater away from the access hole to surface to see the
shore. We decided one of us would do that. He came back in a hurry.
was some kind of armed battle going on among people on shore, all of
whom were fully dressed. We dared not go ashore. We went back, and
remained in the rock. We heard the sounds and cries and shouts from
the battle on shore.
full tide went out. Evening was taking over. The violent waves were
starting. We had to vacate the hole, or, probably, drown. The moon
came out. We did not know if moonlight was good or bad in our
situation. We had no safe choice. We took the chance.
swam underwater in the direction we would take going home when we
surfaced. When we reached the end of the rocks, we continued swimming
silently and slowly in deep ocean water. That's when we were thankful
for the moonlight.
was no more shoreline to guide us, but the malevolently dark forest
on the Bluff was a sight for sore eyes. We continued swimming
parallel with that evil-looking thing of a forest, edging closer and
closer to it as we went along. When we saw the southern tip of Durban
Bay shore come into view, we were relieved. It was like seeing the
returning Messiah. We knew we were not out of danger yet. Durban Bay
has from forever been world notorious for the frequency of shark
attacks on persons.
was late at night when we arrived home, severely exhausted. It was
many weeks before we visited Brighton Beach again.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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