Written 9 March 2001
After lunch we (my sister, my mother, and I) went to the Tower of the Virgin, a fairly short tower on the seaside where several children had had visions of the Virgin Mary some hundreds of years earlier. The weather was blustery but our guide assured us that this was normal weather for the area and there would be nothing gained by waiting for it to clear up, so we made our way to it.
The tower was shorter than I expected, only a bit taller than it was wide. The entrance was on the side away from the sea. We went in and started up the winding stairs. We passed the entrances to various rooms containing relics of the visitation, but we felt an odd compulsion to make it to the top of the tower before doing any investigation of them.
At the top of the tower there were a bunch of people, men and women in their thirties and forties mostly, sitting around in chairs and chatting. It was still windy, but the sky had cleared, and it was actually fairly pleasant. We sat down and relaxed.
After a short while the guide nudged me and pointed out towards the sea. A truly gargantuan wave was coming in--it broke over the top of the tower, soaking us to the knees. I was impressed. "Big wave!" I said to the guide. "Oh, that's nothing," he assured me, "we get bigger all the time." "When I'm on top of a fifty-foot tower, any wave that gets me wet I consider big," I replied. He shrugged, indicating that maybe I had a point, when an even larger wave hit.
I was lifted off my feet and immersed in roiling water. I quickly reached down and grabbed my coat, irrationally concerned that I might lose my camera.
Supposedly you can hold your breath for forty-five seconds before you have to breathe again. I started to count. After ten seconds I realized I was being an idiot and let go of my coat. I felt someone--my mother as it turned out--grab my leg and together we struggled for the surface.
Once the wave had gone out again we discovered that the entire tower had been destroyed. Perhaps it was divine displeasure at the uses this site of holy intervention had been put to--rumor had it that it was one of the spots lovers often used for assignations. But everyone in my family, though perhaps not in a state of grace, was all right, and for that we were grateful.