Welcome to Australia, Renske!

Nature in Australia is what I would call extreme. It’s extremely beautiful, but can be really dangerous as well. The animals extremely cute, but there are also some very horrible ones. I was hoping to avoid any experience with animals of the latter category for as long as possible, but unfortunately that hope painfully ended today.

As some of you may know, I started surfing a couple of months ago. Sydney is the place to be for surfing, with some great surf beaches around. I am lucky to live at a 10 min walk from Maroubra beach (aka the bra), which is a world class surfing beach. Not the easiest for beginners I would say, but fun nonetheless. When I started surfing I got warned for the potential dangers in the water. We all know about sharks, but there are some smaller creatures in the water that won’t bite off your arm but can be very painful nonetheless. One of those is the bluebottle jellyfish. They don’t look like a typical jellyfish, but more like a blue, small sandwich bag filled with air that floats on the water. But this air sac is not the thing to worry about, it’s the long tentacles that are attached to that blue sandwich bag. And today I was the lucky person to get within a not very covid-safe distance of one of these assholes…

The first time I went surfing with my own board.

I was surfing, all nice and fun. The sun was shining, the waves were okay and then Marta, my housemate saw a bluebottle floating around in the water. Everyone here gets stung by them at some point and I was joking whether I shouldn’t just get stung by one, to check that off the list. And then I don’t know what happened, it was quite far when we saw it, but all of a sudden I felt this horrible pain on my legs. I took my leg out of the water and the bluebottle had completely wrapped itself around one of my legs. In my attempt to get rid of it, it somehow managed to also attack my other leg. What a disaster! While in the water, Marta helped me to try and get the tentacles off my leg. Which we managed in the end. Damn this thing hurt!! I stayed in the water for a bit more but then decided to go out because it wasn’t fun anymore. And that’s when the real fun happened…

As soon as I got out of the water, I started to feel strange. My legs were burning like hell and I felt a weird pressure in my chest. I decided to better be safe than sorry and walked up to one of the lifeguards on the beach to explain what happened and what I felt. They immediately sat me down in a beach tent close by and rinsed my legs with water. Than I started to feel worse and worse… I got really bad abdominal and back pain, all the way from my chest down to my groin. I felt like I was about to give birth or something. I would describe the pain like really bad menstrual pain but then much worse and throughout your entire torso. The pressure in the chest also got worse. They put me on oxygen and measured my heart rate and oxygen levels in my blood. They were not how they should be and a bit all over the place. I’ve never felt this terrible in my life. Because of the chest pain, they decided to call an ambulance to check out my heart. Luckily, by the time the ambulance arrived, I already felt a lot better. The pressure in the chest was much less and so was the abdominal pain. My heart was checked anyway, just in case, and luckily all was good. It was quite a scary experience! But I’m happy I now know what it feels like, so in case this happens and there are no lifeguards around, I know that I’m not dying hehe.

Now I’m back home and feel okay. No weird feelings in my chest anymore. The legs though, are still burning as if I decided to step into a campfire. This should get better in the next hours or so. And then I’m just left with some beautiful scars for a few weeks to remind me of this relaxing, Sunday afternoon event. Welcome to the real Australia, Renske!

The scars on one of my legs. You can see exactly where the tentacles attached itself.

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