Jumping from a cliff into the sea on the coast of the Cinque Terre


noun /ˈərCHən/

1. A mischievous young child, especially one who is raggedly dressed.

2. A spiny sea-creature.


1. We showered very little while traveling, but swam as often as we could: in crystalline lakes of ice-melt, and in muddy, milky blue ponds where the water ran off from the vineyards, and we swam a lot in the ocean, where the waters stung my nose like salt-and-vinegar chips. So far, we had avoided the plagues of jellyfish, but I still felt a jangling tingle in my nerve-endings moments before jumping into virgin waters. There is something so thrilling about swimming in the wild.

The best spots are those secluded ones, where rock walls hem in the sides, and where the waters are calm, revealing their depth. Oliver discovered one such place on the coast of the Cinque Terre, and we spent an afternoon leaping from the rocks, aiming for the deepest section of the sea below. 

2. Clambering out of the ocean, grasping for handholds between slippery rocks and seaweed, my fingers found something prickly. I pulled back with a twinge, but the damage had been done: three small spines rested in the soft bed of my thumb-pad. 

That night, my thumb had a heartbeat. 

I googled 'sea-urchin,' and searched for any type of advice pertaining to my injury. I found stories of Thai remedies that involve smacking large spines into the skin before dissolving them with vinegar. I felt a little better about my predicament after that, and resolved to rub antibiotic ointment on my thumb every ten minutes.

It took three days to settle. 

Cliff jumping into the sea of the Cinque Terre
Walking on cliffs by the sea
Swimming in the sea in Italy's Cinque Terre
Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.