I was fortunate to have a happy childhood, full of great memories. There is one of those memories, one that surfaces every time I remember those happy days.

Summer vacation had a part where we’d go to the north of the country, mountain area, where both my parents come from. We’d spend a couple of weeks there, with our uncles and cousins, and grandparents. Then we’d get in the car and cross the border. A couple more weeks driving, and camping, around Europe. We went everywhere. At the time, during the 70s and early 80s, it was not as common as nowadays, and it felt extra special to us. We were very aware we were privileged to be able to do that.

Each year we’d go somewhere we’d never visited.

During one of those trips we were driving in the south of France. I would say around Nice, Cannes, but I might be wrong.

There were a lot of beaches on that road. Not sandy beaches as the ones back home, but stony ones, with well polished pebbles. But these didn’t hurt our feet. That fact alone, coming from a country that has so many beaches, was extraordinary. We felt like we were always learning something, every day was an adventure. Beaches with no sand, can you imagine that?

We had a blue Peugeot at the time. The road went through all those beaches. It was hot, and my brother and I would sit on the back, wearing our swimming trunks. Nothing else. The back seat was covered with beach towels.

My father would stop at one of the beaches, we would jump out of the car, run down to the water, dive in, swim, go underwater and pick a pebble that was somehow different than the others, darker, or colored, or striped. We’d throw it back in the water, a few meters away, and dive again looking for it. The water was crystal clear. We always found the little stone.

A few of minutes doing this, and we’d run back to the car, still wet. The towels would absorb part of the water, the wind coming through the open windows would take care of the rest.

My father would drive a little, until we found another beach, and we’d jump out again. My parents are the best!

I don’t know how many beaches we swam in, but my memory likes to think it was over a dozen.

It was a glorious day.