Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jindo Miracle Sea Festival

The question is: was it worth going to the Jindo Miracle Sea Festival?
Actually, the question is: What is this festival, anyway? And what are they wearing? And what time is it???
Was it worth traveling from Changwon to Gwangju (3 hours) and then Gwangju to Jindo (2 hours) on a rainy day without time for a proper meal?

Was it worth actually missing the scheduled bus to Jindo and having to wait an hour for the next one, moving our arrival time to even later on a cold, drizzly evening?

Was it worth joining a pension (a rented house) with over thirty other people crammed so full that there was nowhere to sleep but the ground?

Was it worth staying up all night and not sleeping at all because we had to leave for the sea-parting ceremony at three in the morning? Or missing the first caravan and consequently actually leaving at four?

Was it worth arriving at the beach, having just missed the fireworks, to find hundreds of people carrying torches, already returning from the sea-crossing since the tide didn't go down low enough to make it to the other side?

Was it worth standing around in the dark, damp morning, waiting for the sun to rise, but not even seeing it due to the fog?

Was it worth waiting in the cold for a taxi to take me back to Jindo, then a bus to take me back to Gwangju, then another bus to take me back to Changwon, during which rides all I slept more soundly than I have for about a week?

Hm... 모르는것 같아...?

No, just kidding. The answer is: YES. It was totally worth it.

It was worth traveling for five hours in poor weather because I've sorely needed to get out of my city for a while. It was worth missing the first bus to Jindo, because I ran into other Fulbrighters at the terminal -- we missed the bus together -- and got to know them much better. It was worth being packed into the pension because it was full of new friends and old, and we ate, joked, played music, caught up on old times, and simply had a great party all night. It was worth not sleeping because instead, I played some fun games and took a walk outside and felt just a little bit like I was in college again, forgoing sleep for the sake of making memories. Even missing the first caravan was no big deal since it gave us more time to sleep and/or eat breakfast.

It was worth getting to the beach after everyone had ventured out into the water because the sight of the crossing from afar, with torches flickering and people wading around in knee-high water was breathtaing. It was worth waiting around for the sunrise, because we found a beach and seashells! It was worth all the travel and trouble because in the end, I just spent a weird and wonderful weekend with people that I like and love. I got to know a bunch of the first-year Fulbright teachers a lot better, and I also technically crossed something off of my Korea bucket list. The sea-parting may have disappointed, but literally everything else about this past weekend was great and totally worthwhile.

So here are some photos: 
Monica and me, who barely made it into the water before the "Miracle Sea Road" closed again. Taken by Neal.
Fulbrighters as excited as humanly possible at 5:30am on a cold and rainy beach!
So I like fire. Taken by Neal.
I also found Moses! Just before he got into a car and ran away. 
Emerging from the sea...
Later, we went to a sand beach and went in as far as our waders would let us. It was fun! Modo, our would-be destination earlier that morning, is behind us.

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