Or how I nearly died.
This is not an easy post to write. At first I couldn’t decide if I even wanted to blog about today, but after having told the story to our families and having let a lot of time go by (this post is back-dated), I have decided that the story was indeed worth telling.
When we woke up today in Batu Karas things were not as they were yesterday. The peaceful beach town was now packed solid with busloads of company employees out on a motivational weekend. Every inch of beach was occupied by different team building exercises and streets were filled with vendors trying to make a buck of off them. Our perfect, quiet beach getaway was no longer.
Over breakfast someone told us about a deserted beach, accessible via a jungle trail. This is where locals went to find some peace and quiet, and it seemed to be the perfect answer for today’s turn of events.
With the explanations as to how to get to the beach vague at best, we ended up first on a tiny beach and then on the tsunami evacuation route. Finally we found the trail behind the mosque, and walked through the jungle and slippery hill to the deserted black sand beach.
The beach was indeed deserted, save for a few grazing cows in the field behind it. On a few occasions there were a couple of people here and there, but they never stayed long. Needless to say: we were very far away from civilization and very far away from help should the need arise.
As you might have guessed by now, things did take a turn for the worse.
Travis went into the sea to swim, while I only went in knee deep. He seemed to be enjoying himself, but I didn’t like the look of the waves. As much as I had fun yesterday playing in the surf, these waves looked stronger. Not being in the best of shapes and not being the strongest swimmer, I didn’t feel comfortable going in for a swim. And I should have listened to myself, and not let myself be convinced that I would be OK going in.
I swam past the breaking waves and it was indeed a load of fun in the water. Travis had said that going back out was harder, so before we got too tired we decided to make our way back to the beach. Unfortunately, the wave set changed and the waves became stronger. They oddly crashed straight down on us, and were at least one over head above me. I got tired, and then I got caught by a wave. Fortunately the bottom was sandy, but when I got back up another wave was already crashing down. The sets had gotten faster, and I could hardly catch a breath before having to dive in.
Travis got to my side and started encouraging me and trying to help me. I was getting really, really drained and could hardly jump and dive through properly anymore. At some point, I really started to think that the best solution would be to float back out past the break and wait for the waves to calm down, or for a fisherman’s boat to come by. But mostly my mind was getting blurred by sheer exhaustion and immense waves crashing on me. I started to cry, then I started to yell. Which is crazy considering that I could hardly breath, but every waves sent me yelling for my life. I was convinced that I was going to die. No one heard us, no one came to help. I got so tired that with each waves Travis had to push me above the water while he stayed down, only to then keep telling me not to quit and to try to swim harder. It felt like it lasted forever, and as though we couldn’t make any progress at all. I don’t know how he did it, nor or how we did it, but eventually we reached the shore.
I was shaking and tired and scared. I lied down on the sand while Travis went to vomit his fear away in the bushes. I then promptly repressed most of what had just happened – I’m not sure how but I got over having just nearly died unhealthily quickly. Travis, on the other hand, was really freaked out.
After a few minutes the wave set changed again, and the sea became ridiculously calm. This had really been back luck, but on the other hand, we had been incredibly lucky. Had I not had Travis with me, who is a really strong swimmer, wouldn’t have made it out. Just as had I listened to myself, I wouldn’t have put myself in this situation in the first place… Regardless, we thanked our lucky stars and left the beach.
Lessons of the day: 1) Don’t go to a deserted beach. 2) Listen to what I say 3) because I am right 😛
Note from the future: Ever since my near drowning experience, Travis hasn’t let me into the ocean without a large dose of paranoia and staying close by.