Imagine a sleepy and charming beach town on a tiny sliver of peninsula emerging from the southeast coast of Belize. Here Nitin and I woke up to a stunning yellow sunrise over the calm waters and for as far as you could see into the infinity, there was only the blue of the sea and the sky. We ate a skimpy breakfast in a rush, tossed our bag-pack on the beach chairs and pulled out a tandem Kayak to enjoy the azure Caribbean water. As always, I was over-enthusiastic – Yahoooo!!! We are going to Kayak, baby!
We had begun on the right foot, quite literally. We had managed to sit in the Kayak without turning it upside down, marking our first success of the trip already. An island far away from the hotel was visible on that crisp morning, and in that moment of exhilaration, it felt easily attainable. We decided to kayak there, ignoring the Caribbean breeze that was starting to pick up. Left right, left right, left right we kept paddling towards our mission… the mystical, mysterious island.
As time went by, the wind got stronger, waves got bigger and our hearts started pounding even faster. Our Kayak glided up and down with the gigantic waves creating a roller-coaster effect. We were scared but we covered our fear by celebrating how close we were to the island. Before we knew it, we had arrived what appeared to be an enormous isolated island of Mangroves. The water surrounding it was so shallow and crystal clear that we could see the rock-sized stones beneath us. We felt giddy with excitement on having made it. We did a couple of hi-five with our paddles, took a few selfies and videos using our water camera. But our cheerfulness was short-lived. The wind-gods over-powered us and they were fierce. Our kayak was jolted several times and thrown against the Mangroves. We were not overturned, yet, but we were drowning in water as the monstrous waves continued to crash into our faces.
We frantically began to kayak back towards the hotel, but the wind kept pushing us backwards. Boom, crash, splash, the Caribbean wind and waves had shown their true colors. We were paddling really really hard but were moving at a snail’s pace. After two hours of having left the mangrove island, we became famished and tired. We had no food or water, sun was growing hot overhead, salty water was burning our skin and the wind was withering our not-so-strong arms. We hardly seemed to be getting anywhere. Our mental and physical strength was waning.
We were exhausted and worried – What if our bag-packs got stolen from the beach? What if we never made it back? We were starting to lose hope, existential questions started coming to mind, not just of food and water but about family, life and death, what had we accomplished so far in our lives. Our fear and nervousness slowed us down even further. There was not a single soul around us in the sea to whom we could send our SoS call. What if they don’t find us, ever? With this intolerable thought, we managed to find some more strength and synchrony. Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and it will promisingly lead to a rewarding experience.
It dawned on us that we didn’t have to make it back to the hotel, we simply had to make it to the mainland, so if we kept rowing sideways along side the wind, we would touch eventually touch the mainland some where and from there we would figure it out. Once we had this strategy, there was a renewed sense of purpose and energy, a silver lining in the sky. Although we were in the unplanned third hour of testing adventure, we propelled very mechanically, ignoring all the blisters, sunburn and body aches. There was a fresh determination to reach the mainland by hook or by crook.
We were so focused on the rowing that we barely noticed when we hit the beach. I shrieked with elation of having made it alive. We jumped out on the sand and did a little happy dance. As we ate a much deserved fruit plate and drank a cool pinã-colada, we recounted all the events in the last few hours. We sat and laughed at the wide-ranging emotions we had experienced in the middle of the sea. We had gone from enjoying the serene peaceful waters, to counting our last minutes on earth to this haven of a beach and fruit plate in a matter of just 3 hours.
We had drifted quite far away from the hotel, later we calculated it was about 5 miles. After a nice long break, we resumed kayaking from this unknown beach back to our hotel by keeping close to the land, which was less windy and felt safer.
The fatigue of previous 3 hours didn’t bother anymore as we had found renewed confidence in our abilities. We had not only proven to be a successful team but had also corrected our poor past records forever.
At the hotel, we found our bags in tact. We wanted to tell everyone on the beach who was sun-bathing and enjoying that pretentiously innocent Caribbean breeze that we had just gotten a little carried away.