Several years ago, I made a trip with a friend through Máncora (Perú) and Montañita (Ecuador). We went by bus from Santiago of Chile, which made it epic and exhausting at the same time. It was an incredible trip, but one afternoon shortly before sunset, I was with a friend I met there talking on the beach when another friend gestured that it was time to go. Previously I had been playing in the sea and I felt that the current was very strong, but finally, I had no big problems getting out after some small effort.
When we finally decide to get out of the water, we walked out when I heared screams from 3 people next to us asking for help. I didn’t think twice and went in the sea with the intention of taking this person out. At that time I had no knowledge about the sea or how the current worked, which would have been very convenient at the time. I went in without evaluating too much, very impulsive. Upon arrival, I realized this person was a man over 60 years old, quite fat. Since I knew that people get desperate and sometimes even try to drown you, I spoke to him from meters away, and I took it with one arm, while I swam backwards with my two legs and the arm I had left. The first thing was that he didn’t do any kind of help. I was swimming with only one arm and I felt that I was moving very little but without looking back I kept swimming. I could hear what the people outside of the water was screaming, comments like “keep it up, you are getting closer, keep going!” so I was motivated to continue. After a few minutes, I started to feel very tired. As I knew I had to be smart about the effort, I stopped, I looked back and I realized we were still very far away. Obviously keep going on would not contribute to anything other than exhausting me and finally dying.
The man was leaning on me to float, but after a while, the weight began to be very exhausting, so I had to ask him to release me in order to float and rest for some little seconds. When I did this, the man automatically turned around and started to sink, so I had to take him again and turn him around. Still, it was a relief, so every so often we had to do this so I could get some rest. From the beginning, I told him, “We are going to get out of this one, we are going to get out, keep calm” and although I continued doing so, there were no coherent options that could save us. I remember that at some point the idea of going out with the help of a turtle crossed my mind. I knew it was illogical, but in that situation, he seemed the only option in my head. It was the hope I was holding on.
There came a moment, when there was no way out in my head, if we remain there, we were both going to drown and die. I looked at the shore, I remember I felt that I had a 70% chance of going out swimming and saving only myself, but I knew that death was a possibility, but staying there seemed to be like choosing to die. At the time more than half an hour had passed and it was getting dark. We were very far from the main beach, so there wasn’t many people around. I remember the moment when I decided I wasn’t going to leave him there by himself. I remember with frustration my choice. I chose to stay there knowing that I was going to die, but I couldn’t leave him there by himself.
He kept saying, “We will get out, we will get out, don’t worry” but in my head, I didn’t have any options. My doubts start coming across in my head as I thought about how to get out. The turtle was still the most logical option available.
While I was there like waiting for the miracle, it finally came when I heard “a boat is coming, hold on a little longer, a boat is coming.” He did not listen, so I repeated it to him. A few minutes passed and a longboat appeared. Two people jump from the boat into the water, and I was finally able to take off that weight from me. I was barely able to get on the boat, and being inside I tried to help but I had no strength. I remember that the boat was full of dead fishes all over it. It was difficult to step on without touching one of them. My arms were dead, I had no strength, and I was not able to contribute at all. The man was too heavy and we were not able to get the man on the boat.
In that, the boat driver yells “Let’s go deeper, here the waves break and a big one is coming.”
The two men who jumped before got on the boat, and among the three of us, we held the man from outside the boat as we went further inside the sea. In spite of the uncomfortable position outside the boat, he was shouting “thank you very much, you saved my life, you saved my life, thank you very much.”
When we got into the right position, one of the men went down while the two of us on the boat raised the man inside. At this point my arms responded a little more and there was no problem getting him into the boat. After that, we finally went outside while the man kept shouting thanking us for saving his life. Upon touching land, I got out of the boat, extremely tired, so much that the fatigue continued for several hours afterward. When I left, a lot of people were around, watching as an ambulance gave assistance and finally took him away.
I never knew his name, even if he recovered well, but at least I knew he wasn’t dead.
An absurd decision, totally irrational, that led me to get really close to death. But that, at least, it prevented a family’s vacation from being completely ruined.