On our first day out and about, we went to a beach called Balandra Beach. It is a lovely, wide, shallow bay, about a half hour north of La Paz. There was supposed to be some snorkeling available, so off we went.
Gorgeous aquamarine colored water, wide white beaches, it was indeed lovely. There was even one umbrella left! I snagged it, telling Ken we would likely have to pay for it. He poo-poohed that notion, and went off to explore. I got all set up, upon which, a gentleman came up and asked me if I had paid for the umbrella. Nope. Told him I would have to wait for my husband, who had the money, and that we didn't need the chairs and table, as the price was steep. He brought another solo umbrella ($10!) and set it up. Naturally, my exceedingly mild distress at all of this was offset by the joy of being right. Hee!
So once Ken came back, paid for the umbrella, and we set off to snorkel. Ken had asked another fellow where the snorkeling was, and he'd pointed to two very specific areas across the bay. Off we went.
Well. That bay was a bit wider than it looked, and this was our inaugural swim to see if I was even capable of snorkeling, post-incident. Most (all) of my health care providers had expressed great concern and misgivings about said activity when combined with all my vertigo. So we thought we'd test it in shallow water.
(Again, foolhardy I may be, but stupid, I hope not. Hoped. As this story will illustrate, stupid might be an accurate word for not just me, but the both of us.)
Put on mask and snorkel, and my lovely Force Fins (special fins that give one super-human powers), and off we went. Rapidly, I discovered a couple of things: Yes, it is very disorienting. The play of light along the bottom, combined with the ripples in the sand makes for a bit of the dizzy.
But even worse was the fact that while it's always hard to swim straight when you are snorkeling, as one's gyro-directional whatevers don't work as well. In the condition my condition is in, I trend a hard right all of the time. So unless I wanted to swim in circles all day, I had to quickly make a habit of focusing very closely on those rippled lines in the sand below me, and navigate that way. Which is dizzy-making, but whatever. A little navigational problem is not enough to keep me from snorkeling, which is my Happy Place.
So we adjusted, and set off. I then forgot two important things: Force fins are far more powerful, and I am a stronger swimmer than Ken. We'd agreed to meet at a spot on the beach opposite, and I was most of the way there when I came up again, it was shallow enough to stand again, and looked around. No Ken. No sign of Ken. I called and called, no Ken. I began to freak out. Got closer to beach, asked a couple of kyakers. They'd not seen him. Clearly, he had drowned. Not only drowned, but he had the car keys!
After what seemed forever, he came gasping in. He'd been totally freaked for about 10-15 minutes, sure that I had drowned, since he couldn't find me. He was close to hypothermic, having all 2 ounces of body fat that he does. We hid in the shelter of a rock, trying to get him warmed up. The sun was warm, but there was a bit of a breeze, and he was very, very cold.
We decided to be smarter on the way back, and go around the edge of the bay. Until we hit a bunch of rocks, which I promptly sliced up one toe on. (No stitches necessary, however.)
So we thought he should walk back across the shallowest part of the bay, and I would try one of the snorkeling areas. (The first had been by where we sheltered and etc, but it seemed imprudent to have me lark off while he was recovering from slight hypothermia, and go swimming alone, again.)
You will note that our new solution featured us splitting up again. Let's hear it for the stupid, shall we? Long story short, he found the shallow walking involved a bunch of swimming, so he hiked around most of the outside again, swam a bit, and I, having snorkeled along the (not at all good) snorkeling area, got back far earlier than he did, and thought once again, that he had drowned.
I asked the folks sitting next to us if they had seen him, and they smiled and said yes, pointing towards the parking lot. I was hugely relieved, and went to find him. No sign of him. I came back and looked, and his flippers and mask were still gone. He wasn't back, and it had been far too long. I'd forgotten another important thing: in Mexico, when they don't understand you, they just smile and nod. And if they do understand you, they sometimes just tell you what they think you want to hear. Clearly I was very distressed about my esposo, so she told me what I wanted to hear. I ran back to the parking lot again, and no Ken, but I did find him on the way back.
We both got out alive, but note to selves: don't split up when you are traveling in foreign countries, and one of you doesn't speak the language. Plus, don't split up when you're swimming. Duh.
So we're fine and dandy, but have been in guided snorkeling situations ever since. Which is probably for the best.
Note: Having been gone on our extended adventures for most of the afternoon, we never used the umbrella. So I lost my rights of being correct as well. Toppled off the Throne of Correctness; a steep price to pay...
But on a positive note: when it comes to the vertigo? One great thing about having it in the water is that there's nowhere to fall. So that's a huge bonus. Apparently I now need to move to a beach in the tropics. There's a price I might be willing to pay! I'll miss you all, but you can come visit.