I don’t know how many times I turned onto my stomach to see how far the houses on the shore were, but I was split down the middle on whether I thought I could make it or not. I just couldn’t tell if we we’re making progress. If I thought I was getting closer then maybe I would fight harder and give in later. I thought I had a lot more in me, but the question was “is it going to be enough?” It seemed like we were kicking for forever, but in reality I’m going to guess it was closer to 30 minutes when…“HEY!”
What the hell? Oh my god! Someone’s here! It’s happened! Someone saw us. YES!
I’m not sure if it was immediate or not, but it couldn’t have taken longer than 5 seconds for me to realize that it was the same lifeguard from the night before, the one in Rosarito. His jetski had a rescue sled, so Heath climbed onto the back of his seat and I swam up on the sled and held onto the handles. Here we go.
The ride in was insane. My relief of being pulled out of the water almost instantly turned into fear again when I realized that a jetski loaded with three people in chopped seas was not a sure thing. How do I know how good this guy is? His ski lunged from side to side almost tipping over as he blasted through the waves born from the wind that was now blowing harder than I’d ever seen in my life. What seemed like what should be a 30 second ride took something closer to two minutes. We must have blown further out than I thought. At one point I was aware of how weak I was getting and then I became stricken with this idea that I might fall off the back of the sled and they would never know. Rescued and then lost again.
We slid up to the shallow water and I put my feet down. Holy fucking shit, it’s over, I’m alive. I was instantly swarmed by people who were taking off my lifejacket , my sweatshirt, my button up shirt that was underneath, and my fins. Man, I can’t imagine that whole ordeal without fins. I look up to see Heath coming out of the water and he’s having trouble walking, but then I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Oh my God. He’s still got that damn ipad around his neck. All is NOT lost.
After the lifeguard walked Heath out of the water, he came up to me siting on the sand and said “Are you Jeff?” He wanted me to know that he knew who I was and that he was the one from the day before. A little bit of a zing, but I deserved it a hundred times over. I didn’t know what to say. “Muchas gracias Senor. Lo siento.”
“I’m really so sorry.”
I won’t kill you with all of the details , but Heath and I were thrown into the back of an ambulance after we walked up from the beach shivering uncontrollably from hypothermia. Dying to feel some warmth I asked for a blanket or something. What I got? A piece of cloth the thickness of a bed sheet and the size of a hand towel. Well, better than nothing. We were both mildly convulsing at this point, full body shivers.
We blazed down the highway with the sirens screaming all while they “attempted” to put an IV in to both our arms. I’m assuming just a saline solution, who knows. When we arrived at the hospital we’d gotten ourselves back to a decent temperature so we just agreed to refuse help, which at Rosarito Hospital apparently means to everyone around you, you are now invisible. “Can you at least take this IV out of my hand? Anyone?” Fuck it, I’ll just do it myself.
Heath – “Damn. I guess if you get rescued in the ocean here, they don’t even give you a bottle of water.”
Thinking we’d need to get new passports, we we’re set up with a woman at the hospital who acted as a liaison between us and the American consulate, but it turns out that you don’t need a passport to get back into the country. We were going to need someone to come get us, but between both Heath and I, we only knew one number by heart, our friend Dan Rogers.
“Hey Dan, I can’t talk long, but I need you to find John Santos’ number somewhere and tell him to call us at this numer 011-yadda yadda.”
“Did you guys surf?”
“What! Dude, are you listening?”
“How do I get his number.”
“I don’t know man, use your iphone. Or call your wife, she ‘s better at this stuff” I said. “Well…? Are you busy or something?”
Heath says “I can’t believe the one person who’s number I have memorized is the least likely to help.”
(Turns out Dan didn’t understand what had happened, but still called his wife to get John’s number.)
Through the use of our new caretakers computer I was able to round up my sisters number, give her a ring, and arrange for her to pick Heath and I up at the border. Between that, and a little help from the consulate via a ride to the crossing, we’re set. Remember the scene in The Game where Michael Douglas gets dumped for dead in Mexico and walks back across the border with no ID? That was us. Two beat up white guys with no shoes on, no money, and no ID walking across the border.
“Hi there. ID? No, I don’t have any. I just capsized my boat and was rescued off the coast of Baja. I want to go home now.”