Before going to Hawaii we had heard all about sharks and venomous centipedes, but we didn’t see hide nor hair of either. The true dangers for mainlanders are the sun and the waves. I could attest to both, but a sunburn doesn’t count for almost dying, so I’ll stick to the undertow.
This first near death experience happened at Magic Sands Beach in Kailua-Kona. This beach has some pretty good waves and the boogie boarding is a lot of fun. Juan, who likes to say he doesn’t know how to swim, walked out in the water about ankle deep and huge wave promptly rolled in and smacked him in the back. It swept his glasses right off his face and sucked them into the ocean. It was a long shot that we would ever find them again but we gave it a good effort. This was day three of a fourteen day vacation. Not only did I not want to lead him around by the hand and do all the driving for the next 11 days, I didn’t want him to miss all the beautiful sights. I started googling glasses stores in Kona. By an act of God, the life guard announced that a pair of glasses had been found. There are no words to express my gratitude.
So, at this point, Not Able to Swim Jaun seemed invincible. He grabbed his boogie board (left the glasses on the beach) and ran into the waves. He always says he hates the beach, but I think what he really means is he hates the sand. He seems to love the water. It was really fun watching him dive under the waves and ride them back in. However…
Miriam and I were sitting on the beach relaxing when she grabbed my arm and said “Popi is in trouble. Do SOMETHING!” He was too far out to see his expression but something about his body language was wrong. He was all alone out there, just sort of bobbing up and down. I wasn’t sure what to do. He wasn’t really drowning, just floating off to sea. Apparently he had gone under a wave and when he came out the other side, the undertow had pulled him out beyond all the other swimmers. With each wave it was sucking him further out to sea and he couldn’t kick hard enough to over power that force. I was just about to run up the the lifeguard tower and ask them to go get him when I saw a guy swim out to him. It seems Juan had called out to this swimmer and asked him to kindly come over and help push him back in. Thankfully the Aloha spirit is a real thing. The guy happily came over and together they kicked in on the boogie board.
Not long after that, the lifeguards packed up for the day. One of them made a long announcement on the megaphone about how not to die at Magic Sands. He wrapped it up with: “but if you do die, we are on the 911 system. Please call them and tell them your location is Magic Sands.”