I wrote an account of the last day my wife and I spent in Mexico. Please share our story with friends and family who visit Cabo, and anyone else who enjoys the ocean.
Lindee and I marked our 12-year anniversary earlier this month. We decided to celebrate with a trip to Cabo San Lucas for eight days of rest and relaxation, leaving four-year-old Jameson and our 15-month-old twins, Leyton and Coulter, in the care of our wonderful nanny Elle. It was our fourth trip to Cabo in 10 years and we were excited to get back.
From the day we arrived, we were told by locals – including our concierge at Hacienda Del Mar – that we should make the “once in a lifetime” excursion under the Arch. Apparently, every four to five years sand is dredged up to the beach surrounding El Arco de Cabo San Lucas. As a result of the accumulated sand, a path opens up for a few weeks to a small beach known as Lands End. The Arch is a mammoth rock formation at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas, which is itself the extreme southern end of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It is here that the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Intrigued, we took a water taxi over and watched dozens of people go to and from this beach hidden from view. It was high tide and the waves were coming in pretty close, so we opted to come back the following day (Friday the 13th) at low tide.
On Friday, we left our resort on the first shuttle into town and hopped a water taxi over to Lover’s Beach. We were traveling light and our boat captain suggested we pick up a couple cervezas at the marina market. In hindsight, we should have picked up some life preservers and helmets. The ride over to the secluded beach took about 10 minutes and the taxi dropped us off in waist-deep water. We ran up to the sandy coast and made our way over to Divorce Beach, which is on the Pacific side of the Peninsula. We passed a half dozen signs that warned of rip currents and let us know swimming was not permitted. Lindee and I are both strong swimmers but neither of us would have ever considered going in this water. We causiously stood back and watched sets roll in for about 15 minutes. The surf break and tide was much lower than the day before. The path was wide so we grabbed our stuff and excitedly took off for the legendary Lands End beach.
It was around 10:15 AM when Lindee and I were hit by a rogue wave off the Pacific coast side of Lover’s/Divorce Beach. We were running in front of a cliff along a narrow stretch of sand when we were swept from our feet, sucked into a violent rip current and then hurled back into a barnacle–encrusted rock face. The sand bridge vanished and we were suddenly engulfed by turbulent water with 20 yards in either direction between us and dry land. We had steep, jagged rocks at our back and a raging ocean advancing on us. Buried nearly to our knees in sand, we were immobile, helpless and surrounded by hundreds of black crabs when an eight-footer crashed in and swallowed us whole. It was like a locomotive hammering us into the ground. Lindee’s cries were the only thing I could hear over the deafening surf. She was dragged downward and nearly torn from my arms by the retreating currents. The anchor-like bag on her shoulder snapped at the strap, releasing the two giant water-logged beach towels and other contents. The violent separation allowed us to pull back a few feet and squeeze ourselves into a dark shell covered crevice. I looked up to see the largest wave I’d ever seen – at least 15 feet high – towering above us. Lindee felt like the mouth of the Pacific was opening up and closing down to eat us. It slammed into us and we were submerged for what seemed like an eternity. Our bodies were tossed around and eventually yanked part of the way out from the pathetic refuge, releasing our legs enough from the quicksand as if the ocean was saying “this is your last chance.” Roughly fifteen yards stood between us and higher ground when adrenaline ultimately overpowered our exhaustion and fear. It was clear we were going to die there unless we moved quickly. Injured and fatigued, we seized the opportunity to push and claw our way around the rocks. We trudged through the clinging sand as the next monster crashed and hurled us up onto the uninhabited beach at Lands End.
The surf then receded as if nothing had happened, yet the evidence was everywhere – our belongings littering the arealike debris from a shipwreck. Fear finally gave way to joy that we had survived the assault, but Lindee was hurt and wouldn’t consider going back the way we arrived. A mere five minutes after our harrowing escape, four other travelers rounded the corner with no more than a splash to show for their trip. We asked if they would take a photo of us standing under the Arch and email it to us.
Stopping to watch our possessions slowly recede into the distance, we embraced once again, thankful we had never let go of one another. My iPhone4, our Canon camera...pretty much all of our belongings were obliterated and taken to the bottom of the ocean. We recovered a sunglasses case, two shredded beer cans and our sunscreen. A woman from a passing boat 50 yards from shore retrieved my orphaned Rainbow sandal.
A wave runner illegally picked us up off the Sea of Cortez side of the protected beach. On the 10 minute ride back to the harbor, our rescuer told us about a couple drowning in that same spot three days earlier. I’m sore and bruised, with minor scrapes and cuts, but Lindee really took a beating. She shredded her left leg and her feet have deep, gnarly gashes that required two trips to the doctor’s office. We caught a flight home the very next day.
A friend of ours recently told us that Pacific means peace. I believe something was lost in translation.
Hang on to your loved ones!
Will & Lindee Shaw
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