How I Almost Died in Cuba

How I Almost Died in Cuba

I would like to start off by saying that I am fully aware of my stupidity related to the events that I am about to describe to you. I travel a lot. I am usually alone or with one other friend, and I typically go to foreign countries. With that being said I am always careful and keep my guard up. Never has anything like this ever happened before, nor will it ever (I hope).  Okay, now with the disclaimer out of the way let’s get to it.

I graduated from college this past spring and it honestly felt like the greatest accomplishment of my life! I did it. Hours of studying, writing, and ugly face crying into my laptop at two in the morning had finally paid off. Now, I was going to graduate. When my family began to ask me what I would like as a gift, in pure Chantel fashion, I wanted to take a trip.

Had I been wise I would have started planning this trip at the beginning of senior year and saved up to go to Asia, but with graduation being only a few months out I decided I wanted to go to Cuba! Because Americans don’t just get to go to Cuba and everybody’s been to Mexico. After a lot of research to see how we could get over there we managed to book all the arrangements and it was set. #cuba2017


 So, I walked across that stage, shook some random man's hand saying thank you for all the new wrinkles, weight gain, and piles of debt, but now I’m off to Cuba.

Once there we decided to spend one full day relaxing at the beach. My aunt, grandma Elsa, and friend Jennifer, who also graduated from the same program, were all there. We were so amazed that we were in Cuba. Jen and I had our beach chairs nicely set with our magazines and drinks laid out just right. You know how you do when you go to the beach trying to be cute with your sunglass and beach dress. As I am reading that month’s issue of the Magnolia Journal and just crying over the raw emotion of one of the articles I hear whoooahhh and boom. Jen and I look up and there are two older ladies at the shoreline just tumbling and being tossed by the waves. All I see are arms and legs and the bottoms of a navy blue swimsuit sticking straight up in the air.

The waves were just a little rough.

The ladies were fine, but it took everything in me not to bust out laughing. All my aunt could say was “oh nah uh, I don’t know who told them to be getting in that water like that hahaha.” Maybe twenty mins go by and I look over at Jen.

“Jen, we should go in the water. We’re in Cuba.”

“Okay, but we need to find a different spot.”

“Yes, let’s not get swept up like the bopsie twins over there. Let’s look further down the beach.”

“Okay- but wait. I need to put on some more sunscreen.”

 So off Jen and I went in search of calmer seas for us to dip our toes into the waters of Cuba. My aunt and grandma stayed behind to watch our things. As Jen and I walked down the beach we saw an area where there were plenty of people wading in the water and there was a sandbar.

“Jen, look! We can get in there.”

I believe this is the exact moment my common sense betrayed me and stayed behind with the magazines and coconut water. As we began to step into the water this cute random guy came over to us to 'help' us get to the sandbar and held out his hand. Now, remember my common sense is back in my beach chair enjoying the writing styles of Joanna Gains. I proceeded to grab his hand and started making my way further into the water.

As I attempted to doggie paddle my way to the sandbar with two feet, one arm, and Jen somewhere behind me the waves started to take on a life of their own becoming stronger and stronger. With each wave, I was getting knocked over, but I could still feel the sand beneath my feet. Cuban Posiden kept pointing down into the water telling me to go under every time a wave came so I wouldn’t get knocked out- Thanks Posiden, I couldn’t have figured that out without you. After what felt like an eternity, and the most cardio I’d done in my life, we made it to the sandbar.

Friends, I wish this is where it ended. With my hand still in his Mermaid Man continues to wade out into the ocean bringing me along with him. I am now attempting to doggie paddle just to keep my head above the water when he stopped and started talking to me. Calmly talking as if we were sitting at a coffee shop, sipping cappuccinos, on dry land.

Now, I couldn't feel any sand beneath me. The waves were overtaking me, and the only Spanish I can think of is ahi (there) as I frantically pointed to shore.

So I started shouting ahi, ahi, ahi (pointing the whole time)

He then looked at me, smiled, and responds

oh, tu hables espanol”? (oh, you speak spanish?)

Wave crashes. I go under. Can’t breath

 “Not right-”

Wave crashes

“not right now”!

I started to look around for Jen who was only 10 feet away from me, but in the ocean, 10 feet may as well be 20 miles. I was screaming Jen, Jeeennn, and homegirl was just wading in the water because, apparently, she couldn't hear me. Though now that I think about it what could she have really done? I probably would have drowned both of us. I began to freak out, and what is the first thing they tell you when you’re in a bad situation?

Don’t panic.

Aqua dude was still trying to talk to me and at this point, and I had given up on trying to remember Spanish. All I could think was...

Does this man play water polo?

How is he just swimming out here like it’s nothing?

OH LAWD not another wave?

I’m going to die.

I came to Cuba, and now I’m going to die!

Suddenly as if I was my common sense jumped off of my beach chair and back into my body I submerged myself under the water, flipped onto my back, and kicked like fire towards the shore leaving Barnacle Boy behind to serenade the dolphins. Once I made it to the sandbar I flipped back around and swam to shore until I could feel the sand beneath my hands. At this point, I was exhausted and crawled, yes on my hands and knees, out of the water and collapsed starfish style onto the beach.

As I laid there thinking about my poor life decisions I suddenly saw Jen appear over me.

“Dude. Are you okay”?

Breathless with the sound of little Cuban children laughing in the background

“Yeah (gasp) yeah. Just give me a minute.”

I could hear mumblings of Spanish and snickering around me. I imagined them saying...

Look look. Look at the crazy lady who was overturned by the waves and had to crawl out of the sea. Look, now she is covered in sand and passed out on the shore jajajajajajaja.

Jen came back over and informed me she immediately needed to get back under the umbrella because her skin was frying, and she took off down the beach. I tried to regain any strength I had and lifted myself up off the shore. With my hair completely disheveled, beach dress covered in sand, and my lungs not completely recovered I started walking behind Jen as we made our way back to the safety of our chairs. As we walked back I saw Fish Boy in the same spot we had come to meet just swimming around like nothing. As the locals stared at the crazy America walk by I pretended as if nothing had just taken place.

I had lost my sunglasses, my pride, and almost lost my life.

When my aunt and grandmother saw us in the distance I could tell by the look on their faces they knew something had just happened to us. As we got closer my aunt said with a shocked look on her face “Girl, what the world happened to you”?

“Well, I almost drowned”

“You what”!?! (hahahaha)

“I almost drowned in Cuba.”

-Chantel 0_0




Chantel Rivera1 Comment