In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Beachcomber Island in Fiji, was where the incident occurred.
It was a beautiful day, exactly the kind of day one would want, and expect, on an island such as Fiji. My cousin: Michelle, friends: Caroline and Linda, and I were headed to a backpacker’s paradise – Beachcomber Island. It was the perfect island, far away from everyone and everything, and we had the entire day to spend there, soaking up the sun with ice cold drinks in our hands.
We spent the morning laying out in the sun, and then resting in the shade at the barefoot bar. If this wasn’t paradise, I had no idea what was.
We got a few drinks into our system and relaxed on the beach enjoying our view, until one of us decided that we wanted some adventure in our day. Michelle went to ask about parasailing, but since we would have to head to a different island for that experience, and she signed us up for banana boating instead.
We were all excited about the idea and with an ocean that was calm, we figured it would be safe enough, especially since I was the only one of the four of us who knew how to swim.
After lunch, the water got rough, but the men at the banana boat area told us it would be safe and that we wouldn’t fall in. We geared up with our life vests, posed for a photo, and took off into the ocean.
We loaded on the boat one by one, not knowing what to expect. I don’t know how I got placed in the front, but I am assuming it’s because I was the only one who knew how to swim.
My job? To tell everyone which way to lean depending on the waves in front of us, and I must say, I did this job well. As we headed further and further into the middle of the ocean, Beachcomber became nothing more than a speck behind us.
My confidence grew as we continued to ride the waves, until we turned around to head back to the island. This is where disaster struck. It was here, that we hit a wave the wrong way and tumbled into the ocean. There was nothing my skills as the front rider could do for us.
We hit the water hard, and I came up gasping for air, startled by the fall. Until I began thinking about the boat that was driving away, and what was lurking under the surface. In my head, I saw sharks circling below my legs, ready to attack. Talk about dramatic…
But, my visions didn’t last for long. I was snapped out of my anxious state by Caroline’s call of my name, and I snapped back to reality.
I looked around for the girls, remembering that they couldn’t swim, and made sure we were all accounted for and that everyone was okay. Linda, who never has a negative thought, was happily floating around with a smile on her face, while Michelle kept floating further and further away, however, she seemed to be in a good state.
It wasn’t until I looked over at Caroline, that I began to worry. She was taking in a lot of water and was in a complete panic; I could tell she was terrified and all I could imagine was her slipping through her life vest to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean never to be seen again.
I grabbed her and told her to do the bicycle with her legs. Then, I grabbed Michelle to prevent her from floating away and the four of us joined together in a circle, while we waited for the boat to pick us up.
Then, Linda and I got on board and lifted the other two girls up to safety. It wasn’t easy getting us back up, and we were all afraid of hitting another bump and tumbling back into the ocean. Maybe, this wasn’t the greatest activity for a group of girls without swimming experience.
Luckily, we made it back to the shore without another incident, and aside from being a bit shaken up, we were relieved to see land again.
Of course, the only way to feel better about what had just occurred, was to head straight to the bar to celebrate our survival. Our adrenaline was rushing and our hands were shaking as we downed our margaritas and sex on the beaches. Due to our state, the drinks affected us relatively quickly, and we began laughing uncontrollably about what had just happened in the ocean. Queen’s song Bicycle Race even became Caroline and my song of the trip because of my immediate reaction to tell her to do the bicyle.
The girls and I decided to stick to land for the rest of our time in Fiji. We’ve also decided that until the girls take a few swimming lessons, the land is where we’ll remain. Even though it wasn’t the best experience, it bonded us together for life, and it is still one of my most vivid memories; proof that sometimes even the worst experiences can have at least some redeeming qualities.