Literally Falling for the Sea of Cortés

Oct 22, 2013 by

          “Have an amazing trip! Remember, don’t go in the water!” I was warned for what felt like the hundredth time before leaving for Cabo.

          “Thanks! I know, I know. I won’t!” I assured, not knowing then that I was days away from vigorously washing salt stains off my body like they were my own fingerprints scattered throughout a crime scene.

          In my defense, I was lured by the Sea of Cortés. Its beautiful sense of danger charmed me. You all know I’m a sucker for charm!




My struggle with the sea that I couldn’t keep my legs closed to.

My struggle with the sea that I couldn’t keep my legs closed to.

          To those who like to swim, warning: Cabo is not the place, as I was repeatedly told by everyone I know who has been. The undertow is too strong. Not much of a swimmer, I wasn’t too concerned about not being able to dive in. The sand is my domain. I’ll wet my feet at the shore, chill in a swim-up bar, or lay in the pool to cool off, but I prefer to keep my toes (okay, my hair) dry.

          That is, until I saw the Sea of Cortés for the first time. It is gorgeously enticing. For days, I watched it from afar. Over and over, I saw it rush over the sand and recede into itself. I listened to its song as I wrote. Today, I finally dipped my toes, intending to stop our rendezvous there, but I was intrigued by its touch. (Ladies, you know when you’re with a guy and you tell yourself it’s only going to go so far before his tongue trails your inner thigh and his teeth slide the lace of your dress back, and you think, what’s a little further? I mean, he’s already almost there, right? Well, with my tan feet on the verge of the sea, I was already almost there. Oops, there went my skirt, so to speak.) I walked further down the shore. The water entangled my ankles like a vine and pulled aggressively. I unwillingly moved toward the sea as it tugged, laughing in disbelief at the strength of its grip. I was only inches deep in its foam, yet I was nearly falling over when it grabbed me. Feeling the tow for myself, I understood why my friends had been so adamant about me staying out of the water. I could conceive how this sea, though beautiful, could kill. I walked closer to the edge of the tide, literally testing the waters. (What would you do if you weren’t afraid?)

          I forgot how much I love salt water. In Cancun, the only place prior to Cabo that I’ve experienced it (February 2011: my first touch of the Atlantic Ocean, baby!), it took me a while to get in. I was logically scared of sharks, as a Canadian had been attacked by one there the week prior to my arrival. However, once my toes felt its rush, I was in the water, jumping the waves like I was a kid in Wonderland’s wave pool again, laughing uncontrollably and feeling more alive than I could draw recent memory of at the time. I forgot about that memory until I felt that same liveliness today – or maybe, rather, until I felt a heightened awareness that I have a life to live, given that I was letting myself be pulled further and further into deathly waters. I was first ankle deep, then knee deep, then almost hip deep, then – I was hurried out of the water by a lifeguard. As I already knew, unlike the Atlantic, the Sea of Cortés is not safe for swimming.

          “Arriba!” the lifeguard yelled, beaconing for me to get back.

          I am definitely one of those people who both needs to be told more than once and needs to see to believe. I barely moved in response.

          “Arriba!” he repeated. Translation: “Get the fuck out of the water, you stupid tourist!”

          I turned to him before defiantly looking back toward the sea to see a wave many times my height only feet from me. I did not need to be told again. I ran for dry land, bent over in laughter all the way.

          As I did in Cancun, I felt unbelievably alive. I felt every reason that I love to travel coursing through me with the main one being that there is so much more to life than the daily crap that we subject ourselves to: the runs on the elliptical (I like the elliptical, but it does not beat the sea), the morning traffic jams, the day jobs, the mindless hi-how-are-yous, the countdowns to five o’clock – in short, the routine. So far, this has been my favourite moment of Cabo. The Sea of Cortés and I are quickly bonding. I don’t know how I’m supposed to leave it. I hope it can forgive me.

Happiness Tip: Step foot into the sea.

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