I am very proud to call myself a member of the ’Crazy Caracasbaai Swimmers’, a tight-knit group of swimmers that considers the Caracasbaai peninsula to be their backyard pool.
Through the grapevine we heard that another group of swimmers was organizing a fun 4.5K swim around the peninsula. We immediately asked if we could join their party. I especially liked the fact that A: it wasn’t a race, B: the swim included two pit-stops and C: there would be 2 kayaks and 1 small boat accompanying the swimmers throughout the swim.
And these ABC’s were important to me because 1: I don’t like to be trampled by overzealous competitors while swimming, 2: the pit-stop included energy drinks, water and a banana and more importantly 3: I REALLY don’t like to find myself swimming all alone in the deep, dark blue sea! So, the decision was a no-brainer; we would join them for the swim!
For those of you who don’t know the Caracasbaai Peninsula, or who don’t even know Curaçao for that matter, let me give you a quick rundown of our island…Situated between Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao forms parts of the ABC islands, also known as the Leeward Islands. With a population of approx. 150,000, its most distinctive feature is the many different types of inlets surrounding the island. No two beaches are the same. A must for divers, sailors and yachters alike. And now on to my story…
’Nos tei!’ (We’re here!) We all high-fived and made nervous jokes about the impending swim; it was a pretty long swim, even for our standards, so we were all a bit apprehensive.
We took a quick ‘before’ picture of our group just as they gave the signal…it was time to walk to the starting point. It was a 5-minute walk but we had to go barefoot since the exit point wasn’t at the same location as the entry point and the path was HOT! We kind of fast walked/hopped/ran over the rock-strewn trail towards the water.
The organizers also wanted to take a group picture of all the participants: “Ok, smile everybody, say seeeeea!” Finally, after a short briefing, we entered the water, the countdown started: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…GO…and have fun everybody!”
I started out nice and easy as I didn’t know any of the other swimmers and therefore couldn’t immediately gauge their speed. Basically I had two choices; I could either stay with my team, or push a little and join the faster swimmers, even though that meant running the risk of not being able to keep up with any of them, falling behind and…having to swim the rest of the way BY MYSELF!
Of course, being the ‘kabes duru’ (hard headed) fool that I am, I went for it and tried to keep up with the big boys…
I managed to place myself between two swimmers, so I was pretty comfy…until they started to pick up their speed. I, of course, also sped up, because at this point I had no idea where my buddies were and the one sentence going over and over like a mantra in my head was: ‘You should’ve stayed with your clan, you idiot!’
The water got choppier and the current stronger. I felt like I was moving backwards instead of forwards and every time I breathed from my right side, a wave would hit me right in the face making me gulp a ton of water. In a desperate attempt to stay with the two swimmers, I let myself glide back a bit so that I could stealthily draft right behind them. Good plan, lousy execution. I kept slapping one of the guy’s foot with every stroke, but I didn’t dare ease up on my stroke because I knew that I risked losing him if I slowed down too much. So I gave up on being covert, prayed that the guy I was mercilessly smacking was a good old sport who wouldn’t suddenly flip over and push me under and I whacked merrily away at his toes up to our first pit-stop, a small inlet across from the Sta. Barbara Resort.
‘HALLERLUJAAAH!!!!’ I made it! I crawled out of the water and smiled meekly at the ‘good old sport’, who thankfully didn’t have psychopathic tendencies and took the slaps good naturedly. I apologized profusely but he said it was all part of the adventure.
I was just considering whether or not to swim the rest of the way with my own clan to avoid all this stress when the head group jumped back into the water.
‘Ho-ho-hoooo! Wait, waaaait, wardaaaa!’ Aren’t they going to wait for the rest of the group to catch up before we all continue on?! Uhm…apparently not! So, now my choice was to stick with ‘Mr. Good Old Sport’ and slap him all the way to the next stop or stay behind and wait for the rest of the guys…What should I do…
Splash! There goes the ‘kabes duru’ fool again! Yes…I mean myself! I sprint for it to try and catch up with ‘Mr. Good Old Sport’, but his name for sure wasn’t ‘Mr. Fool’! The dude was long gone, I had to find another sacrificial lamb to latch onto.
I managed to catch up to a girl swimming at an acceptable pace I could actually keep up with…nice! This part of the swim is a beautiful stretch. Right after you turn the corner the water turns this perfect hue of light blue and visibility is so clear that you feel like you are in a saltwater aquarium. There is an abundance of corals, fish and sea life. I relax into my swim and simply enjoy the view…amazing!
Shoot! I was so into watching the little fishies that I forgot to keep an eye on the girl I was swimming behind. Apparently she wasn’t much into fish-watching; she’d vanished during my few minutes of blissful contentment…I was…BY MYSELF…in the DEEP OPEN SEA!
Ok, no panic, I can do this, the boat and kayaks should be nearby. I raise my head and do a quick scan to look for the kayaks and spot one not far to my left. The second stop is already in view as well…it’s all good!
It’s still quite a swim to shore and I’m really starting to feel my arms now. I’m thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all. ‘Come on girl, people swim from Cuba to Miami, you can do this!’ I bravely trudge on and finally reach Director’s Bay, our second stop…great, just one more stretch to go…I collapse on the beach and contemplate my options: walk the last part back or wait for my buddies and join them for the final stretch…I’m really missing them just about now!
Mr. ‘Good Old Sport’ finds me slumped on the beach staring out to sea. I think he takes pity on me and says: “Come on, up you go, we are almost there, let’s go, you can draft behind me.” Those were the loveliest words I’ve ever heard in my life! I take a last mournful look at terra firme behind me and dive in the water for the last 1.5 k swim back to shore. Good to his word, Mr. Good Old Sport allows me to smack him all the way to the finish. My arms feel like bricks and I’ve probably swallowed about a gallon of water throughout the swim, but…I’ve done it! I completed the swim around the peninsula and I did it in just under 2 hours…I’m the (wo)man!
My buddies arrive not far behind me. We all hug, high-five once more and swap stories. According to the GPS watch the distance was 6.3K not 4.5K, no wonder my arms felt like slabs of cement!
We all huddle up for an ‘after’ pic…”Everybody say: six point threeeeeee!!!!”
It was definitely a very awesome day, looking forward to a repeat next year!