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Pelican Rock: An adventure that almost became my last

After brunch and beers at Mango Deck, my friends and I headed out for our boat tour of El Arco (Arch of Cabo San Lucas). The arch, formed from natural erosion, is a distinctive rock formation at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas, which is itself the extreme southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. This majestic natural wonder is inaccessible by land and marks the start of land’s end in this part of the world.

On our way back, the captain pointed toward a rock in the middle of the ocean and asked us whether we’d like to jump off the rock before heading back. This was a surprise as none of us had planned for it but we all looked at each other and it was pretty much a unanimous “hell yeah!”. In no time, the captain had anchored the boat a good few meters away from the rock; we put on our swimming gear and were ready for the adventure. In all this excitement, we missed two important facts – one, the morning beers were just kicking in and two, objects in the ocean are further than they appear.

The Pelican Rock is a popular spot for snorkeling and this was going to be my first time doing it. After a quick lesson in snorkeling and testing out the equipment, I jumped into the water and started to swim toward the rock. I didn’t have to think twice before jumping in as I’ve never had fear of water thanks to all those painful summer swimming classes I was forced to go to as a kid.

At about the halfway mark, I realized I was having trouble breathing through the snorkel, it was mostly due to user error than device error. I should have spent more time practicing near the boat before darting off but it was already too late for that. Damn those beers!!! Every time I tried to breathe in, all I managed was a big gulp of the salty water. The adventure quickly turned into a fight for survival.

The thought of giving up and heading back to the boat did cross my mind several times but then I would have forever regretted not going all the way. More importantly, I probably would have started fearing water and I just wasn’t willing to accept that alternate reality. The frantic endeavor to keep my head above water meant that my arms and legs were starting to get tired but I decided to keep going.

The body has limitations, the mind does not.

Tim Grover

Slowly and steadily, I made it to the rope with floats surrounding the rock and took a few moments to celebrate the small victory. From there, one final push got me to my destination. Sitting at the bottom of that rock, I felt accomplished, proud, and relieved all at the same time. I knew the hard part was over and it was now time to have some fun.

As I started my climb to the top, I noticed that the surface of the rock was jagged so I had to be careful about avoiding an injury but it’s almost impossible to avoid a few cuts here and there to the hands, arms, and legs. Not that I minded because just a few moments later, I was at the top, ready to jump. Looking back, the jump was probably the easiest part of the whole experience – a bit scary when you’re looking down but a lot of fun. What seemed like an eternity to get to, was over in just a few seconds. I wanted to do it again but I decided to save the energy for my swim back to the boat. I had almost forgotten that I still hadn’t figured out how to snorkel.

There was another surprise in store on the way back, this time a pleasant one and something that I’ll never be able to explain – not only did I make it back to the boat in almost half the time it took me to get to the rock, but also had no trouble breathing through the snorkel, catching glimpses of the underwater world on my way back. I had finally figured out the art of snorkeling!

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