Yesterday, June 23rd, was one of the first sunny days in almost a week and we decided to take full advantage of it. Since we had some friends visiting from Florida, we decided to take them to one of the most picturesque beaches in the area, Caleta Tankah. We also invited several of our friends who live here locally.
Caleta Tankah is located just north of the Mayan ruins in Tulum. In fact, you can see part of the ruins from the beach.
The thing that makes Caleta Tankah unique from the other beaches in the area is that it has a small sandy inlet that is fed by a steady flow of fresh water. It creates a crystal-clear pool that is substantially cooler than the Caribbean waters only a few feet away.
Although there is a substantial current pushing out to the Caribbean, it is still comfortable to stand on the sandy bottom and enjoy the view without any danger at all. There is a safety cable installed to keep people from venturing beyond the point where the water becomes too deep to stand in order to prevent them from being swept away by the strong current.
Since I took so much time to explain the area of the inlet, the safety cable and the extremely strong current, you can probably guess where this story is headed.
While my friends and I were standing waist deep in the inlet talking, we observed two men swim under the safety cable and toward the point where the inlet opens up into the Caribbean. We all stopped talking and watched them. One of my friends even made the comment, “That’s a bad idea.”
Less than 30 seconds later, they were both in trouble and trying to fight the current to get back into the inlet. The younger of the two swam as hard as he could against the current until he was close enough that I could grab him and pull him to the cable. His friend, an older gentleman, was swept farther out. His family members were yelling to him but they were helpless to do anything.
Near the entrance to the inlet, there was a sign warning of the rip current. It also contained instructions of what to do in the event that you were caught in the current. It advised that you should swim either left or right along the coast to escape the current and then swim to shore.
The man was trying in vain to swim directly against the current and he was getting tired quickly. Everyone was yelling to him in Spanish and pointing to swim to the left down the shore before coming in but he just stayed where he was.
Several employees from the beach club ran down to the shore to assist. After assessing the situation, one employee ran back to the building to get life vests. By this point, the man in the water looked visibly fatigued and he was clearly in danger of drowning.
That’s when the manager, Victor Miguel Hernandez, stripped off his shirt and shoes and dove into the choppy water. He swam out to the man, approximately 25 feet away, and helped to keep him afloat until a second employee arrived with life vests.
Once the man was wearing a life vest, the immediate danger was gone; however, they still had difficulty getting him to shore. Two other employees eventually entered the water to assist in getting him out.
Let’s Wrap This Up
What I witnessed that day was true heroism. I saw people put their lives on the line without hesitation for a complete stranger. That man definitely owes his life to them and I hope that reflected in his tip when he paid his bill.
You know that this group of heroes did next? A couple of them tended to some minor wounds on the soles of their feet caused by the jagged rocks and then they all went back to work – still soaking wet from the experience.