That time my sister and I got caught in a current. *We survived*
No, not all strangers are dangerous.
Before you skip to the part where we got swept from Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno, check out this short poem inspired by a stranger 👇🏼.
Stranger danger? Flip a coin. A murderer or a good samaritan? Are you dancing with one? This one. He saved our lives. Will he help you? There is only one way to find out …
On a sunny day 500 days ago. Maybe, I have the memory of a goldfish. Ha, who counts days anymore.
Somewhere in paradise, on a sandy beach on Gili T island, 11 hours and sixty seconds away from home.
A stranger saved my sister’s life *and mine*, using a speedboat.
Noticeably, I started at the resolution because I hate cliffhangers.
Spotted: Two short sisters, one is blonde-haired-blue eyed and the other is brunette and brown-eyed.
Both are loud and step into an empty beach on a tourist-infested island.
What could go wrong? This is how most horror movies start.
Ok, you might think I’m being dramatic but it is the only time I ever almost died. So, please bear with my theatrics.
The Gili islands also nicknamed the “mini islands”, is situated West of Lombok and East of Bali.
Sister rivalry almost cost us our life
Back to the real story, we just arrived at Gili Trawangan from Bali.
Earlier that morning, we had a picturesque outing where we gracefully rode bikes.
Only one of us was graceful. I fell every couple of meters. My hands started bleeding from the handlebars.
But the Instagram video was very touristy, which really, is more than a girl who almost died can ask for.
Upon arrival at our apartment, I read a pamphlet left by our Booking.com host, including everything to watch out for.
Watch out for
1. Indonesian laws about drugs. 2. Water currents and swimming late. 3. Theft.
Clearly, I read that the water is prone to currents. Still, my sister and I insisted on swimming.
The events leading to getting caught in a current
People were around having fun. But nobody was swimming.
The water was a little chilly and uncomfortable. That part didn’t bother us so we continued stepping into the water.
Rocks and debris started to move in a loop slamming our feet and cutting us ever-so-lightly.
This is the part where I felt pain- like the baby I am, I screamed, ” Ouch, this hurts”.
Remember, I thought I was in paradise- this didn’t fit my narrative. My sister turned around and said,
“Stop being a baby”.Celine Khuri
My stubbornness pushed me to continue. My sister and I live to one-up each other (lovingly of course). Especially, I hate being called a baby.
The whole time we were screaming out loud and laughing hysterically.
Remember when I said we try to one-up each other, we also have strikingly loud voices thanks to our Lebanese mom.
Screaming, laughing, and bickering- while everyone was watching us.
Where is my bag?
Like most naive people swimming into danger, life was was entertaining.
For those few minutes at least we were: excited, happy, and laughing.
Slowly breast stroking our way further and further away from the island.
Everything was fine and dandy, picturesque even- until I realized I could not see my bag.
Shit, I screamed at my sister, “What if someone steals it? “. Yes, I know. It was idiotic for me to leave my belongings on a beach in a tourist area.
This is not time for a lecture though, please silently judge me (especially you, mom 🤪).
Stuck in the water thanks to a current or my stupidity
Crap. Now, I was in deep shit. My sister called me dumb (again), and agreed to swim back.
I tried to move my hands forward in a quick crawl. It was difficult. I thought to myself, “When did I get this bad at swimming”?
Swimming lessons were a waste of money.
I tried again, this time I managed to move forward.
However, my sister was a bit further back. I insisted she swim towards me, but she couldn’t.
Long story short: we were stuck in our place.
Mind you, this whole time we were laughing.
We knew we were in danger but at the same time, we did not know how serious it was.
Instead, we just thought we need to work our way back to our bag.
Luckily, we did not need to wait long. Our loud laughs and screams caught the attention of a speedboat that came to save our lives.
Being noisy saved our lives
A quick speedboat passed by and rescued us. To my shock, a stranger had to carry me out. Usually, I am wary about letting people carry me.
Since I am afraid of shattering their back muscles. Uncharacteristically, I did not care. I let my whole body weight fall onto a stranger.
He shook his head three times and said you’re crazy, “If you wanted to go to Gili Meno, you should have just bought a ticket”.
” What”?, We squealed. We moved to another island. Ok, this sounds a little dramatic but it’s not as bad as it looks.
The Gili islands are right next to each other with a connected pathway you can walk or ride a bike on.
We were shocked we were in the water for so long. We thought we were only swimming for 15 minutes.
Turns out we were in the water for hours. Thankfully, being loud meant people on the island watched us from the start.
Also, a ferry filled with tourists passes every day at 5 pm. Good timing.
The man, whose face I will never forget dropped us off at the Gili Meno drop-off zone.
Surprisingly, we only had a 30-minute walk back to where we were staying.
I am not particularly religious, or a person who believes in miracles, but that speedboat was our miracle.
Truly, I don’t think we’d be here today. We are so lucky. That is why I am ok with telling you the rest of the embarrassing story.
The walk of shame: Scantly dressed (👙+👙)
Stuck in a haze, I did not register what happened. Did you ever dream you were naked in public? Feel free to *gasp* here.
You try to cover yourself with anything. However, your body parts stay slipping out.
This moment felt exactly like that, but more embarrassing. I was practically naked. Usually, I am not a prude about clothes.
Eek being barefoot disturbed me. My very tiny string bikini kept slipping and I was too tired to adjust it.
Whatever happened to nice, functional, one-piece swimsuits?
Needless to say, people were staring. My sister and I were walking back barefoot, in our swimsuits, with our hair soaking wet.
Every step we took was in a muddy path, where many horses self-defecated 🥺.
Yay, some paths were held together by wood specifically for visitors to walk on.
The eye-strikingly beautiful image cannot take away from the fact I stepped in horse poop 💩.
The walk back felt like a movie scene. Locals and Australian tourists were congratulating us on surviving the current.
Others opting to call us “Guilla”, which means crazy.
3 lessons I learned from my water adventure:
Eventually, the whole island heard about our not-so-short and relaxing swim. *Very humbling*.
In the end, I learned three key lessons from this situation.
- Follow your intuition. I knew something was weird and off. Yet, I ignored the logical sane voice in the back of my head. Never again. I will not let pride or ego push me into an endless pit of stupid decisions.
- Be loud. If we weren’t such nuisances nobody would have noticed us drift away in a current. Likely, this would have been a tragic story vs. a funny one.
- Strangers can be saviors. I was never the type to fear strangers. Yet, I never thought anybody would go out of their way to save my life. Mostly, I learned that some strangers save lives. Amazing people exist. Not only in the movies. Saviors exist – I think movies are based on real-life heroes.
What happened to my wallet?
Nothing. My wallet stayed in its place for hours unattended.
Yet, nobody touched a cent. Even though this area is prone to theft.
Either people are exaggerating about the theft in the area or humans stick together when it matters.
After almost getting lost at sea, I didn’t care about my wallet. But it was a nice surprise to see it perfectly intact.
In conclusion, I will never underestimate people again. Kind strangers save lives. This one, in particular, saved two lives.
Also, humor and laughing help in any situation, especially when stuck in a current.
Perhaps, laughing so much and fighting throughout this ordeal distracted us from reality.
If we discovered we were in a current and on another island, we would have panicked and used up all our energy.
Did you ever get stuck in a rip current?