A Near Death Experience Story That Could Have Been Avoided
You are probably wondering how a visit to beautiful, relaxing, sun-filled Capri could turn into a near death experience? Well, when you let your excitement overcome your common sense, anything is possible.
How Did It Begin?
My friend and I took off from Naples, Italy in the morning of an early September day, hoping to arrive in Capri, Italy by early afternoon. We took a ferry ride from the port of Naples and arrived in Capri around 1 pm. One of the focal points of coming to Capri Island, was to see the Blue Grotto. Check out 5 Reasons You Should Visit Capri Island. On the ride over there, we were really excited and taking all kinds of pictures from off of the ferry. Little did we know, what the day was going to turn out like. It’s crazy to think that, sometimes when you are expecting some type of adventure, it ends up being the complete opposite adventure. Expectations in life, can be people’s biggest mind-fucks.
The first part of getting to the island was all about finding the best price for the tours of the Blue Grotto. However, it didn’t take long to find out that the main reason we came to the island, was not going to be an option on that day. We talked to a man representing one of the many Blue Grotto tours, and he let us know that all of the tours were closed for that day. The reason was the tide was to high. Inside the Grotto, you need a low tide so the boats can get inside the crevice, and you can hang out in there. With the tide, it wasn’t possible for the tour to happen. Apparently, during the time in September that we came, it was when the tide starts to get a little bit rougher. But in my mind and I am sure my friends mine too, we were on a 3-month long adventure, so we weren’t going to let this stop us from enjoying Capri Island to the fullest.
After we got the unfortunate news, we strolled around the stores from where you first get onto the island, and then made our way up a steep hill to the middle of the island. This led us to more stores, which we weren’t really interested in, so we kept on going. If you go far enough you reach the south edge where you can look over into the water. Obviously, from the pictures I have posted, it is amazing. But there is an even better place to get a good view. Augustus Gardens allows you to see straight down and pretty much anywhere on the south side of the Island. Your pictures will be fantastic, and it will start to give you some more ideas of what you want to do on the Island. At least, for me and my friend.
We stood up there taking pictures and staring at the see-through blue water, filled with boats, and people swimming. And I mentioned to my friend, I want to get to the water and get in, and he agreed with what I said. The only problem was, we didn’t have any clue how to get to the water. But when you want an experience bad enough, you can usually will it to happen.
(Note – Most of the pictures in this article expand if clicked on, to get a more detailed view)
From Augustus Gardens in the middle of the southern part of the island, we went east and started just walking along pathways, hoping to find a way. After going through some dead ends we came across a path heading east, that went by a bunch of hotels on our right hand-side. One specific thing that I remember, is passing an elderly couple when we were almost to the very end of this path, and having them tell us, “you are almost at a dead end, you might as well turn around”. We told them thanks, and then ignored what they told us. For some reason, during this day, it’s almost comical how much advice and signs we decided to ignore. I can’t say for sure what caused us to flat out ignore OBVIOUS signs. In your face, obvious signs. So we kept walking and of course the couple was right, it was a dead end.
We thought, shit, well maybe we aren’t going to get a chance to get to the water. Until, my friend noticed a little opening on the path that was slightly covered by trees. This is where our adventure within our adventure really began. I noticed that there was a sign written in Italian that said “Vietato Oltrepassare”, which if you can’t translate, means, “No Trespassing”. Another sign ignored!!!! Literally. By this time my friend was already 20-30 feet ahead walking along this beaten path with trees overhanging. I had no choice, but to duck under the barb-wired fence and go on the ancient path as well. I know at the time, I was 50/50 if this was going to turn out to be a good idea or not. I knew that we were on some rich persons property, walking on a path, that wasn’t even guaranteed to get to the water.
But as we kept on walking on pine cones, and getting hit in the face with branches of trees, I think we both were getting a clearer feeling that we were headed towards the water. I was still about 20 feet behind my friend, when I hear him say “I found a downhill path that looks like it leads to the water!” I yell back, “Hell yea! Let’s do it!” I get to where it starts, and there was a rope that was hooked onto a tree at the top of the downward descent. It was Made to hang onto as you go down the path, with un-sturdy rocks and large gaps between steps. I tried to stay in the moment the best as I could, and act like there wasn’t a 100 foot drop if I were to slip. But by being able to hang onto the rope, and positioning my feet in extremely awkward positions, we were able to maneuver our way down to one of the rocks that was sitting directly on top of the water.
You Think You Can Swim in the Sea?
Like I said before, the common sense that we used on that day was almost non-existent. Here we are, on top of a huge rock thinking we are about to get into the water, that they had closed the #1 tour that they make money off of tourists with, because of high tides. But in that moment, we were both feeling extreme excitement that we had found a way to get to the water, without a tour, and these logical conclusions were not in our thoughts.
When we got to the rock, there was an Argentinian kid that was sitting there. We started talking to him, as he was trying to catch his breath, about getting into the water. He looked like the type of kid that probably did adventurous physical exercise all the time. But he said that it shouldn’t be to big of a problem getting into the water, as long as you can swim pretty well. But this was the final sign that was telling us NOT to get into the water. He had blood streaming down his leg from a cut he got from the rocks, and he was really dehydrated. But once again, after talking with him, we proceeded……………..
I think sometimes when you are in these situations, with another friend, you don’t want to be the one that says you aren’t going to do that. It’s your ego talking. That, and the combination of your adrenaline pumping, that can really alter your decision making.
So the Argentinian kid left and started going back up, and we both took off our socks, shoes, and shirts. And come to think of it, we just left our phones, wallets, and passports just sitting there on the rock!
The rock that we were on was about 10 feet out of the water, and was razer blade sharp. But at that time, I think we both really underestimated how hard the water would be to swim in, and didn’t give one thought to how we were going to get back out of the water.
Our goal was to get to another crevice in a random rock, that we saw a few independent boats going into. It was probably about 100 meters away. The rock that we were sitting on was about 50 meters away from another set of 3 rocks that came out of the water about 3 feet. So we were going to swim from the current rock, to the 3 rocks, rest, and then go into the cave.
Before I had everything completely taken off, my friend had already jumped into the water. My biggest fear about the water at that time were sharks. That is comical to me now. Because in that area, there are rarely sharks. And there were way bigger things to worry about. But halfheartedly, I jumped into the water after my friend.
As soon as I hit the water, I started just swimming like crazy, and was able to make it to the 3 rocks pretty quickly. I held onto the side of one, before I propelled myself up on top of it.
The crazy part about swimming in the sea is that you are bound to swallow even just a little bit of salt water, and that zaps your energy almost instantly. I sat there on that rock, and then looked down at my feet and hands, and I was bleeding like crazy. I had cut after cut, just from hanging onto a rock!!
Our thinking shifted at this point, and we both came to the conclusion that we weren’t going into the cave, we were both already exhausted. But now we had to make our way back to the original rock that was 10 feet out of the water, where our belongings were!
My friend went to the other side of the current rock, which was blocked from my view by a boulder that was pretty far out of the water. When he originally went over there, he said he was just going to check it out, and see if there was an easier path to get back to the original spot. There wasn’t. But after waiting for about 5 minutes, he didn’t come back. I went to peak around the rock that was suspended out of the water and saw that he was already almost back to our starting spot. It looked like he was struggling like crazy, but somehow he was able to get back up.
I think he made the right decision to go back quickly, and get it over with.
Near Death at Capri Island
But now it was my turn.
I analyzed my cuts for a moment longer, and then jumped into the water.
I remember that when I first started swimming to come back, I was immediately exhausted. And I definitely had some thoughts about half way, that I wasn’t going to make it back. I was about 10-15 meters away from the original rock, when I realized that my swimming wasn’t going anywhere! The tide was coming in from west to east from where I was facing, headed towards the rock, and I was trying to go north. It wasn’t happening. I fought it for a minute, and this is where I really lost all of my energy. Eventually, I had to go with the waves. I let them push me against the side of the whole island. Luckily, this side had a place where I could put my feet on a reef that wasn’t sharp.
On the other hand, the waves were pushing me into the rock so I could hold on easily, but in between this, they were pulling me off the rock as well. Back and forth, back and forth. Pushing me into the rock, pulling me off of the rock.
This is where I thought I was going to die. I was near death. Because I had no control at all. I would be on the rock, and would be holding on as I cut my hand more, when this ridiculous force just threw my whole body back into the water. Imagine holding onto the side of a rock, with waves then pulling you off, and you are landing on your back in the water over and over.
My only option was to get back to the original rock somehow and hope that I could climb up, no matter how much I cut myself up.
During this time, my friend was pretty much helpless. He couldn’t jump in the water to save me, then we would both be screwed. There wasn’t much he could do at all. It was a helpless situation. A normal visit to a tourist island had turned into my life flashing before my eyes.
There is always a way
Until…he yelled at me, saying that he was able to step down a couple feet on the side of the rock, and could try to grab my hand, to pull me up. He was able to get his shoes on, and I was able to grab onto one section that was sticking out of the rock with one hand. He grabbed my other hand. At this point I didn’t care if I had 100’s of cuts all over my body. I was just not going back into the water!!!! After a struggle, I was able to drag my body up the rock and somehow made it to the top!
It wasn’t over yet though. I had swallowed so much water by that point, that I was extremely dehydrated. But we had to climb back up to the top of the island and back into the middle of the island to get water.
As soon as I got out of the water, my friend starts throwing up from to much salt water in his body. I could feel it too, but I had to make it to the top first.
Not only did I feel like shit at this point, but I had a ridiculous amount of cuts all over my body. Cuts that were burning from the salt getting inside of them.
It came down to mind over matter. I started to go up using the rope, and would stop every ten feet and almost pass out. It was probably equivalent to running a marathon, and then at the end of the marathon drinking salt water to hydrate yourself. You are going to be close to death!
Fortunately, I was able to get back to where the hotels that we walked by were, and one of the workers was able to give me some bottled water. I drank that one, and about 5 others once I got back to the shops in the center.
My body had gone through so much that day including expending so much adrenaline, blood, and energy that I was extremely tired, but relaxed the rest of the day.
It’s strange to say that you enjoyed something as extreme as a near death experience, but I did. Not the physical part of it, but what happens to your mind when you are in those situations. Not only is it something that you can tell a story about, but when I am telling that story, I get right back to that place. It is vivid in my mind whenever I think of it. Humans like to be extremely focused in the moment, and it’s sad to say that a lot of every day things are dull. When you become alive, even in something that is perceived as negative, you enjoy it. Why do soldiers keep on going back to war even if they know it is unsafe? They are more alive.
Nothing mattered other than that moment. If you have ever been in a near death or extreme situation, you should know what I mean. It isn’t the best situation logically, but it gives you peace of mind for at least that moment, and a little bit afterward.
I was lucky that I didn’t need any stitches, and while we hung out the rest of the day around Capri, I was in a very peaceful place.
We were given signs throughout the whole time we were headed to the water, and ignored every single one of them, but maybe it turned out how it was supposed to turn out. Giving us a taste of a near death experience, that puts everything in perspective.
However, I now know that when they tell you the tide is too high for the #1 tourist attraction at their island, unless you have a boat, do not get into the water!!!!!