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Attack of the Killer Bees

MEXICO | Thursday, 2 June 2011 | Views [656]

Caution: If you over worry about things you cannot control or are squeamish about bees; read no further.

If you are still reading, you should know that I am perfectly fine and healthy; breathing air and full of energy. But that is all after I had to be rushed to the emergency clinic in Mulege, Baja California Sur.

The story actually starts one day prior to the emergency medical attention. And here it goes....

The tres amigos pulled into Playa Coyote on the Sea of Cortez as the sun was already low. From a previous Baja adventure, I had learned there was great fishing and tons of clams across the bay a mile in the waters off a small island. I had made this paddle on my surf board before, towing an inflatable raft; it didn't take too long from what I could remember. I figured with all three of us on boards this time and no raft in tow, it would be a bit quicker. Well, it was just shy of 45 minutes to paddle across the bay on calm, warm waters with no wind. The sun had set by the time we got there, oops. Needless to say, we didn't stay long, but it was still too long. We caught a couple of fish, but no clams. The three of us paddled back in the dark and had quiet a surprise and eventual laugh when we returned. But that is a separate story.

Disappointed we didn't get any calms and only caught a few fish, hardly enough for a fish taco each, I wanted to be back at the island. The next day the winds had picked up, the little bay was all chopped up. Mica didn't want to paddle in the rougher seas and Roby had gone for a walk on the beach. I would not be deterred so easily, so I set out solo. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was that I paddled out 10 minutes before realizing I forgot to bring the bait. With the wind, the chop and turning around for the bait, it took me an hour and ten minutes of paddling before I was back on the island. Already the sun was dropping on the horizon. I looked at my watch and figured I had an hour before I HAD to start paddling back.

As I went to start fishing, I realized the spool of line had almost completely unraveled while paddling across the bay. 90% of the line was off the real and tangled in the water. I tried to untangle it but I was quickly frustrated; so I went for clams first. I had an old hockey stick shaft I used to poke around and stir up the shells. I swam around collecting clams for a bit, gathering three dozen clams before transitioning to fishing. With plenty of clams for a feast; I just wanted a few fish for some tacos. I decided to cut the tangled line and salvage about 25 yards. It was not much, but enough. The wind made it hard to cast, but once I found the spot I pulled in a fish on almost every cast. I kept an eye on my watch, but the thrill of catching more fish held me on the island well past my turnaround time. 

When I was finally packing up; tying the duffel bag full of clams and gear to my pack and attaching the stringer of fish to my board; I had 36 clams and 7 fish. Starting to paddle back my arms were rubber. I couldn't paddle away from a rubber duck let alone across the bay. I decided to take a short cut and paddle to the closest point of land, then walk back along the shoreline to camp. This would have cut the paddle in half but then left me with a mile and a half walk. Still, walking is faster than paddling and my legs were fresh. It took what seemed like forever just to paddle half of the way. As I came to the shore I had to find a place to get out of the water and onto the rocks. The first half of the shoreline was a steep rocky hillside then it went to a beach back to our campsite. I found a way onto the rocks and started blazing a trail towards the beach. The rocky cliffs pushed my path inland and uphill a ways, but it was not a dead end. As I climbed I happened to stumbled past a bees nest in the rocks. At first I hoped I had not disturbed then, I hoped I could just walk past. Then the first one stung me, and the second. I was in trouble. The came after me HARDCORE! I knew I had to get to the water, but it was 100ft below me and on a steep hillside. It was dangerous enough just walking the hillside now I had to sprint it to the water. I ran over loose scree, rocks falling past me left and right, cactus stabbing through my surf booties. It would have been painful, I think, but I didn't feel a thing. At the waters edge I had about a 15ft cliff and only 3ft of water; I could see the rocks all over the waters edge. Not happening; I would be seriously screwed if I broke my legs. I decided to throw my surf board in to free up my hands and I scurried around to the left. I found a path where I could boulder across a gap to a 5ft cliff. The whole time being stung everywhere! And the bouldering was made more difficult as my fishing pole and hockey stick tied to my back, caught on the rocks as I down-climbed. But I made it. From the lower cliff I heaved myself into the water. I tossed and turned in the water staying under as long as possible. Finally, after a few big breaths and lots of splashing I had eluded the bees. But not before I was stung some 50 times or more. Mainly my head, neck, shoulder and back. With a few on the front of my face, the lip and near my left eye from the section of bouldering.

Once in the water, free from the bees, I still had a long paddle and walk to get back to camp. I looked at my watch. I waved my arms and screamed for help. I was hopped up on adrenaline, I didn't feel any pain but I knew I was in trouble. My screams were dampened in the wind, it was pointless I was on my own. It took me another hour to paddle to shore and walk the beach to camp. When I got to camp, Roby and Mica helped untie the duffel bag backpack and fishing pole from my bad. They got me seated with water and warm, dry clothes. It was only a matter of minutes before they decided I needed emergency care. Luckily we were only about 15 miles from town. It was a slow, dangerous drive. I was dry-heaving out the car the whole way. At one point I felt my throat drying and tightening up. I was scared.

We made it to the clinic. I was on a hospital bed and soon enough was receiving medical attention. It was a huge relief, I was going to make it. The doctor attempted to give me a shot of Cortizone. Unfortunately, she could not find my veins and stabbed me as if I was a pin cushion. I was becoming scared again. Finally, she was able to deliver the shot in my thumb. They were about to send me on my way after just the one shot. I was feeling better, but nowhere near normal. I could still hardly walk on my own power. I was till dry-heaving every few minutes and then the diarrhea hit. It was explosive, we will leave it at that. Mica and Roby were able to convince the doctor to put me on an IV. More needles, more holes in my arm. And once the banana bag IV was in I ended up pulling it out stumbling to the bathroom. They added some more Cortisone to the IV drip and eventually I feel asleep. 

Mica woke me up when the IV was finished, it was close to 1am. I felt much better when woke up. Although I was moving gingerly, I was walking on my own power. Before taking off the doctor gave me medicine for upset stomach, fever and diarrhea. She also thought from all the vomit and diarrhea I had a stomach bug and prescribed me antibiotics. Now the most amazing part; the cost. Two shots of Cortisone, an IV, I dirtied two hospital beds, destroyed the bathroom and was given enough drugs for the next few days: 400 pesos. With the exchange rate it was about $35 USD. 

The whole next day I just rested, drank and ate what I could.  I felt like I was overcoming a serious flu. I could sit upright and read, but I had no energy and any movement was troublesome. Just to walk 20 feet to the bathroom was difficult and required much rest when I returned to my chair. By the evening I was back to my old self, feeling chipper and semi-energetic. It was a scary night, but I survived and now, thanks to the help of good friend, I have an incredible story of a true Mexican adventure. 

Tags: beach, bees, mexico


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