The chance discovery of his journals, buried on a Colombian cliff above the sea, uncovers a mystery which took many years to finally solve. His journals tell of misery and elation, of triumph and failure, of insight and insanity.
Does the man make the journey, or does the journey make the man?
Follow the tiny kayak, and follow the mind of a young man set on a goal that no amount of torture can dissuade him from reaching, on a journey that brings him face to face with himself.
As far as he could see from his vantage point on the little sand dune, there were walls of white foam from the waves. Fear once more crept into Ben’s thoughts. Mist from the morning’s drizzling rain filled the air with an unusual chill, and added to his sense of doom. Ben’s new found instincts warned of danger. His senses told him to wait, and he found one ray of good hope. The wind was blowing from the north, and Ben thought that if he could just force the kayak out past the dangerous surf, the wind would be at his back. If he made it out there, he might be able to make substantial progress.
Progress was not his only thought that morning, as he dragged the heavy kayak to the ocean’s edge. He thought of the alternative of sitting on the shore all day, just watching the clouds pass overhead, and counting the number of crabs who tried to steal his food. This thought was rejected with a loud laugh. Despite the treacherous waters of the Sea of Cortez, Ben knew he couldn’t sit idly by for another day. No matter what the conditions, he was prepared to face them.
Regardless of her fury, he thought.
Ben took a few deep breaths, and set the paddle firmly in place beside his seat. He lowered the new rudder into the sand and pushed off. He leapt into the cockpit and braced himself, as the first wave smacked against the side of the boat.
He turned to meet the next wave, and shuddered.
It was huge.
Closing his eyes and taking a quick gulp of air, he braced for the impact.
The wave was over ten feet tall, and all too quickly engulfed him.
His neck jerked violently back as the rush of water hit with full force.
The kayak stayed upright, but the rush of blue water nearly pulled Ben from the tiny cockpit.
His lungs burned for air that was out of reach. Only reflex and training could save him.
He dug deep with the paddle, using it as a lever to keep the kayak upright until his head broke the foaming surface.
Air, sweet air.
But for how long?
Now on top of the spume and water again, Ben watched the waves crash around and in front of him.
All around the ocean rose up in rage, trying to rid herself of this hapless invader. The cockpit was half full of water. Ben had been waiting for an opportunity to put on his spray skirt, and it had come too late. He kept trying, waiting for a lull in the bouncing, spinning dance. He looked over his shoulder toward the shore, and saw that he was already about fifty yards out. No turning back now. The intensity and power of the water increased with every moment. The next wave formed in front of him. As it built, Ben could tell its size would be awesome. Craning his neck, he could barely see the wavetop’s white fingers curling over twenty feet above his head.
I felt my heart leap in fear, as I held the paddle in a death grip that whitened my cramping fingers.
If the wave sucked the kayak into its curling vacuum, Ben would not have a chance to keep the boat from turning over and throwing him out into the sea. He couldn’t survive being separated from the boat. The force of the kayak landing on his head could knock him out or break his neck, and he would drown in the boiling water.
There would be not a ripple to mark my passage.
For a split second the wave seemed to hesitate. The kayak raced up its monstrous face. Ben reached the top in a rush of motion just before it broke. Aided by his furious paddling, momentum carried him over the top in a blur of foam and white water. Once on the other side Ben careened rapidly down its back. The kayak’s bow sliced through the water, and he paddled frantically to keep up with the pace. Now he was taking deep breaths, intensely aware of his fear. The fear seemed to prick his senses, telling him he was alive, if just for the moment. Mixed with the raw sensation of fear was a rush of excitement.
About Tom Gauthier
Tom Gauthier brings a unique perspective on human motivation to this book. Three decades of international travel, teaching and consulting on behavior, motivation, and change, has shaped his perspectives of both place and human condition that drive this story.