Faith, courage and ingenuity: The Tham Luan Nang Non Cave Rescue

Reporting on what really matters…

I thought I would take a moment and look back at last week’s events. And no, I’m not talking about the World Cup or, heaven forbid, the Helsinki summit fiasco!

No, what happened last week, in my view, supersedes by far an large these and many other media-crazed events. A week ago, on July 10, a miracle of human faith, courage, and human ingenuity happened on the other side of the world.

After more than two weeks of unimaginable anguish and uncertainty, rescue divers were finally able to extract 12 children and their coach from the depths of the Tham Luan Nang Non cave in Thailand.

But somehow, with all the World Cup madness and the last week’s international diplomacy hype, most news media giants have literally dropped the ball on an event that should continue to be reported and talked about as feverishly and constantly as the media events filling last week’s news channels.

You see, what transpired before, during and after the Tham Luan rescue operation was nothing short of remarkable and awe-inspiring.

The media have called it “miraculous”, using this word, in my humble opinion, very lightly, giving it free reign to bring ratings and drama to an incredible event that has been too easily forgotten already.

It is clear to me that many of the reporters that were present at the time of the actual rescue, broadcasting back to their respective networks, although doing it in a very professional manner, braving long hours and difficult weather conditions, absolutely had no idea of what the rescue attempt would mean for the kids and their rescuers on an emotional level.

And even though experts were invited to weigh in on their personal experience, it would have been adequate that at least one of the reporters would have had cave diving experience, to convey to the public exactly what these kids and their coach would be going through once the actual rescue got underway. Let me explain.

Putting it all in perspective…

Riviera Maya, where I have been living now for 10 years now, has a vast underground cave and river system, courtesy of a 10  to15 kilometer diameter asteroid impacting on earth during the dinosaur age.

This extinction level event forever changed the geology of the region, giving way to one of the largest underground river systems in the world.

The waters flooding this system are said to be sacred to the Maya. When you traverse one of these caverns, you can easily see why. The visibility and beauty of the place always take your breath away.

But there is also a dark side to this beauty. Danger and risk are always present when exploring these waters. Going through narrow crevasses, in deep, dark places, even with extraordinary visibility, is an experience not suitable for the faint-hearted or for the claustrophobic.

To safely journey through this system, even under ideal conditions, takes years of dive experience and a healthy set of stones.

If you have ever been in a broken elevator or a closed bathroom (and you can’t get out), you have a close sense of the emotional urgency and immediacy of that “Let me out!!” feeling. It’s creepy being trapped, without knowing how long it will take to be “rescued”.

If this has happened to you, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that the wait ALWAYS seems to take forever, right?

And that’s in dry ground, with ample lighting and resources for your eventual rescue.

Now take that same feeling of being trapped and place it deep inside a pitch black, wet cave, 4 miles from the entrance, where your only sustenance is water.  Add to that water levels threatening to drown you at any moment.

Sort of puts things in perspective, huh?

Here’s how they all pulled it off…

What these kids, their coach and their rescuers faced was probably one of the most terrifying experiences that anyone could endure. And they faced this not for one hour, or one day or one week. They endured it for nearly 17 days. In such dangerous and adverse conditions that Saman Kunan, a 38-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL, died of asphyxiation on 6 July on his return to the cave entrance after delivering supplies of air to the interior.

On the danger scale, 1 being safest and 10 being the most dangerous, The Than Luan cave was flat-out 10. Not only for its natural geological configuration, a huge challenge in itself, but also for the difficult weather conditions which the cave system experienced during the actual rescue.

Bittersweet endings…

In the end, however, through incredible faith, courage, skill and human ingenuity, the 12 children and their coach were rescued last Tuesday, July 10. And after a week of rest and recovery, they have made their first public appearance, forever grateful for the support and dedication of everyone involved in their rescue.

Saman KumanEspecially Saman Kuman, whose sacrifice speaks volumes of the better side of human compassion, dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness.

In a world so full of hatred, anger, and conflict, it is comforting to know that mankind can still shine a very brightly, even in undeniable dark and uncertain times.

Let’s pause for a moment and revel in the accomplishments of these real heroes and take their example whenever we, in our daily humdrum, face adversity and challenges. Their unwavering spirit and resolute attitude should be an inspiration to us all for years to come.

For another account of incredible heroism and grit, you can also check out one of my all-time heroes right here…

In conclusion…

What makes someone a hero? What characteristics do you think make them stand apart? Forget the Avengers! These divers and these kids and their coach…they are the real deal.

Everyday people doing extraordinary things. Do you know anyone that inspires you and is your hero? Please share your experience in the comment box below. I would love to be inspired by your story!

Tks for reading and talk soon!

 

Every moment counts…the awesome power of “Kairos”.

Opportune moments…Zak Noyle.

Hey sentinels!

Question for you: have you ever had a defining moment in your life? An instant, so powerful, so transformational, that it becomes a before-and-after moment, forever altering your journey?

Enter Hawaiian water photographer Zak Noyle.

Zak is considered one of the best extreme photographers in the world. He currently lives on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. From an early age, his father, Ric Noyle, also an experienced photographer, encouraged Zak to take up photography. By the time Zak was a freshman at Punahou School, he had already published his works in ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Transworld Surf. In 2015, at age 25, he was made senior staff photographer of Surfer Magazine and has been actively involved with the magazine since then.

Code Red…

In February of 2016, one of the largest swells to ever hit the North Shore of O’ahu arrived at Waimea Bay, just in time for The Eddie, one of surfing’s most emblematic and traditional big wave riding events in the world.

The Eddie, formerly known as the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, was an event which Zak had followed both in and out of the water for some time.

This morning, though, what he would experience would forever change his life, both as a photographer and as a skilled waterman.

As he made his way to the famous bay, reports on how big and massive the swell was getting began to show up in local radio stations. By the time he arrived at Waimea Bay, the waves were so enormous and powerful, local authorities had even considered postponing the event.

But everything was all set up, thousands having come from around the world to watch the event. With the assistance of wave runners, Zak was able to arrive quickly at the lineup.

But the behemoth closeouts forced him and his crew out to the shore on more than one occasion.

The arrival of Kairos…

He decided that the best way not to miss a moment of the event was to swim back to the lineup.

Zak would spend the next eight hours, without food or water, braving waves at times exceeding 50+ feet.

Following is an account I found in Surfline.com describing Zak’s experience on that harrowing day.

Zak experienced Kairos (pronounced “Kiros”): an ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, opportune moment. A particular moment when a drastic change takes place.

As Zak explains in his incredible account that day: everyone was saying that it was just too big to go out. He tried hard to remain in his “zone”; and in a moment of Kairos, he made a decision that would change his life forever.

As a result of his courageous decision, Zak was able to take some of the heaviest images ever taken during this legendary event.

Kairos in your life…

Now, in your life, your Kairos moment doesn’t have to be as dramatic or dangerous as Zak’s experience.

Kairos is a very personal affair, and how and when it arrives in our lives is very different for each of us. In fact, you may even experience a few Kairos moments in your life. This is not unheard of.

In my personal journey, I’ve had two such moments: creating my first website and posts, and, another much more personal moment: the passing away of my father.

These particular moments created drastic changes in my life.

Creating my first website, surfsentinel.net, was of particular professional and personal relevance. It got me hooked on blogging and made me an avid learner and creator of digital marketing content.

It was transformational since I finally knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life:

  • Putting my writing skills to good use.
  • Writing about a subject I am passionate about.
  • Sharing this journey with my audience.
  • Publish the best content possible.
  • Help my audience in any way I can to make their lives happier, balanced and more meaningful.

In regards to my father’s passing, suffice to say that I learned that life is to be lived and enjoyed in the present. His integrity and work ethic will continue to be my daily source of inspiration for years to come.

Have you experienced Kairos? When and where did these moments of drastic change happen to you? What did you learn from them? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. I read all comments and will gladly answer, share and discuss this fascinating subject with you.

Thank you for reading. Un abrazo!