“Senorita! You like my bracelets?” The young caramel-skinned man scurried behind me as I labored through hot, deep, sand, eager to catch the water taxi to Pelican Rock.

“No hoy, gracias,” I replied, grateful for the few Spanish phrases I could recite without thinking. The silver gleaming from his briefcase looked inviting, but at that particular moment, nothing could deter me from exploring the beaches along the Sea of Cortes.

Nothing, with the possible exception of wading thigh-high into the undertow of a receding tide to climb a couple boat ladder steps and literally fall aboard the wildly-rocking 12-passenger “glass-bottomed boat.” But I made it in without breaking anything, and felt quite proud of myself until I realized I’d have to clamber on and off the boat under the same rollicking conditions three more times before I returned back to my hotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

It was a test of my agility, and at 56 with two arthritic knees, I’m about as agile as a water buffalo toe dancing through a 15-foot snow bank. Before we beached at the first stop, I gave myself a good swift kick in the butt and a pep talk that would rival any speech ever given by Yogi Berra.

“Even if you fall in, you won’t drown, there’s too much salt. You might suffocate, but you won’t drown.” “You’ve a better chance of being hijacked by terrorists than of being smashed between the hulls of two boats competing to beach on the same narrow strip of sand—unless the terrorists are driving the boats.” “When’s the last time you updated your will? Cause if your papers aren’t in order, you’ll have to fix them before you can die.”

None of it made any sense—but my little hysterical pep talk made me laugh. Abject fear does that to a person. I started laughing like crazy, and rushed to jump off the hull at the first stop with only a little assistance, charging through the crashing surf like I was storming Normandy Beach.

I slept well that night, thoroughly exhausted by what I now refer to as “The Sand and Surf Aerobics.” The little guy with the briefcase full of silver called out to me in a dream, “Almost free! Almost free!” and I smiled at him, shaking my head. “Not almost free,” I told him,  “Yo hoy totalmente gratis!” Which, the way I butcher the Spanish language, means: “Today I was totally free!”