In February 2017, Suha A was travelling with her husband in Oman when they decided to visit Wadi Shab, a site famous for emerald pools and plunging cascades. After a short boat ride and an hour’s hike, Suha and her husband swam into a cave through a small crack in the rock face to see the site’s most spectacular waterfall, a place she described as ‘gorgeous’, reported the Canadian channel CTV News.
Suha told the Canadian news channel that she felt exhausted as soon as she entered the cave. The current, she later learned, had intensified because of recent rainfall.
She added that a small group of visitors to the wadi was exiting at the same time, but one woman decided to linger a little longer in the vicinity.
“I tried to rest by finding some kind of ledge or something on the wall, but it was extremely smooth and slimy at the same time,” Suha said. “I just told my husband, ‘I can’t, I can’t.’” Struggling against the fast-moving water, Suha tried in vain to reach a rope placed near the waterfall. “At that point, I just started drowning,” she said. “The water was too strong. I panicked.”
Suha said she was ready to give up. Her husband, meanwhile, was fighting against the tumultuous water too. Watching her falter, he shouted for help.
That’s when the stranger leapt into action. “She swam over to me like a bullet,” Suha said. “I started swallowing water instead of breathing and then she pulled me out, and the next thing I remember is I was on my back, floating… . She swam me out of the tiny little crack.”
Clinging to a rope outside the cave, she called after her departing rescuer. “As she was swimming away to the land, I just said, ‘What’s your name?’ and she said, ‘Patrizia,’” Suha recalled. “And I said, ‘Where are you from?’ and she said, ‘Switzerland,’ and then that was the last I saw of her.”
The shock of the incident still lingers to this day, Suha said, and she never stopped thinking about the woman who saved her life.
“If it weren’t for her, honestly, we would have died for sure. Because there was no one else and it’s literally in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, there’s nothing.”
A year and a half later, as Suha’s husband was about to head to Munich, Germany, for a conference, Suha decided that she finally wanted to track down her saviour. “Switzerland is right next to Germany. So I told myself I’m just going to go for it,” Suha said.
After sharing her story online on Facebook and Reddit two weeks ago, Suha reached out to three Swiss news outlets. Soon after, a friend of Patrizia’s read one of those stories and helped connect the two women.
On August 24, Suha finally met Patrizia in Zurich, Switzerland. She learnt that Patrizia has rarely spoken about that fateful day. She also discovered that Patrizia learned her life-saving skills as a member of a swim club.
“I’ve already invited her back to Canada,” Suha said. “I gave her maple syrup and another gift, just as a token from Canada. We hit it off immediately.”
In another stroke of fate, both women, aged 33, learnt that they share the same birthday.