Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - Santa Cruz Island: Black Turtle Cove / Baltra to Quito

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Panga ride at Black Turtle Cove

At six o'clock on the dot Juan herded us in the pangas for one last visitor site, Caleta Tortuga Negra. Black Turtle Cove is located on northern Santa Cruz, and is conveniently close to the airport on Baltra Island, our next stop. We went on a panga ride through a quiet, mangrove-lined cove. The panga drivers turned off the motors and paddled through the cove, where we saw beautiful spotted eagle rays, other rays, and giant marine turtles - two of them mating! Only yachts with 16 passengers or less get to stop here. It was a peaceful and serene ending to our Galapagos adventure.

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Spotted eagle rays

When we reboarded Cachalote, breakfast was on the table. We changed into our civilization clothes, brought up the luggage, and pangaed away one last time. We left the boat at 8:15 and were at the airport by 8:25. Juan, always our little shepherd, gathered our passports and took them to get the Galapagos stamp. He's actually traveling on our plane as far as Guayaquil, where he's going to do some shopping on the mainland before guiding his next trip.

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Adios, Cachalote

Our flight left Baltra at 10:45 and arrived in Quito at 2:45. Yuck, pollution again. I'd gotten spoiled by all the clean air. We said our goodbyes to the last of our group outside luggage claim and took a taxi back to Hotel Cayman. That's funny - it had been $10 for a ride when we first arrived in Quito, $7 to get to the airport, and now $3 to return to the hotel again. Cheaper each time. If we stay much longer, they'll be paying us.

We checked back in, got our laundry done, sent some email, and were looking for a pharmacy to get Tom some sinus meds. While we were out, we ran into a fellow Cachalote passenger looking for a place to stay and walked with her to our hotel, where she booked a room for a couple of nights. She invited us out for a beer, but we weren't done with our errands yet. In retrospect, we should have had the cerveza.

Finally we found a pharmacy, where Tom made his purchase and we left. We hadn't gone a block when I sensed someone following us. I stepped up our pace and half turned to look at this guy, and he knew he'd been had. What was going to probably be a simple pickpocketing then turned into a mugging. The guy, who I'll call Dick, tackled Tom onto the ground. Tom fought back and yelled "Policia!" and a few more colorful phrases. I saw this big guy had my husband on the ground and went berserk. I jumped on his back, had one arm around his neck, and was punching him with my other fist. I was also yelling "Git!" I'm so articulate under stress.

Dick, unfortunately, was not to be dissuaded. He completely ignored me, held Tom down with one arm, and actually managed to reach around Tom, rip his denim jeans open with one hand, and grab the wallet out through the bottom of his pocket. Once Dick had what he was after, he stood up, Tom and I went flying off like fleas, and he ran down the street. Tom attempted to run after him but was disoriented and tripped over a curb after just a few steps. There were lots of people around, but no one attempted to assist us. One gentleman pulled up in his car right after everything was over and said he'd heard Tom yelling, but Dick was long gone by then.

Luckily, Dick robbed us at the one time during the whole trip when we carried neither our passports nor cameras. We were both fine, more mad than anything. Tom got a few scrapes from wrestling with Dick on the ground, and I got a bruise on my arm (where I hit the guy, I think) and a little tender spot on my forehead from when Dick stood up and I went flying. Anyway, what are you gonna do? We went back to the hotel so Tom could change into jeans that still had a butt in them, and we went out for pizza.

 

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