Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Paying for the privilege of being mugged

When in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, we were approached at the dinghy dock by a character named
Eddie offering transportation for customs, shopping, where ever we needed to go. That sounded great
since the southwest corner of PR has no car rental agencies, no taxis, no public transportation of any kind.

We used Eddie's services to go shopping in Mayaguez ($40 for 1.5 hours) from Boqueron.  We then moved Horizon here to La Paguera (8 miles as the crow flies) where we are having our diesel engine rebuilt.  Cate was flying back to the states so we called Eddie for transport to the airport in San Juan. We paid $220 for him to take us both to San Juan and bring me back to Horizon after dropping Cate at the airport.  Since he had lived in San Juan for 12 years before moving to Boqueron, he gave a great tour that was almost 12 hours in all.

For both those trips we had no problem with Eddie.  He was a bit of an aggressive driver but being from NY we expected that and he was talkative and seemed eager to please.  At that point we were extremely happy with Eddie and tipped appropriately to show our appreciation.

When Cate returned a week later, our arrangement was for him to pick up me on the way to San Juan airport. I verified by phone the day before. Eddie forgot to pick me up.  When I finally called, he showed up about 30 minutes late and seemed unhappy he had to backtrack to get me.  On the 2 hour trip to San Juan he used only one or two word replies. I paid him the $160 for that day's round trip and he dropped me off at the airport to wait.

When Cate arrived she called Eddie to pick us up and he showed up about 5 minutes later.  He had the radio cranked up high and did not open the trunk for us to put in Cate's bags so we started to load us and bags into the back seat. Before Cate was fully in he started driving forward. Cate's foot caught on the curb twisting her body out of the car where her other foot dropped in front of his rear wheel. We were both screaming and he did stop before doing permanent harm.  He jumped out and was bent over Cate sobbing how sorry he was.  I tried to find out if Cate was injured but could not hear her over his radio. I told him to turn the radio down.  He ignored that so I screamed at him to turn the fuc**ng radio down. He ignored that too so I started to reach in to do it myself.  At that, he grabbed me in a chokehold, his fingers squeezing harder and harder shouting "no one touches my radio".  Cate was screaming from the ground and pulling at Eddie and he finally let go of me.  He then wanted us to get in the car... Cate said "you try to kill my husband and you expect us to ride back with you?"  We pulled the bags out of the back seat and hobbled to the taxi stand.  In our hurry to get away we forgot a $120 CO2 tank we had put in his car. We ended up paying another $185 for a licensed taxi to take us home to La Parguera.

We texted Eddie to ask him to leave the CO2 tank at a Boqueron bar where it would be picked up but his response was "After what u posted on Facebook u really think I'm going to bring the tank? LOL u must b nuts". That was obviously in response to a short post Cate had put on Women Who Sail forum. It only gave a broad brush description of what happened and was more in the vein of "be careful out there". No more soda making on board for us it seems :(

Cate has a scuffed left heel, the pivot point that pulled her body out of the back seat. Her left knee has a big bulbous bruise where it hit the curb, and her right foot that was partly under the rear wheel
is hurting. I have a bit of a fingerprint necklace bruise.

All we can figure is that Eddie either had a psychotic break or was off whatever meds may have kept him stable before. We felt lucky to get off with only some bruising that will go away with time.

We can only suggest that if you are in Borqueron and a guy named Eddie driving a white Mitsubishi, wearing a Gilligan hat and missing his 4 bottom front teeth offers a ride, think very carefully about how you will react if he turns on you.  Be prepared.

This is the first time we have had any real safety problems in our time cruising.  Even in Boca Chica
Dominica Republic when the guy swam to our boat and climbed aboard we never felt in real physical danger.  This event has really shaken us up.