Our first stop is in the Galapagos Islands, and for the women, this is simply a story, but for the men, it is a warning. If you ever find yourself in the Galapagos, specifically the Baltra Island, be careful. The Headless Gringa only comes after men.
She moves with the shadows. A man sleeps deeply in his military cot. Unheard, she climbs on top of him, slowly pressing all of her weight onto his chest. His dreams darken as his lungs crush under the weight that continues to increase. He struggles to breathe but then wakes with a start. But there is nobody there. The mysterious woman and he knows it was a woman, is nowhere to be found. In the morning, he mentions this to his fellow naval servicemen. They reply with, “That’s the ghost of the headless gringa! You’re lucky to be alive!”
The sun-drenched island of Baltra seems like a very unlikely place for a ghost, so you might be surprised to find out that it’s the most haunted place in the Galapagos. Baltra was home to a US airbase during the 1940s. The American military worried that the vitality strategic Panama Canal would be captured or attacked by the Japanese. They wanted a place where they could put an air force base that could protect the canal and give warning of an invasion. The Galapagos Islands was the perfect place, and the US made a quick deal with the Republic of Ecuador. Americans built a runway and several hastily-built barracks and administration buildings. Some remain today and are even used by the Ecuadorian air force and navy.
The US base could house thousands of men, had two runways, a dock loaded with water and fuel reserves, some munitions bunkers, and even a bowling alley, movie theater, and casino. The presence of the US on Baltra Island wasn’t without reason. And this is where the story of the headless gringa begins.
Legend has it that during the brief time of the US military presence in the Galapagos, there was an incident that occurred on the base. A soldier with an unusually short fuse exploded when he discovered that his girlfriend cheated on him. The angry boyfriend pushed his girlfriend off of the steep cliffs that lined the island. In the process of the fall, she lost her head. The soldier covered up the murder by telling everybody that she had gone swimming and didn’t come back…