08/31/2011 11:32 am ET | Updated Oct 31, 2011

The Story of Adelita: A (Very) Long Distance Love Affair (With a Sea Turtle)

In 1992 I met Adelita for the first time. I had no idea how old she was or where she was from. But there was this mystique about her. Something special. Sometimes you can just feel it. Her skin was brown, her eyes big and black. We spent summers together in Baja. I bathed her, fed her, watched her. When we first met, she weighed about 180 lbs. By the summer of 1996, I knew it was time for us to part. She had grown to be 223 lbs. She had to go. She didn't tell me she had to go, but I could tell by the way she rubbed her head on the western wall, never paying a bit of attention to the east.

In August 1996 the day came. We drove across the peninsula to a small town called Santa Rosaliita. Despite being summer, it was windy and cold. We huddled in the shade, out of the wind. We drank beers. I pulled out the gun and made a small mound of epoxy on her back. I set a small cellphone size transmitter with a short antenna into the epoxy. And we waited. And we drank more beer. Adelita and I got into a small boat, called a panga, with our fishermen friends. We motored several miles out into the ocean. I held her. When the moment to say goodbye forever came, things happened so quickly. I lifted her up, she slid over the side, there was a splash, she was gone.

Back on land I'd review the video tape of her final moments with me again and again, forward and reverse, slow motion and double speed. It seemed like she hesitated just for a moment. Second thoughts about leaving. Thoughts about turning back to me.

Then, no. A few strong strokes and she slipped away into the deep blue.

Every time I watch that tape I wonder, what was she thinking. Right then. That moment. That hesitation. You can see it clearly in her body. Then gone.

I didn't know where Adelita was going. But I can tell you that she most certainly did. With every cell in her body.

Hear the whole story below.

From In Living Landscapes Storytelling Expeditions.