The Search For La Cueva De Oro
By Robert Hubbrd
For Blake Altman
The hot Arizona sun beat down as three people stepped off the airplane, the eight-year-old girl wearing a pink backpack and the two men pulling suitcases. This was Bob Altman, Cristal Altman, and Rob Hubbard, treasure hunters from Washington State.
“Daddy, can we get some pizza?” Cristal asked Bob, tugging at his sleeve. “There’s lots of choices for what kind of pizza you want!”
“Sure, Cristal, we’ll get some pizza in just a second!” Bob answered his daughter. “Is that all right with you, Rob?” he asked.
“Sure, I actually feel like a jalapeño cheese pizza myself!” Rob replied.
“Well, you sure don’t look like one!” Cristal laughed.
The three headed over to the pizza stand. They ordered their pizzas and sat down at a table.
“After we’re done eating, we should get to the purpose of this mission,” Bob said as a waiter set their pizzas in front of them. “Remember, we only have three days to find the cave.”
“What cave?” Cristal asked.
“Don’t you remember, Cristal?” Bob questioned. “I told you last night.”
“I was too tired.” Cristal responded.
“I’ll tell it.” Rob said. “About one hundred years ago, there was a man named-”
He was interrupted by Cristal crying, “Spicy! Spicy! Spicy!”
“Sorry, Cristal, that’s my pizza!” Rob said switching their pizzas. “I have jalapeño peppers on mine!”
As Bob got up to get a glass of water for Cristal, he noticed a man sitting at the table next to them. He seemed to be listening their conversation. But he brushed it off and walked back to their table. He sat down and handed the water to Cristal. Then Rob went on with his story.
“As I was saying, about one hundred years ago, a man named Joshua Harmon lived around here in Phoenix. One day, he was walking in the desert and saw a large hole in a cliff. He climbed up and found that it was a cave. He climbed inside and found the cave full of gold nuggets. He took three large pieces of gold and climbed back down the cliff. There, Mr. Harmon somehow sealed up the cave’s entrance. This cave, called La Cueva De Oro is what we are looking for.”
“Cool!” said Cristal, enjoying her cheese pizza.
“You think you’re gonna find that cave?!” A voice came from behind them. Rob turned around. The owner of the pizza restaurant stood there. “That’s just an old legend!” he scoffed. “You can search all you want, but you’ll never find it!” With that, he stomped away.
“Sorry, Cristal.” Bob said. “Some people just don’t believe that the legend is true. But we do, at least Rob and I do.”
Cristal stood up, her pizza finished. “Where’re we gonna sleep?” she asked.
“We already have two hotel rooms booked out for us to sleep in tonight.” Rob said. “It’s only a few miles away.” The three exited the restaurant and found a taxi to take them to their hotel. When they got there, the sun was beginning to slip behind the hills beyond Phoenix. Cristal got in bed, but the two men stayed up talking.
“I hope that Dave Parker and his team haven’t been following us.” Bob said. “For once I just want a vacation without him!”
“I know what you mean.” Rob agreed. “It seems like everywhere we go, they are there too!”
Dave Parker was the leader of the villainous Black Cobra Treasure Hunters team. He tried to steal the treasures that Rob, Bob, and Cristal found. He also liked to play tricks on them. Once, he even made a fake treasure map for them to follow while he found the real treasure.
“Well, even if he is here, he won’t get this treasure!” Bob said firmly.
“You’re right.” Rob agreed. “He’s probably not even here though!”
But, unfortunately, they were wrong. A few blocks away, at a small private airport, a large black jet with the name Black Cobra painted in red letters on the side was parked. Inside no one was asleep. Dave Parker sat on a chair inside, talking to John Malina, one of his workers.
“So, you saw them at the restaurant talking about the cave?” Dave asked.
“Yes. They were telling their ridiculous little girl about the legend of La Cueva De Oro.”
“I already know the story of the cave! Now get to the point!” Dave snapped.
“I’ve followed them to their hotel a few blocks away. They seem to be going somewhere tomorrow. They only took that silly little girl’s backpack with them!”
“All right. Tomorrow morning, I want you to follow them. You might just pick up some more clues.”
When the sun came up, Rob, Bob, and Cristal were all ready for the day’s adventure. As soon as they were dressed, they packed a lunch and were on their way. After walking a few blocks, they noticed a sign which read: Private Desert Tours 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. .
“Let’s go on a desert tour!” Cristal said.
“I think that we maybe could.” Rob said thoughtfully. “We would have a better chance of finding the cave if we knew our way around.”
“I’ll ask how much a tour is.” Bob said. He strode over to the ticket booth. “Excuse me, how much is a private tour for two adults and one child?” he asked.
“A two-hour tour is $25.00, and a four-hour tour would be $50.00.” the woman inside the booth said.
“I think we want to take the four-hour tour.” Bob said to the woman, handing her a fifty-dollar bill.
“All right, we have just one more tour open this morning.” the woman said. “Your guide will be Joe Peterson. He’s been working here for about twenty years.”
The trio walked through the small door that the woman opened. A young man met them.
“Hello, I’ll be your guide for today.” he said. “I’m Joseph Peterson, but you can call me Joe.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Joe.” Rob said, shaking Joe’s hand. “I’m Robert Hubbard, and this is Bob and Cristal Altman.”
“Hello, Mr. Hubbard! Hello, Mr. Altman! Hi, Miss Cristal!” Joe said friendlily. “Today we’ll be going on a four-hour tour across the Sonoran Desert. We might see all kinds of creatures! Jackrabbits, roadrunners, maybe even a javelina!”
“What’s a javelina?” Cristal asked.
“A javelina is like a furry pig.” Joe said. “They live around here.”
Just then, a man dressed in a black t-shirt came up to them.
“Hello, are more tours open today?” he asked impatiently.
“I’m sorry, but this is the last private tour.” Joe replied.
The man stomped away, scowling.
“Before we begin the tour,” Rob said. “We were wondering if you know anything about the legend of La Cueva De Oro?”
“Actually, I was going through some old papers yesterday, and I found a very old note. I think I have it here in my pocket.” Joe pulled a short, yellowed slip of paper from his jeans pocket and held it up.
Bob read the words written on it in faint letters aloud. “In the middle of the desert, find the turtle’s tail. Then, climb to the top to find the entrance. When all seems lost, pull the rope, where the treasure within is revealed.”
“I think the paper must be talking about La Cueva De Oro.” Joe said. “How it got into my office, and who wrote it, I don’t know.” With that, he pocketed the paper and led them to a jeep. “This is the jeep that we’ll be riding in for our tour!”
“It looks like a Jurassic World™ Jeep!” Cristal said.
Joe laughed. “It’s just an old jeep that we’ve been using for about fifty years!”
“It still looks cool, though!” Cristal responded.
They all climbed into the jeep. Joe started the engine, and the vehicle sped out of a small door into the Sonoran Desert.
The tour was so much fun, it felt like it took one hour, instead of four! Along the way, they saw cacti, rock formations, and all sorts of wildlife. Once, they even saw a gila monster padding along the base of a large saguaro cactus. But, all too soon, the jeep pulled back into the small walled tour area.
“Thanks for the tour, Joe.” Bob said as they slid out of the jeep. “It was very fun.”
“Yes, I loved seeing that gila monster!” Rob said.
“I had fun taking you guys!” Joe replied cheerfully.
“We never did see a javelina!” Cristal said sadly.
“Don’t worry, Cristal.” Joe said sympathetically. “I’ve worked here twenty-three years, and I’ve only seen one twice!”
Later that day at the hotel, Rob and Bob were getting Cristal ready for bed, when Cristal remembered something. “Daddy, today when you were reading that paper that Joe found, that man that was talking to Joe came closer to us, like he was listening to what the paper said!”
Bob looked at Rob. “Maybe Dave and his men are here after all.”
The next morning, Rob and Bob’s suitcases and Cristal’s backpack were all packed up to leave that evening. But first, they had four hours to spend looking for La Cueva De Oro. They caught a taxi and were soon at the edge of the desert.
“I don’t know what the note meant by a turtle.” Cristal said thoughtfully.
“Maybe it meant a petroglyph shaped like a turtle.” Rob suggested. “Wait! Joe showed us some petroglyphs yesterday. Maybe we can find one shaped like a turtle!”
“I think you’re right, Rob.” Bob said thoughtfully. “Let’s go check them out!”
Rob pulled out his cell phone. “According to my phone, the petroglyphs are 2.4 miles away.”
“This is going to be a long walk!” Bob stated.
About an hour later, the trio finally hiked up the hill to where the petroglyphs were.
“It was much faster in the jeep!” Cristal groaned.
“At least we’re here!” Bob said wearily.
They all studied the petroglyphs.
“I can’t find a turtle anywhere!” Cristal cried.
“We can’t find one either.” Bob said. “Well, we tried. Let’s look for another hour or two before we give up, though.”
“I’m hungry!” Cristal said. “Can we eat our lunch first?”
“Well, treasure hunters can’t think on an empty stomach!” Rob said teasingly.
“Can we sit on that big boulder up there?” Cristal asked. “Wait. There’s a man standing up there.”
“Let’s walk over and say hello.” Bob said.
They walked over to a rock hill and climbed up to the boulder. The man was gone.
“Well, I guess we can eat our lunch here.” Rob said doubtfully. “But I wonder where that man disappeared to.” Cristal opened her backpack and handed everyone a bag of chocolate covered pretzels, an apple, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“I’ll say the prayer.” Rob said. “Dear God, thank you for this food that we are about to eat. Thank you for the desert that we are in. Please help this food to nourish our bodies. Amen.”
Cristal took a big bite of her sandwich. “Hey, guys. Is that a javelina down there?” She pointed at a black furry shape darting through the desert below them.
“Actually, Cristal, I think it is.” Bob said.
“It does look furry.” Cristal giggled as the shape started to run away from the hill.
She got up and climbed down the rock, shouting “Come back! Come back!”
“Cristal, come back here!” Bob called.
Cristal turned around. Her eyes grew big as she stared at them. “The turtle!” she cried.
“You found it!!??” Bob cried, sliding down from the rock with Rob not far behind him. “Where?”
“Right there!” Cristal pointed at the boulder that they had been sitting on. From that angle, the boulder looked perfectly like a turtle’s head.
They all scrambled back up the rock. Right behind where they had been sitting was a large rock. Rob pushed it aside and uncovered a small hole.
“I’ll crawl in to see if it’s safe.” Bob said. He dropped his sandwich and quickly crawled through the entrance. Soon, Bob’s voice came through the narrow hole. “Come in.”
Cristal crawled through the hole, pulling her backpack after her. Rob came through last. They found themselves in a large cavern, without a speck of gold.
“There’s nothing.” Cristal said sadly.
“No, Cristal, remember that the note said to find the turtle’s tail. If the head is out there…” Rob pointed towards the small entrance. “The tail should be right there.” He pointed towards a single stalagmite at the end of the cavern.
“The stalagmite sort of looks like a turtle tail.” Cristal said excitedly.
They walked over to the stalagmite. “The note said to climb up.” Bob said. He looked above them. A large ledge loomed over them. “I guess we just have to find our way to that ledge.”
They all hunted for a way to get up to the ledge.
“There’s holes in the rock like a ladder over here.” Rob called.
Bob and Cristal ran over to him. “You’re right.” Cristal said. She began to climb them before Bob could stop her. Bob and Rob quickly began climbing after her. At the top, they stopped for a second.
“Cristal,” Bob said firmly. “Always let us go first or ask our permission if you want to go first.”
Then they walked over to the large hole on the other side of the ledge and walked through. Inside was another gigantic cavern, but this also had no gold.
“I’m getting confused.” Bob said. “Where is the gold?”
There was a noise behind them. They all turned around. Dave Parker stepped out of the shadows.
“I’ve finally caught you, Bob and Rob. And that horrible little girl of yours.” He pointed a gun at Rob. “Tell me where the gold is! And be quick about it.”
Rob looked firmly at Dave. “I won’t ever let you and your men get this treasure.”
“You won’t? Oh yes you will! And if you don’t¬–” he pointed the gun at a rope. “–I’ll send this cavern crashing down!” Dave laughed evilly. “So, tell me. Where is the gold?”
Rob looked at the rope. It was stretched across a large crack in the ceiling. If broken, the cave’s ceiling would collapse.
Then, his eyes fell on another piece of rope sticking out of rock. The note came to his mind. When all seems lost, pull the rope, where the treasure within is revealed.
“I’m not telling you!” he shouted at Dave.
“Oh yeah?” Dave smirked. He pulled the trigger on the gun. Rob ran over to the rope sticking out of the rock, just as the bullet split the other rope that was holding the ceiling up.
“Quick, guys!” he shouted as another crack split across the ceiling. He pulled the rope as hard as he could. There was a grinding noise as the rock slid aside. There then came another noise: the sound of the ceiling collapsing.
The three dove into the hole that the rock had uncovered. They crawled through the narrow tunnel and found themselves in a cavern full of gold nuggets. The light–wherever it came from¬–reflected off the gold, making it seem like the cavern was glowing.
Just then, Dave Parker crawled through the hole. Scowling angrily, he advanced towards them.
“You think all this gold is yours, right?” he asked “But it’s mine. You know why? Because you’re not getting out of here.” With that, he ran towards Rob, trying to grab him.
Quickly, Cristal took off her backpack and threw it right in front of Dave. Dave tried to stop but it was too late. He tripped over the backpack and with a loud cry rolled over an unseen cliff. A few seconds later, there was a loud splash below.
“Great work, Cristal!” Bob said. “Let’s get out of here!”
“Wait!” Rob cried suddenly. He picked up several large golden nuggets and placed them in Cristal’s backpack. He zipped it up and carried it over to the tunnel.
“I want to carry it!” Cristal begged.
“Sorry Cristal, It’s too heavy for you.” Rob said.
They crawled through the tunnel and came out where the giant cavern used to be. Now, all that was left of it were hundreds of pieces of broken rock and a tangled mess of rope.
“Now there’s no sign that there ever was a cave here!” Cristal said, amazed.
“I’m going to cover this opening here up.” Bob said. He pushed a large rock in front of the entrance of the tunnel. “There. Now, La Cueva De Oro will still be hidden.”
Rob looked at his watch. “We better hurry and get going, or we’ll be late to the airport!”
“Let’s go!” Cristal cried, skipping over the rubble towards the hotel.