Episode 7

How Leo Got There


Meanwhile, after flying to Africa and compiling the data from the locations he had visited, Vector is in Leo’s patio discussing which mines they should invest in with Leo. Leo has the folders of the mines next to him on the patio table “Looking over the spreadsheets of the mines in Africa, mining operation D looks like the best to go with. Followed by A. But, I happened to look at what they are like in 2022 and mining operation H is doing good compared to the others” Leo said. “Mine H must have hit a big vein. There were some indicators suggesting that might be the case from the data that I collected” said Vector. “Mine H has the most potential, so that will be on top of the list followed by D and then A” said Leo placing the H folder back on the table.


“Changing the subject, Flo tells me she, Artemesia and Velidia are going to take golf lessons at the Flamingo Country Club and wanted me to do the same” Leo said. “Funny you should mentioned that, Artemesia asked me the same thing earlier, I told her I would” said Vector with a smile. “Well, looks like I’m going to take up golf too. So I’m going to gets some clubs before next week” Leo said getting up from his chair. “I got a set of Ping’s yesterday and going to take lessons from a different pro, then the one who will be teaching the girls. Why don’t you join me” asked Vector. “You know I think I will. Where and when are you going to take your lessons” Leo said with a look of pause and concentration.


“At the Emerald Forest Country Club every Thursday at 3 pm for 5 weeks. We can go in one car if schedule permits” answered Vector. “Can you let the pro there know I will be joining you” Leo said while looking over a set of papers regarding the land he is about to purchase. “Will do about the lessons, I’m going over to New Zealand in an hour and work on my place” said Vector. “Ok” mentioned Leo as he got up and said “Going over to the realtor’s office, the realtor and I are going to do a walk through of the property I want to start a farm at. Let’s talk some more after you get back from New Zealand about the gold mines.”


Miguel the realtor was driving over to the property in his 4x4 truck and Leo was jotting down notes that he had in mind. The property was an hour’s drive from Panama City and there was water and power nearby at the location. After taking a few pictures of the main entrance, they parked at an open area. They could see a few different dirt roads going in varies directions. Miguel got out the plot plan and topo maps of the area and said “That road leads to the forest area” pointing at the road. Then pointing to the other roads and giving a description of where and what they lead too.


Miguel mentioned they would start on the road to the forest, then the one that followed the river before taking the one to the foothills. Leo would take pictures of interest to show Flo after he got back. Returning to the open area at the entrance to the property Leo said he was interested and would make an offer in a few days after consulting with his engineers. With the tour complete Miguel replied “That will be fine, shall will go back to Panama City.”


On their way back to town, Miguel asked “Have you been in Panama long.” Leo mentioned “My wife and I just moved here about a couple of months ago, but we are familiar with Panama.” “If there is any land services you might be in need of, please give me a call and I might be able to help” Miguel said as he was looking forward and driving. “Thank you for your offer, I will keep that in mind” remarked Leo looking out at the landscape as he was remembering the sail over to Panama with Captain Montoya and Maria:


After being onboard for the night, the new day arrived and the crews were finishing up on last minute loadings. It was around noon and the breeze had picked up, when the shore lines were untied. Leonardo was on the starboard side of the ship waving good bye to a few of the dock workers who had untied the lines. Lieutenant Gonzales walking up to Leonardo says” is this your first time aboard a ship?” “yes sir” answered Leonardo, “My name is Lieutenant Martinez Gonzales but you can call me Martin” as he extended his hand in friendship.


Leonardo extended his hand and said “Leonardo Vi and you can call me Leo”. “Well Leo we will be seeing a lot of each during this voyage and if there are question that you might have, feel free to ask”

“I will do just that for there is many things about sailing I would like to learn” answered Leonardo. “What is that you do, I mean what kind of work do you do?”


“I’m a Cartographer and have been studying some astronomy on my spare time” remarked Leonardo. “What a coincidence I too am into astronomy, “I can see this will be an enlightening voyage for the both of us” answered Martin. As the La Rosa del Mar with the outgoing tide and the six longboats pulling her away from the docks, slowly moved into the channel. Once past the harbor, all the sails were unfurled and a sudden lunge as the sails filled, and the forward motion of the ship increased to a steady 5 knots.


By morning of the next day they were sailing through the straits of Gibraltar. The gusty morning breeze of the Atlantic suggested a North Sea gale was occurring in the higher latitudes. The pops of the canvas sails were heard, as they quickly filled and the speed of the ship increased to 10 knots. There were two helmsmen holding the course, as she pounded her way on a starboard tack. The crews on the mast yards hauled in the sheets for a better trim, as the Captain of the La Rosa del Mar saw an increase in speed to 12 knots.


"Hold her steady! Hold her steady!" Commanded Captain Fernandez. Sensing this would be top speed, he ordered to lay off course by a gradual 10 degrees. As they veered away from the wind, the speed decreased to 8 knots. The Captain then ordered the furling of the first two masts of their sails and reduced sail area to storm sails. "Just in case the storm passes by our course," he added. "Aye, Aye, Captain," confirmed the 1st Lieutenant.


"Just getting the feel of her rigging," the Captain mentioned to 1st Lieutenant Segovia. "She holds a trim well." replied the 1st Lieutenant, as he turned to his Master Chief, Jorge Madrid. "Yes she does," said Jorge. Lieutenant Gonzales took over as the Officer On Deck, as Captain Fernandez and Lieutenant Segovia retired to the Captain’s quarter to discuss the Rose’s sailing ability further. As the speed of the ship decreased, Maria stepped out to the upper deck of the stern, and sat on seating boxes that were next to the guard rails, her long auburn hair wafting back occasionally with the different gusts that would blow by.


Lieutenant Segovia had just finished his conversation with the Captain and noticed Maria alone on the Stern. He moved up the stairs and sat next to her, pointed towards the sea birds that were following the ship, and commented that they are out a long way to sea. Maria noticed, then politely agreed with his observation. As their conversation continued, and the wake of La Rosa del Mar disappeared into the choppy sea.


This began the first nightfall on the Atlantic, the lanterns were lit and the night watchmen made their rounds. In the main salon, where all official announcements are passed on, the passengers and the ship's officers had been invited to a “Welcome Onboard” ceremony. The chairs and tables had been relocated to the bulkheads and walls.


Doing so, left the main salon open for dancing within a space of 20 ft. x 20 ft. The main salon was below the Officer's Quarters, and it had a view of all sides looking aft. The reinforced window framing and materials made for a sturdy view. There was a small removable stage in the room. The two Troubadours were on stage with Lieutenant Segovia.


The Troubadours, having played for royalty and commoners alike, enjoyed the handsome pay they commanded, but stayed true to their family musical roots and played the music from their countryside. Federico Gamez was taller than Roberto Ricardo, but both were slender and charming. On this night, they were to accompany Lieutenant Segovia, who was privileged to have been trained with the guitar-like stringed instrument, the Vihuela, since his early childhood.


The Troubadours were tuning up, while Panfilo was playing a few warm up chords…which aroused the attention of Federico and Roberto. Roberto asked the Lieutenant, “Can you make her sing?” referring to the instrument. "As sure as the sky is blue!" boasted Panfilo, as they continued preparations. In the opposite corner of the room were Leonardo, Alfredo Sierra; the poet, and his wife Consuela, enjoying the gathering and conversation. Captains Fernandez, Montoya and Maria enter the salon.


Maria, seeing Lt. Segovia on stage and walked over to him. "Lieutenant Segovia," remarked Maria, "I didn’t know you played the vihuela!" "Yes,” he answered confidently, "As far back as I can remember." "Well," Maria replied, "I have sung at several gatherings before. Perhaps you would know a few songs that I know." She mentions a half dozen, and the Lieutenant responded back that he knew most of what she has mentioned, and offered that this should make for a special evening.


The Monsignor and Sister Teresa had arrived and were finding a place to sit along with the other guest. The Monsignor had been in his cabin or the guard rail most of the time. He had been sea sick since leaving the dock and was just now developing his sea legs. Sister Teresa faired better since she grew up in the fishing village of Cadiz where she often helped her family out on the water as well as selling in the marketplace. Being sensitive to the things of God she felt called to enter into the convent at an early age and rapidly grew in wisdom and stature.


Lieutenant Segovia began the ceremony with a brief introduction of himself and his two accompanying musicians. Going into the first song as he finished the introduction, a slow ballad of the sea, putting the room to ease with the lyrics and tune. Then, as the applause faded, he moved onto the next song, with an upbeat tempo, and had everyone tapping their feet. A few songs later everyone in the room knew they were in the company of a talented officer.


Waving to Maria to come up on stage, she nodded and moved towards him. "Ladies and Gentlemen... Senorita Montoya will be performing a song for your entertainment." As the Lieutenant met Maria halfway from the stage after making the announcement, he extended his hand for hers, and walked her back to the stage. She requested him to play one of the songs they both knew. Not knowing what to expect, the crowd lay silent as the performance unfolded. The Lieutenant began with a run of the frets, and Maria followed with the melody of the song. Her voice was smooth as the velvet trim on her dress that she was wearing that night. Panfilo was awe struck as he continued playing. There was magic in the air, and both felt it.


Song after song, the night flowed by with the audience enjoying every minute. A loud applause echoed in the salon as the two bowed to accept the appreciation of those in attendance. As the performance ended, both were overheated, and needing fresh air, excused themselves, and stepped outside. Standing next to the deck rail overlooking the moonlit sky, they began talking about their lives. The Troubadours took over the entertainment, the captains were in discussion, and Leonardo was being enlightened with the verses Alfredo was reciting, while Consuelo focused her attention on young Leonardo.


The music continued to play, as the lights from the salon shined on the wake of the ship as the milky reflection disappeared into the night. The morning's light followed the outskirt of night as the ship entered a new day. On deck were Sister Teresa and Consuela, talking about the night before and how entertaining it had been. Maria was below dressing after sleeping in past the morning meal, and then headed outside to begin her second day at sea. As Maria stepped out to the fresh morning air, Consuela called out to her, "There's our little song bird now. Come join us, my dear." As the crew were busy doing their work and other passengers were moving about.


"Good morning, ladies," Maria chimed back with happiness of heart in her voice. I'm afraid I slept in a bit." "Up late, were you?" The Sister said, knowing full well she and Panfilo talked until the wee hours of the night, according to the night watchmen just coming off duty at dawn. "Is it that obvious?" Maria unashamedly smiled back. "It's just obvious that there was more than music in the air last night," knowingly added Consuela. "You two make quite the handsome couple, not to mention the wonderful duets you sang last night."


Maria sighed, "It's times like this that I miss my mother the most. I want to share my feelings with her and ask her advice on matters of love and life. My father is so protective of me that I feel he wouldn't hear me and only seek to guard my heart." "I know I can speak for Consuela when I say that we would love to be your confidants, and would be willing to talk to you on whatever you feel you need to share with us," graciously offered Sister Teresa.


"Oh, that would be wonderful of you!" My mind kept me up all night thinking of the future and what I want for my life to be like." "Why don't we just plan on the three of us meeting every day for tea, and talk of life," suggested Consuela. "I would love that, and also enjoy getting to know you both more, over the course of the voyage," agreed Maria as she warmly touched both their hands. "Shall we say mid afternoon today here on the fore deck?"


"Ablsolutely, my dear," said Sister Teresa, as she rose from the chair. "If you will excuse me, I must go now to write in my journal and then continue with my scripture readings. I'll see you both here then." While Maria and Consuela continued the conversation well into the morning, the everday workings of the ship went on around them. This daily ritual of meeting with two wise and mature women, gave Maria a peace in her heart, as well as the confidence to follow the destiny that was set before her. The weeks went by and the daily routines of the watches and sail trimmings for the crew, while the King’s Special Forces were always performing drills to keep in readiness.


Leonardo kept a record of the nightly sightings of the stars and planets, and was always asking questions about sailing with the officers. He occasionally stopped by the ship’s carpenter shop and talked with the head carpenter. Learning the finer techniques of woodworking, Leonardo would help out doing repairs on the ship, and made a few items for the longboats stowed on deck. When Leonardo wasn’t learning something from the crew, he could be seen in conversation and laughter with Consuelo, as Alfredo was below deck busy writing poetry inspired by being on the open sea.


Alfredo often would come to the bow of the ship at dawn and stare into the vastness of the dark blue rolling waves, watching the sea life emerge to catch the first rays of the amber sunrise. "Leonardo, what a pleasant surprise. What brings you here so early today?" Inquired Alfredo as he made his way the the bow. "Good morning, Alfredo. I was charting a few stars before dawn to get a more accurate bearing on our location," informed Leonardo. It appears we are right on course, according to my calculations.


"You are so talented for such a young age. How did you come to learn so much, so early?" Leonardo turned his full attention to Alfredo, answered, "It seems I grew up being inquisitive, because I don't ever remember not being interested in the sciences, especially astronomy and alchemy. Then when I was a boy of ten, I worked for my uncle and learned the masonry business, which led me to want to design my own structures. It just grew from there into artistic persuits and map making. Growing up in Florence afforded me many opportunities to learn from observing the masters and up and coming artists.


"I admire you, Leonardo. You are so wise and gifted and still have your whole life ahead of you. I do believe great things are awaiting you." "You are most generous with your praise, Alfredo". But, I admire your abilities as well. "The ability to create on paper...words...that express the inner struggles and questions of the soul...is a gift from God, as well. Beauty is not found only in tangible objects, but in the purity of a truth well written."


"There you go being wise again, my young friend. Shall I read you my most recent poem written last evening?" "Alfredo, I would be honored." Alfredo turned and leaned against the bowsprit rail with his back to the sea, as Leonardo awaited with rapt attentiveness. "I named this one " Evening's Light," explained the poet, as he began his soliliquy.


The evening sails are full of wind,

The orange clouds above the white caps of the sea,

within a sunset horizon

From beneath the spray the Dolphin swims,

While the wake flows to the stern’s twilight

From nowhere they come, for however long,

As many as four on either side of the Bow,

They ride along, over and under each other,

they move to the flow

A pod of a hundred strong on either side,

they too follow along

As the day departs, so do the Dolphins


"How beautifully true. I have often enjoyed watching the Dolphins at play...so humanlike...yet so exoticly foreign. You captured their nature perfectly," Leonardo expressed. Alfredo put his hand on Leonardo's shoulder while admitting, "I am so glad it resonated with you, Leonardo. I often feel as if I only write for myself, and when someone else shares my words gladly, then it give me more inspiration to continue." "Please, then, I want to hear ALL your works that you are willing to share with me. I might want to serenade a young lady some day and could use all the insight I can receive to soften her heart with poetry," announced Leonardo, after soon realizing that any hopes of his winning the affections of Maria were gone, when the first night out to sea she sang with Panfilo.


By now, Panfilo and Maria had developed a special relationship. Whenever they could be together, he would play and she would sing. Sunsets were a favorite time for them to practice, as well as the late evening’s hours. When the last song was over, Panfilo would move closer to her and pause for a moment...consummated with a tender but brief kiss... quickening the heart and taking their breaths away. Then, with his arm around her shoulder, the two would sit and talk of the future. As they looked upward into the heavens, the stars changed position in the dark velvet sky.


Often, in the Officer's Quarters, the Captains were in conference late into the night. Discussions of strategies; approaching the harbor, security at anchor, where the men would be stationed during the loading of the gold, taking the civilians to shore, then procuring and loading the provisions for the longboat to bring back. Halfway through the voyage, the other Officers were curious of the map that Captain Montoya had in his possession. One evening during their daily meeting, Captain Fernandez turned to Captain Montoya and stated inquisitively, "The map that you have must be very important."


Captain Montoya hesitated, and then replied, "It is important…but it was not originally assigned to me. I happened to come across this map by chance. While I was in Florence, the father of our young cartographer onboard, presented it to me after I had told him my travels would take me to the New World. There are very few maps of this area, and it has marking on it that are not labeled…suggesting other lands. This is part of my mission's orders from the King." "I see." commented Captain Fernandez, "It seems that Fate has a hand in this assignment you are undertaking." As The Rose neared the islands of the Caribbean, the air turned humid and hot. Off in the distance about a half league, a ship was spotted by the watch in the crow’s nest. "Do you recognize her colors?" Shouted Lieutenant Gonzales.


"No!" Relayed the watch. Lieutenant Gonzales ordered all hands to battle stations, as the horn to arms was blown. Captain Fernandez rushed to the helm, and was briefed on the situation and the soldiers were ordered into position. The watch yelled back "Still no colors! And her crew is busy loading their cannons on deck!" "Pirates, no doubt!" exclaimed Lieutenant Gonzales to Captain Fernandez.. "Very well then, Lieutenant, we will show them what we got!" Confirmed Captain Fernandez, as The Rose prepared for battle. "She has veered off to our bow.”


The Rose was facing the pirate’s ship’s bow at a 30 degree angle. "Prepare to fire the 4 cannons in the focsule locker," ordered the Captain. "Aye, Aye, Sir!." The command was forwarded to the crew’s chief, "Fire!" And the first of four cannons fired away. "Hard to port!" was the command to the helm, while the two helmsman pulled hard to port. The crews in the rigging were pulling the sheets on the sails, to furl in big sections of the sail. As they came into the turn, and the four guns had fired, the sail crew unfurled the sails again, and the Rose increased in speed, while the trade winds blew off her starboard bow.


The keel was cutting through the water at a steady speed, as the stern of The Rose pointed at the bow of the pirate ship. The first of two explosions hit the bow of the pirate ship, while the stern of The Rose revealed her rear guns. With her bowsprit dangling on her running rigging, the pirate ship's main sheets were pulling forward, acting like a wind brake, slowing the vessel. With rear cannons pointing at the deck of the pirate ship, the order was given to fire away. Eight shots were fired, and all landed on the deck, or the side of the pirate ship, causing timber to fly every which way and sending splinters an inch thick.


Yelling was heard below deck, water was quickly pouring into the hull. The command of “Cease Fire!” was heard through the stern cannon locker, and the gun crew stopped their loading. Captain Fernandez victoriously viewed the pirate ship sinking, and her crew falling overboard. The order was given to the watch in the crow’s nest to continue pointing at the location of the sinking ship, as The Rose did a 270 degree turn into the wind, her main sails furled, and the hull speed slowly decreased, until they were drifting by the site of the sinking ship, in search of possible survivors.


"Stay a safe distance from her so as not to get caught in her rigging, have the longboats ready," the officer of the watch yelled to the crew, while they were positioning the longboats. The watch in the crow’s nest was still keeping an eye out for signs of life floating in the ocean. "There! On our port beam, some 100 yards away, a group holding on to a broken mast!" Excitedly reported the watchman. "And over there, 4 points off the starboard bow, some others are holding onto timbers from the hull."

The crews in the longboats had fished the survivors from the sea, and were heading back to The Rose. Captain Fernandez instructed Lieutenant Gonzales to prepare to set sail after everyone is back on board. The survivors were taken to Captain Fernandez to be interrogated. A mix of nationalities, two Portuguese, four French, one of which was a woman, and an Englishman.


Captain Montoya, who also spoke Portuguese and French, did the translating. All had been prisoners of the English pirate, “Brown Beard” and were held in the stern of the boat that sank. When the ship began to sink, the stern was the last part to go down. The locked door had been blow away during the barrage of cannon fire, and they quickly went above deck. Grabbing anything that floated, they held on, while those who were fighting would soon be sucked under by the sinking ship. As the Englishman, Jake, described his captivity and who the others were, Captain Montoya couldn’t help but look over to the French woman. She was staring down, her dress was torn along her neck and hemline, up to her waist, along the side seam. He could see she had been abused by the pirates and her body language expressed the shame she felt. "Get blankets for this lady, and the others, and find some dry clothes for them," Captain Montoya ordered.


The group followed Chief Jorge Madrid, as the French woman looked up at Captain Montoya. He looked into her eyes and felt a strange feeling that he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He continued to stare at her as she was walking away, she turned and looked at him with silent with grateful eyes before entering the main salon. A few days later it was Sunday morning just days out from Portobella, Panama, the crew were having Sunday Mass. Captain Montoya and the French woman, Claudette de Lormecy, having been acquainted over the last few day were talking alongside the starboard rail. Captain Montoya had told Claudette of Chanelle and his life with Maria. Claudette responds with her past and insight of how she came to the New World. She was married to a French Mining Engineer who was a consultant to King Charles V and was to oversee a mining operation in the mountains behind Cartagena.


They had just left Jamaica by a day and were headed to Cartagena when Brown Beard the pirate and his band of men captured the ship they were on. Her husband defending her from the half crazed men that had boarded ship was killed and she was taken aboard the pirate ship. "After being taken aboard their ship, I was treated like an animal” she said with tears running down her cheek. Captain Montoya moved next to her and put his arms around her and gently rested his head alongside hers, in a soft voice “Its alright now, those who have taken what was yours have paid the price for their crimes.” He slowly moves away and gives her room to catch her breath. She turns and looks at the Captain and says my whole life has changed but I am grateful for being saved and given another chance to live my life “Yes” say Captain Montoya while nodding his head.


Will you be continuing on to Cartagena from Portobella Captain? No Claudette, my orders have me continuing onto the Pacific side of Panama. A slight frown appears on Claudette face, but turn into a courtesy smile “I see” continued Claudette. Captain Montoya senses she is uncertain with her words. He holds her left hand and says “After my mission I would like to visit you if I may and get to know you better.” “Yes I would like that very much” Claudette said with a smile. The Mass was over and everyone were returning to their quarters. Captain Montoya and Claudette would see each other every day until reaching Portobella. On their last day together aboard the Rose, both had an empty feeling, she wanting him to stay with her and he the same. Claudette and the other French sailors, the two Portuguese and Jake will also be getting off in Portobello. The two Portuguese would get off and catch a skiff to a new territory that Portugal had founded, named Brazil.


The Rose of the Sea was anchored out in the bay at Portobello. It had completed it’s ports of call procedures and was preparing to dock at the wharf to take on supplies. Meanwhile in Captain Montoya’s cabin, Maria standing next to Lieutenant Segovia, told her father that she was in love with the young Lieutenant and that they planned to wed. Miguel fully understood the intensity of what they were feeling, as he had felt, so many years ago. This was an answer to his prayer, he knew he couldn't fill the void in her life forever. With that in mind Miguel gave them his blessing and not being the ship’s captain, would ask his fellow traveler Monsignor Munoz to perform the ceremony onboard. After a request was made to Lieutenant Gonzales to witness the wedding of his friend, and Mrs. Sierra to be the matron of honor.


The ceremony was held that evening on deck, with the entire crew and passengers as witnesses of a love born at sea. Roberto and Federico played softly, while the vows were exchanged by the pale lamplight. As the newly wed couple arose from their knees, the Monsignor removed the gold cross from around his neck, while stating that this was the symbol of pure love and sacrifice, then bequeathed it to Maria as their first wedding gift.


It had been a life altering 44 days journey for all who were fortuitous to have set sail on the Rose del Mar. Maria now would have to say goodbye to her adoring father as he continued his quest, while embracing her new role as the wife of a military officer. Her thoughts, again, turning to the memory of her mother and wondering if she could endure the separations by the sea, from the man whom so totally captivated her heart.


As the remaining passengers were leaving for shore, Leonardo was saying his goodbyes to the Sierras. As Captain Montoya drew his daughter aside and placed the ring her mother wore into her hand, while half whispering “Maria, even though I am leaving you now to complete this assignment, I want you to know that you will never be far from my heart. Wear this ring and know that your mother and I will always love you, no matter how much distance or time separates us.” She held him long and tight, as the tears flowed freely.


“Father,” Maria responded through the tears, “I now have Panfilo to watch over me. Thank you for all you have done for me, I love you. Be at peace in your heart. May God grant you all you seek.” Then she turned and took her husband’s outstretched hand as Miguel remembered that fateful day Chanelle first touched his hand and their life together was yet to be lived. “Godspeed Father” were the parting words of his beloved daughter. He turned his face to wipe a tear from his face before regaining his composure. A farewell hug to his daughter and a hand shake to his new son in law, as he disembarked for shore.


Stopping at a signal Leo ended his day dream and turned to Miguel in silence, then back at the intersection wondering about the road he is on and how he met Florencia.

      COPYRIGHT 2020 Thomas Takao