Episode 9

Messenger of the Wind

 

The new week was like the last with those being employed doing their daily duties. There are some with insight and are preparing for difficult times ahead. Not knowing when, but are convinced that it will happen. They can only wait for those changes to happen and adjust to those changes while others go about their daily lives until they no longer can and find themselves on a difficult road to travel on.

 

Vector had installed a gravel road near the main entrance of Leo’s property to the base of mountain of his new site, from there an asphalt road went up the rest of the way. A custom gate structure constructed of wrought iron and masonry blocks. Flaring out 20 feet to a chain link fencing that encircled the outer perimeter of the plateau of the of Vector’s complex. Another block wall is surrounding the modular building that he brought over from New Zealand with an added extension that housed an observatory. Vector had carved out a portion of the mountain side to install a secret spacecraft hangar and was walking around the area and going over his plans.

 

Meanwhile Leo was at his pump station by the river. His crew was working on the trench where the mainline would be situated. A couple of backhoes digging away and a few skipsteers with heavy duty mower attachments cutting down the dense vegetation and moving rocks and small boulders out of the way. The mainline would follow along side of the road to the farming operations. Another mainline would tee off and go to Vector’s location.

 

Leo calls Vector “Vector since it’s Friday how’s your schedule looking later today” he asked. “Kinda busy, but whats up” he replied. “Would you be interested in playing 9 holes around 3 this afternoon” asked Leo. “I’m reviewing some changes that need to be done, but playing a few holes sounds good to me” remarked Vector. So they met up and played some golf. As the sun made it’s way towards sunset Leo and Vector are in the parking lot of the country club going over their score card.

 

“Well you shot a 45 and I shot 46” Vector said while counting the numbers of putts they did for each hole that was part of their score. “So you are going to put a runway near the office complex as you mentioned on the last hole. What type of plane are you going to get” asked Vector. “A Bombardier’s Learjet 60 XR” Leo said. “That sounds good to me. Whenever you are in a hurry we can take my spacecraft” Vector added. “I know you may be busy at times and I will need to get to places that aren’t faraway and I can get to on sudden notice. That was the main factor in the decision of a runway and plane” explained Leo as he looked at his cell phone for messages.

 

“Do you remember those precious metal mines I had you cover up in Mexico and Peru when we were in Portobello. I recently made arrangement with some mining companies to start them up again” continued Leo. “Are those the ones you had me cover up with tons and tons of mountain dirt when I had my old spacecraft and made visits at different time intervals to update your ownership of those land” asked Vector. “Yes, those are the ones that I inherited from Vincenzo way back when. I might not have told you all about it back then” Leo said. “I might have heard you mentioned it, but refresh my memory, I’m kinda interested in how you got those mines in Mexico and Peru” asked Vector.

 

“That’s when I was working for Flo’s father, the govenor at Portobello. It’s a long story to say the least, where one thing led to another. As I had mentioned earlier that I went on a map finding journey in the beginning to find out what Vincenzo diaries was all about. Which turned out to be a small treasure chest with the deeds of the mines. I remember it as if it were yesterday, would you like to hear about it” Leo said. “Yes, be my guest and enlighten me about it” said Vector. “Let me know when you have to go before I finish and we can resume later” Leo said. “Ok, Vector said while nodding his head.

 

Leo began by saying “There was much to do around the Governor’s hacienda and I was busy designing and supervising the road construction leading into Portobello, making it more efficient for the mule trains and military. I drew up a Master Plan for the city and the governor, Florencia and I would have regular meetings to discuss details of the Plan and make adjustments where needed.”

The construction went according to plan and the town was hiring more and more workers. Meanwhile a road to Florencia house was being built along with two bridges. With all of the construction going on the flowof gold and silver were increasing by the day. The responsibility of the position grew and that would increase the pay scale. With each increase the boat that was being planned got a little larger. Florencia was still in the planning stage of her house and was going through rough sketches of the building, the land on which it will be located and the road leading into the estate. After about three months of preliminary planning she began transforming her ideas into a working drawing for her house. “I helped on the foundation plan and supervised the installation. The other projects included in the construction was the road and the two bridges that led to her house.”

The gold from Peru and the silver from Mexico were being shipped back to Spain from Panama and the location now known as Cartagena, Colombia. The governor’s brother Phillip Ortega was in charge of the Colombia shipment. There were vast amounts of gold and silver being shipped out on a regular basis and tons of the precious metals were being protected at the storage depots on both sides of Panama. The military were in charge of protecting the locations from the pirates that lurked off shore and the bandits that were on land.

After six months the house was built, it was a two story house that was on a bluff overlooking the bay. The warehouse and workshop were still under construction and “I had a wharf built inside the bay a few hundred meters from the house. This is where my new boat would be staying. With the help from a local boat builder, she was finished about the same time as the house. Getting back to the boat which I named La Flecha. She was 40 ft. in length and a beam of 16 feet. One day I was enjoying the moment with Florencia. We were out sailing in my new boat and was sailing good and fast.  

Having calculated the course of travel and amount of time we would spend on the water I began our return trip home. With my first mate beside me, I was keeping an eye of which way the wind was blowing and the landmark to steer her by. After entering the bay “la Flecha” swongs wide and turns toward the wharf. I lowered the sail as Florencia had the helm. The boat slowed and I threw the line to an awaiting worker who would tie the line to the dock cleat. We went back home and received a message.


There was a change of plans regarding the trip to Peru I was to make. It had been rescheduled for 4 months later and giving me more time to spend around the new hacienda. Arriving on a Friday to the governor’s hacienda for a weekend get together. A meeting took placed involving what the governor had on his mind. The governor hands a letter to me from the Spanish Court and said “They still want you to go on the mapping assignment. But I have an idea, I know a person who is the grandson of Juan de la Cosa and he is in Cartagena. He has the skills of map making and has worked for my brother Phillip, he speaks very highly of him and is well qualified for this project. I will get a letter off to Spain tomorrow. I will have to make a copy of the map and copies of the books. Have you done much work on those books”

the governor asks.

 

“Still working on deciphering it and I haven’t given it much thought lately” Leo said. “All right I will do what I just explained and see if that will please the court” said the Juan the governor as he continued “ You and Florencia will go and see my brother and make arrangements for his employee to switch places with you.” “Yes” I said and got ready.

The provision for the sail over to Cartagena had been made and I had informed the supervisors and foremen of what to do while we were gone. Florencia has done the same with the servants around the house. It was mid-morning on the day of going to Colombia. I pushed off the wharf and released the dock lines. Both of us waved to the servants on the wharf as they waved back.

 

There was a slight breeze developing and the tide was going out. After rounding the entrance of the bay we headed East by Southeast. The breeze picked up and la Flecha was doing a steady 14 knots on a port tack. Having time to discuss the various things on our minds. We both establish a routine to keep ourselves busy as the vast open space of the ocean passes by. Nightfall approached and Florencia was at the helm, I had come out from the cabin of the boat and took over the helm from Florencia.

 

Taking some leaves out of a pouch I began to chew on the coco leaves. “One of the supervisors gave me these leaves and told me they could be addicting but will keep me going when I get tired. I told him “I will be careful not to over-do it” I said. “He is right I have seen older workers use it daily and they act strange at times for over using. Drawing the line of when to use something and stopped using is what life teaches us” said Florencia. “I have you to watch over me my dear” said I as we looked out at the  twilight of night. “I will take care in using the leaves” I said while chewing on one as darkness settled in. The following morning Florencia awoken and steps out into the cockpit where I was looking over the map of Cartagena Harbor. “Good Morning Flo” I greeted her. “Good Morning Leo” answered Florencia. “We should be in harbor within an hour” I mentioned as Florencia sat next to me. The sun was making it way up on the eastern horizon off the port beam.

After landing in Cartagena the two of us went off to see Florencia’s uncle in the carriage that he had sent for us after he was notified of their arrival. We would go through town and arrive at a massive gold depot which looked like a city within a city. The driver pulls up to the main 3 story building and we went inside to be greeted by Phillip himself in the lounge. “Nice to see you again Florencia and a pleasure to meet you young man” said Phillip while giving Florencia a hug and a handshake to me. We discussed what Governor Juan had told us and afterwards we were talking about pirates and the latest developments happening in Panama.

 

“Excuse me Sir, Governor Juan said you knew of a map maker who was the grandson of Juan de la Cosa” I said. “Yes, he does work for me, why do you ask?“ said Phillip. “I originally was assign to map an island in the Pacifico Ocean. We only know that it might be anywhere in the vast space west of Mexico, That was the original plans, but during the time I arrived in Panama and now. I was hired by Governor Juan and will be marrying Florencia after returning from Peru” I answered to clarify his question. “Oh I see, I can arrange Hector to switch places with you and that should be fine” Phillip said.

“Florencia, why don’t you and Leonardo stay at my place” said Phillip. “Thank you Uncle, we would love to stay the night, but we have important matters to discuss with you this evening before we return to back with the morning tide” Florencia said. “That will be fine , you and Leonardo can fresh up this afternoon and we will have dinner and go over what your father has in mind tonight, please excuse for now I have a meeting to attend too” Governor Phillip said with a smile. That evening dinner was served at Governor estate and he and his wife Ana were splendid hosts. After relaying the message her father had sent them for Florencia and I retired for the night back at the boat. It was 5 am when the lone rooster started to crow the cock a do da do alarm.

 

We were up and ready to go, but waited for the first breeze of the day. After that the sail were up and we were off with the tide, as the slight breeze became steady. La Flecha was traveling 15 knots cutting through the water and making good time at that speed when nightfall came upon us, we made landfall the next afternoon. We continued to brainstorm ideas that came to mind just like the day before. The days turned into months and I was preparing for my trip to Peru. “Your father went over his plan with me regarding the agenda” I mentioned to Florencia and she look at me and nodded her head while thinking of a few other things.

 Traveling on horseback I made the trip over to Panama City. I would take the next week sight-seeing and get to know the city after checking in at the hotel. One day at the beach looking out at the surf I notices a kid playing in the surf, catching the white water with a piece of plank about the length of the youngster. As I watched the kid leap on the white water and was propelled forward toward shore. The ride wasn’t long but what I noticed was that the kid was having fun and wanting to do it again. After going in the kid was dragging the plank back across the beach to its hide it in the bushes.

 

I catught up to him and asked if I could try using his board and would pay him for using it. The kid said “Si’”. So out into the water I went with my trouser on and my shirt off, I went out a little further than him where the white water was larger. After a few tries I caught the white water and was moving to shore. I felt the same stoke that the kid had expressed and thought to myself this was fun. After a few more white water waves I returned the plank back to the young boy and sat back under the tree and began sketching a few ideas and some waves on a sheet of paper.

The week went by fast with going to the beach, studying Vincenzo’s diariess and thinking of my next boat. It was time to depart from Panama and sail to Peru. After getting on board I was reviewing my drawing of the beach while on the port rail of the “Mensajero de Viento” (Messenger of the Wind) as it made its way along Ecudorian’s coastline. Looking at the wave drawings again it brought back the memory of riding the waves. The captain of the “Mensajero” Felix Hernandez had stopped by to talk with me as the first day out from Panama was coming to an end.

 

“As mentioned we will be stopping in Trujillo for 2 days before sailing on to Callao” said Captain Hernandez. The Captain looking at Leonardo sketch of the waves continued with “There is a beach city named Huanchaco where fishermen ride the waves on boats made of reeds”. “Boats riding waves” I questioned. “Yes, they have been doing it for a very long time. Way before we set foot on these lands” explained Captain Hernandez. “I will visit that place and see for myself when we anchor” said I while thinking about my experience of riding the white water in Panama.

A week later Mensajero de Viento was anchored off Trujillo and I was on the beach at Huanchaco and watching the fishermen on their boats surfing in from their daily fishing. Waiting out in the lineup a group of fishermen took turns catching the waves in. Some came straight into shore while others angled and were riding the waves with the white water behind them. With the unbroken part of the wave in front of them, they would get a longer ride before straightening out and ride the white water in. Fascinated by what I was seeing I walked over to a group of fishermen and asked if one of them could teach me to surf on a reed boat.

 

A person steps forward and says he can and then introduces himself as Sergio Barbosa and that he could teach me to surf and had a boat for me to use. It wasn’t long before I was paddling out and occasionally falling off to the side on the way out. Once in the lineup Sergio tells me what to look for when the swell gets closer to shore and where to be to catch the wave. As we sat there Sergio told me to start paddling for the wave. I looked at him and then out to the horizon and see a swell approaching. So I started paddling for the wave. The swell passes me and breaks about ten feet farther in. Sergio laughed and says “You are too slow, paddle harder. Watch me on the next wave and see how I do it” he said.

So I did just that and noticed it was the timing of where to be, when to begin paddling and to know when you have caught the wave. After a half an hour I started to catch on and started to get my balance and control. I would spend the rest of the day surfing on the reed boat. “You are naturally gifted for surfing my friend” said Sergio as he watched. I improved with each wave that I rode. Out in the lineup Sergio is talking to me in between set of waves and said “There is a city to the north of here and it’s named is Chicama. I heard that the waves there are very long and a few people I know have ridden it. One day I will go there and ride the waves” Sergio remarked with a deep conviction to do so. I thanked Sergio for teaching me and said I will always remember him and gave him a gold peso before getting into the carriage I was using and returned to Trujillo that evening.

The following day the Mensajero set sail and went out to sea and making its way to Callao. Once there I made all of my contacts and exchanged the letters from Governor Juan to the Viceroy of Peru, Vidal Sestorio. Attending varies parties and visiting Inca villages, I had a good time. But time came and went and three weeks later I would be back in Panama City. There to greet him was a letter from Florencia. She says that they have been attacked by pirates and they have burned down the house, wharf and my boat. They had damage the crops out in the fields. She and the servants were lucky to have escaped back to her father’s hacienda. Where she will be waiting for my return. After reading the letter I rushed over to the governor of Panama City office and had a talk with him about what has occurred. The governor was aware of the incident and had prepared an escort unit for me for my return trip back home.

Once back to Portobello, I’m back at Governor Juan’s hacienda and enter the main house where Florencia is sitting somewhat distraught. After seeing me she rushes over. Overwhelmed by the moment, she started to cry and I comforted her with a securing embrace. “You are all right and that is all that matters to me, everything else can be replaced” I said. We looked at each other and I wiped the tears from her face and with a sigh she said “You are right.” We embraced and she told me “You are my guiding light” I in return said “You are my inspiration.” Happy to be together we discussed the rebuilding of the house and plantation. We were married in three month time and had come back from our honeymoon when a letter from the Court of Spain came to my attention. It was regarding the original quest to find the location on the map that I had and the copy Hector was using. The ship Hector was on ran into a storm and the ship and all onboard were lost.

So, I was order once again to continue on the mission to find the island in the Pacifico Ocean. Florencia said to me“I will go with you this time. I can’t bear to be without you.” I stood in silence for a while looking at Florencia and remarked “All right, but what about your father?” “He will understand” Florencia said as she reached for and held my hand. After discussing Florencia’s intentions and somewhat against Florencia from going the governor gave in and agreed. We made the trip over to Panama City and would depart in a few day’s time into the Pacifico Ocean.

 

After taking Florencia to those places I had visited on my first visit to Panama City, we ended the day at the beach where I watched the young boy surf the white water. The sunset was very colorful as the hues of yellow, red, violet and orange stretched across the clouds framed by a powder blue sky with darkness of nightfall soon to follow. We had dinner at a cantina near the ship “La Buscador” (The Seeker) of which they would be traveling on. “La Buscador” was sailing to Acapulco first to unload weapons and documents to the government officials there before turning west into the vast Pacifico Ocean” I said while taking a bite from the meal and continued “I had a talk with Captain Rogelio Vargas the other day about my theory of where to start and how long it might take to get there” I said.

“I feel this is the final leg of the journey to get to where the location is on the map. I have been studying the map on and off for quite a while. But it wasn’t until the Padre shared those books back at the church in Portobello that things became clearer in how to approach the location” said I to Flo. As I continued “There was a book by Claudius Ptolemaeus known as “Ptolemy” a Roman scholar who recognized a need for a grid system to measure ones location. Using north as the top of maps and south as the bottom and having lines spaced out in those direction. Then going east to west with lines spaced out in those directions evenly. Then using that concept and the general descriptions noted on the map of Vincenzo. I came to the conclusion that what we are looking for is due west of Acapulco. Having talked with some of the navigators here in Panama of their trip from the Philippines to Acapulco, I’m guessing around 40 days or so is where we will find land”.

I lifted my wine cup and said “A toast to the finding the land and returning home to rebuild our house and our future” as I touched the wine cup from Florencia extended arm. “I have some wonderful ideas for our new house” said Florencia. “I can hardly wait to get back and start” I said while smiling and placing my cup down as she did the same. “We will make it much better this time” said I as she nodded her head to say yes. We left the cantina and returned back to our quarters aboard the La Buscador.

 

With the command of weigh anchor La Buscador starts to drift before her sails filled in and slowly left the harbor for her trip to Acapulco. Florencia and I looked back as the mountains which started to disappear, the routine of being out at sea tookover. We would dine with Captain Vargas the first few nights. After the meal the table was cleared and the maps are brought out. The Captain asked “Do you really think the land we seek is west of Acapulco, Leonardo”. “It is a guess and I can’t guarantee that it will be out there, but my guess there is something out there. I know it like finding a needle in a haystack, but the King wants us to find it and claim it for Spain. So Captain I have my orders like you and these maps that I have is all that we have to go by” I said.

“We will sail for 40 days and if no land is sited we will turn around and return back to Acapulco. The supplies we have on board will last for 100 days. I have to think of everyone on board and their welfare” Captain Vargas replied. “Understood Captain” I said back. The next day came and went like each day that would follow, blue skys and a breeze from the northeast. Arriving in Acapulco 10 days later, La Buscador loads up on supplies and water and is preparing to leave on their mission. Going over the map I, the Captain and the navigator discuss the details of the course as the ship left the harbor of Acapulco and into the unknown. The first week went by and being out at sea turned into routine. Each morning the officer on deck would ring the bell indicating the watch change. I would have a daily meeting with the captain and a walk around the deck with Florencia. We would discuss topics that either of us had in mind. A group of individuals would have a Sunday mass service held around mid morning with an opening and closing prayer. Each day would start and end the same as the previous day.

On the 35th day a tern was spotted flying near the ship and the watch in the crow’s nest calls out the bird off the starboard bow. Leonardo rushes to see and observes the bird with his spyglass flying away north by northwest. The captain walks over to Leonardo and says “We shall make a slight adjustment in our course and change our direction north by northwest. After a few days the watch in the crow’s nest notices a log floating by some 200 yards away. Then notices on the horizon two peaks and yells “land ho, four points off the port bow”. Florencia and I were talking about home when the watch spotted land and both of us turned to our left and saw the two peaks. Not knowing the height of the peaks the Officer on deck guest it would be few hour before landing, it took nearly a day before they could see the base of the large mountains.

 

“Excuse me Leo, I have to be going, lets resume the story tomorrow. Care to go surf tomorrow morning, Frank said it was good this morning” Vector replied. “Yeah that sounds good to me. Dawn patrol” Leo asked. “Yes, say 5. Rocky and Frank will go but will take their own car” Vector answered back. Looking at his watch Leo says “How time flys. Ok, I will pick you up in the morning.”

      COPYRIGHT 2020 Thomas Takao