Episode 6

"Reflections Drifting By"

 

Having their morning coffee on the patio, Leo says to Flo “Flo I had another vision last night about what is going to happen next year. I’m going to stop construction in New Zealand and not develop our island in Fiji. Instead focus our attention here and stay in Panama. We will keep both locations and not build on them for now.” “That’s alright with me. But, what made you change your mind, is it because of the outlook of the pandemic and the global economic disarray” asked Flo.

 

“Yes, this is going to be the “Greatest Depression” the world has ever seen” said Leo taking a sip from his coffee. “So, what should we do now” questioned Flo. “I will let Vector know of the change in plans and have all the things that was shipped to New Zealand brought here. I will look around for a location here to build on” said Leo.

 

“Should I start a clothing company here” asked Flo. “A design location and have it manufactured in Southeast Asia. But many retailers will go out of business and different types of businesses will pop up for the middle class, second hand clothing will be one area. So let me look into it some more and lets talk it over after I do” suggested Leo. “Ok, changing the subject, do you want to go surf” she asked. “Yes, I want to get wet and take my mind off of what is going to happen for now and think about it after we get back” said Leo.

 

So they drove down to the beach and happened to see Vector, Rocky and Frank out in the water. Leo and Flo paddled out and went over to where Vector and the boys were sitting. “Vector, I was going to call you, but since you are here. There has been a change in plans regarding New Zealand and Fiji. I’m going to put everything on hold for now over there” mentioned Leo as a set appeared on the horizon and they started to paddled further out as they let the first two waves pass them by.

 

Flo who was a few meters behind them sees the opportunity and catches the first wave of the set. Rocky and Frank letting his dad and the others have the waves, are watching Flo take off and glide down the face of the wave into a flowing bottom turn. Getting half way up the face of the wave, she trims her board for the hollow section of the wave. Rocky and Frank starts yelling “Go Flo, right on”, Leo and Vector look back and can see Flo upper body racing acoss the waves. “She really likes that board that Rocky designed and finished shaped” said Leo.

 

“I like mine too” said Vector as he spun around and began paddling for the wave. “Ok, here I go” with that said Vector catching the third wave of the set. Thinking the next wave was his Leo was getting ready, only to find it was a 3 wave set. He paddles back in and waits for another set with Frank and Rocky. “Have you been getting use to the software” asked Frank. “Which software do you mean” replied Leo. “The shaping software” said Frank.

 

“Oh, I have been busy with other projects lately and only got to use it a little. Intro stuff, but will start getting into it soon. What about yourself, have you been using it” asked Leo. “I have been learning on it and getting use to it. I’ve been glassing more than shaping though. Rocky is really into it” said Frank. Turning to Rocky, Leo asks “What are you designing currently.” “A 6’ 0” 4 fin fish with 6 concaves” said Rocky looking at Frank. “It’s going to be interesting glassing and sanding it” said Frank looking at Rocky and Leo.

 

Vector and Flo are paddling back out and Flo mentioned “Artemesia said she and Velidia were going shopping this afternoon are you going over to New Zealand.” “No, I had plans in going over to Aftrica, Tanzania to be specific. Leo mentioned of a gold mining operation there and wanted me to check it out” said Vector. “Sounds interesting, will you be there for awhile” asked Flo. “No, for a few hours. Just want to scan the area and the sub-surface to see if it is worth investing in” answered Vector, then asked “Are you still thinking of going into the garment industry. Velidia has been busy sketching a line of garments on the computer.” “Leo mentioned I should hold off for now and he will look into some more” said Flo as they got back with the others.

 

After an hour and a half of surfing Leo, Flo and Vector were getting out of the water. Vector mentioned silver “Should we increase our holding in silver” he asked. “Yes, Mexico will stop their selling silver when the lock down happens, so we need to increase the amount we have. I have been in contact with a vault service here and made arrangements to have our silver stored there” said Leo. “So, the strategy is to place gold in Switzerland and silver in Panama” said Vector. “Yes, we needed to melt down the gold that we have and conform it to today’s standards. So Switzerland was the choice for our gold” said Leo. “Yes, I remember you telling me that when we made the pickup at Portobello” said Vector looking at Flo who would tell Artemeisa later.

 

After drying off Vector waited for Frank and Rocky to come in and would go to Africa after that. Leo went to see an agricultural realtor about some acreage to build on. Flo, Artemesia and Velidia went shopping and to look at the clothing lines and get some ideas and have their own study group of what was selling and what the people were wearing. Having a list of mines to visit, Vector would visit 4 mines to gather data for each location before returning home to Panama. He would return another time to gather more data from 4 other mines in the country.

 

After seeing the realtor and arranging a tour of 3 properties, Leo chartered a copter for that day and would visit those locations in a few days with Flo. With his business schedule taken care of for the day, he went to the harbor and would go for a solo afternoon day sail. After motoring out from his berth and raising the mainsail and jib. He was on a starboard tack for about 5 minutes when he received a phone call from Flo.

 

“Leo are you home” asked Flo. “No, just passed Pelican Rock on the boat for a days sail. Will be back in a couple hours” said Leo. “Just wanted to know if you wanted to go out for dinner tonight at Raul” replied Flo. “That sound alright with me. Where are you now” asked Leo. “I’m with Artemesia and Velidia and we are at the Plaza taking a break from our shopping” said Flo. “Ok, sounds good. I have to change tack, there is a few birds circling around up in front of me. It could be a cargo net or something. So see you at home in a few hours” said Leo as he adjusted the mainsheet and veered off the course he was on.

 

After traveling in a triangle Leo heads back to the harbor. After cleaning up he is at the parking lot when a teenage boy comes up to him and asks for money “Senior, do you have some dinero, my mother lost her job and we are having a rough time” said the boy. “Tell your mother to go to this location and talk to the manager (pulling a business card from his day bag) and tell the manager I sent her. He will find work for your mother. “Gracias Senior, muchas gracias” said the boy as he hurried off.

 

Seeing the boy disappear down the street, Leo calls the manager he had mentioned. “Luis, there will be a woman looking for a job. Find out what she can do and help her out” said Leo. “Yes sir, will do” said Luis. “Thank you Luis. How are things at the Farmer’s Market” asked Leo. “Very busy, there are more people shopping here. When that lady shows up, I can put her to work” said Luis. “Ok, thank you very much Luis, I have to go” said Leo as he hung up.

 

After returning home Leo is sitting next to the koi pond watching the koi swim by and thinking about what he has to do. He hears the sliding glass door opening  “Leo, how was your day sail” asked Flo. “It was good, thought of a few things I might do next month. How was your day” asked Leo. “Well, we went shopping and a mariachi band was playing next door at the plaza, so we sat and listened for awhile. After that we went to an art gallery and view works by local artists. Then we came home” said Flo walking over to the pond with a hand full of fish food and tossing it onto the pond. The koi swam over to the pellets that was floating on the surface and began feasting as she mentioned “I have to put away the garments that I got” and went back into the house.

 

Leo viewed the splashing by some of the fish and it brought back memories of the beginning of his journey. His mind traveled back to that day.

 

It was a clear spring afternoon in the city of Florence, Italy. The Renaissance was still in progress during the latter part of the 16th century. The City reflected the mood of the times, touching all parts of daily life from religion, politics and business. The old ways were being changed and with it an interest in the world beyond the current maps of the day.
A rock that was once part of a stone bridge penetrated the water, causing an implosion that sent a ragged circular sheet of water upwards, generating a rippling effect, with waves radiating from the epicenter. The current of the Flume Arno flowed westward and stretched the waves until they were erased.

The rock was thrown by him, a young eighteen year old cartographer. Remembering he had once apprenticed as a stone mason for his uncle. As a stone mason apprentice, he had worked on walls and bridges such as the one he and his father crossed this day. So throwing the stone was something he had done many times before. That one stone, loosened from its placement, wasn’t going to get away from his wish, to see other lands talked about by the customers who would come into their Map Shop.

Leonardo was standing in the very middle of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge when he threw the rock. Along side of him was his mentor and father, Guido,a stout gentleman weighing close to two hundred pounds, but well groomed and fashionably clothed. They were returning to the shop after visiting a supplier, when the stone was thrown. Guido had stopped as well, and looked out onto the Arno. After seeing the rock land he slowly looked down on his reflection from the bridge. Guido thought back to when Leonardo was a young boy and how they would cross this same bridge holding hands. Leonardo would ask questions of "What is this?" and "What is that?". How precious those moments were, not knowing it back then he thought, as he watched a piece of wood drifted by.

Leonardo had an inquiring mind at an early age and it would continue to serve his imagination as he grew older Guido thought. His keen sense of observation, and wanting to convey what he saw by drawing it, came natural to him. Besides drawing, Guido would watch Leonardo build things, such as miniature castles out of sticks and walls made of stones.

As Leonardo grew older, Guido’s brother, Mario, mentioned to him that there was an apprentice position in his business, and thought Leonardo might like to learn to be a stone mason. Guido wasn’t sure, but thought it might make Leonardo more appreciative of map making after lifting small blocks of stone, so he agreed to let Leonardo work for him. Under his watchful supervision, Leonardo learned the principles of footings to weight ratios , angles and height, procedures and safety, while doing things that were less strenuous for a boy of 10.

After two years, Leonardo had learned much and had still been sketching after work and whenever there was time off from apprenticing, though his thoughts were of art and he desired to further his knowledge on the subject matter. So, Guido enrolled Leonardo, then twelve, at the prestigious Raphael Academy of Arts. There, Leonardo learned the skills of painting and sculpture. After spending four years at the Academy, he was an accomplished young artist. But, to repay his father, Leonardo started working for him and quickly learned the map trade. This made Guido happy, and furthered Leonardo's insatiable appetite for knowledge.

Still looking down at his reflection in the water, Guido sighed to his son, "Life is like this bridge we cross. So many things will flow past you as you make your way across to the other side. Before you know it, you will be old and full of regrets, like I". The Leonardo looked at his father and inquired, "What do you mean, father?" Guido began walking, and replied, "You will learn my son...you will learn.

Guido had once aspired to be an artist himself. His family was not prosperous enough to afford the exorbitant cost of professional lessons, so he would watch over the shoulders of many of the artist of his day at work on their portrait and landscape paintings. Not having a sponsor to support his endeavors, he went to work in the map making industry, where his talents excelled and eventually led to his own successful shop. The naming of his son Leonardo, was in hopes of  having an heir who could carry out his own unfulfilled ambitions.

The pungent smell from the butcher shops that lined near the entrance of the bridge, lingered in the breeze. Noise from the crowd of merchants and passerby, blended into a muffle as they made their way from one end of the bridge to the other side. Guido exclaimed, "Oh! I just remembered, Leonardo! I have an appointment this afternoon. I think we have just enough time to get back to the shop to meet them.

Reaching the shop, they put away their outer coats. No sooner after they had done so, then there was a knock at the door. A stately gentleman and his companion, a young lady, entered. He introduced himself as Captain Miguel Montoya, a tall and fit man in early 40's. His companion was his daughter, Maria, who had just turned 17, and was slender for her height of 5’ 8”. Her full figured appearance was that of a woman, with chestnut hair framing a very beautiful face. Her eyes, her nose and her smile reflected that of her mother's personality and beauty.

The pair was visiting Florence on official business for the Royal Court of Spain and were anticipating their return voyage within a few days time. A letter of introduction was delivered from officials in Florence to expedite the procurement of maps, at the request of Spain's King Charles V. Guido's abilities were renown in Europe, so the appointment was arranged and it wasn’t long before the two met face to face.

"Good Afternoon, I am Captain Miguel Montoya. An appointment was made for me with Mr. Vi through the office of the Casa de Contratación in Seville." "Yes, Yes, come in Captain. I am Guido Vi, at your service." "Thank you. May I introduce my daughter, Maria?" "A pleasure, I am sure," Guido offered, as he half bowed with a smile. "Allow me to introduce my son and partner, Leonardo to you," as he proudly turned to face his son.

"Pleased to make your aquaintence," Leonardo warmly extended his hand to shake Captain Montoya's hand, then grasping the fore-fingers of Maria's outstretched hand with a slight lowering of his head in a respectful gesture. "May I take your coats for you?" "Yes, thank you, Leonardo," Maria replied as she allowed him to help her remove her cape while sensing his careful touch on her shoulders. "We have been thoroughly enjoying your beautiful city," she added, in fluent Italian.

 

When Leonardo heard that, his face lit up in agreement, but he decided to hold his thoughts until a more appropriate moment. "Please come in and let me show you our shop." "Captain Montoya, I was informed that you were primarily looking for the latest maps on the trade routes to Panama as well as the Pacific coast," Guido inquired, confirming what he had been briefed in the communique he received from Rome.

"That is correct, Mr. Vi. What are your most up to date maps available?" the Captain asked, as he moved to the center of the room where there was a large table elaborately painted like a map. "What a beautiful piece of art!" commented Miguel, as he admired the detailed drawing of Italy's coastline. "I must be boastful and tell you that Leonardo did that for me as a gift for sending him through the art academy here in Florence. He is very skilled and I hope you find that evident in the maps he produces for us. And please, call me Guido. Only the butcher calls me Mr. Vi" he added with a smile.

"If this table is any indication of your maps, then I am sure I will be well pleased with your cartography. "Left to themselves, Maria engaged Leonardo in conversation. At first, Leonardo seemed nervously shy and was hasten with his words. Maria, on the other hand, was charming and carried herself well for a young woman of 17. She made Leonardo at ease with her humor and grace, despite the fact that her beauty captivated him. Her father, hearing the laughter, produced a warm hearted smile and redirected his focus back to the purpose he had come for.

By this time, Maria and Leonardo had rejoined their fathers at the table. Maria, as well, was impressed with the artistic abilities of Leonardo and a conversation ensued about his work and aspirations, while Captain Montoya and Guido began talking about the new and unexplored lands. Guido mentioned to the Captain that he had something that he should see. Guido excused himself, walked over to a shelf, and brought back a few books and a map in a protective leather cover and laid it on the table before them. It was the very map and diaries that he recently bought from a Portuguese sailor, at a tavern near the coast of Naples, for the price of 100 ducat.

The Portuguese was offered the purchase of the map in an opium den, from a ship's officer, just returning from a voyage in the vast Pacific. Admittedly stolen from the Captain's room, it had been an equitable sale for the pilot, in exchange for the opium's adictive panacea. The Captain inquired of Guido if he would be willing to travel to the New World. "Why do you ask?" responded Guido.

"I am not at full liberty to discuss the matter," Miguel answered in earnest, "But I will say that the length of the expedition could take up to three years. Others who have gone to the Pacific side, have taken that much time to get there and return back to the Port of Barcelona." Pausing for a moment, Captain Montoya lifted his mind from his inquiry and looked over to where Maria and Leonardo were still sharing their thoughts.

"Leonardo, would you help me with the unrolling of this map?" Guido asked, while jesturing for him to come closer. "Yes, of course, father," as Leonardo broke his concentration from his focus on Maria, somewhat unwillingly and turned around to help. Looking down at the map, they scanned their sights around the edges and then into the vast open area of the Pacific with only some island shape markings shown between the New World and the Orient.

"Guido, what is this?" Inquired Captain Montoya, pointing at the roughly drawn shapes. "Oh! Those islands have fascinated me also. Where exactly they are, is still a mystery to me," as Guido looked up, and around the shop, before continuing with his train of thought and adding, "How far they are from the New World and Asia, is only a guess. But it would make for a good place to stop on a long voyage."

"Did the Portuguese sailor mention anything about them?" Montoya asked with much interest.
"I had the same question. All he said was that the pilot had heard it from someone else, but wasn’t sure if they really existed, so he placed the markings there as reference point for future exploration."

"Since Spain has discovered the Philippine Islands, having to cross the vast Pacific from Acapulco is a long journey. What if these islands were found and Spain were to use this location for a military advantage, Forgive me, I was talking to myself" said Captain Montoya.

Leonardo smiled, as if he read Miguel's thoughts and said, "There have been many explorers in our shop and each has a hidden agenda up their sleeve. Your views are interesting and it is plain to see that those islands do hold a strategic point in the vastness of this area." They discussed further the possibilities of finding those islands, if they did indeed exist.

Captain Montoya took the necessary time he needed to complete the purchase of the recently mapped trade routes, and the unexpected find of the formerly uncharted islands awaiting him in the Pacific. "Very well then, thank you for your assistance, gentlemen," said Miguel, as he consummated the purchase of the maps, while Guido wrapped them in a leather binder with his signature trademark "V" on the clasp.

"Captain Montoya, would you and Maria be available to join us tomorrow at the Gallery?" Asked Leonardo, with hopes of continuing their conversation further. "I am afraid we have to leave in the morning for Spain, now that our mission here is accomplished," Miguel regrettfully answered, knowing that Maria would have been delighted to do so.

"How unfortunate. Regardless, we have enjoyed your company and appreciate your business," added Leonardo, masking his disappointment. The Captain and his daughter said their farewells to Guido and Leonardo and in closing the Captain mentioned to Guido, “If you can recommend someone who has the skill necessary and the desire to accompany us on The La Rosa del Mar, have them contact me through the Casa de Contratación in Seville.” And with that, the pair departed.

Leonardo turned to Guido and asked "What did he mean, father?" "He wants a cartographer to travel with them and chart maps on their voyage, a few months from now, leaving from Barcelona," hesitantly offered Guido. "What about the La Rosa del Mar that the Captain mentioned?" "Yes, that is the ship they will be on for the voyage. Why do you ask my son? " "Well," Leonardo responded with new-found confidence, "I was thinking about broadening my horizons."

"I see, Leonardo," said Guido with a pause. "I would like you to stay and assist me here in the business, but if you feel you must go be prepared to be gone a long time."With that comment, Leonardo's eyes opened wider, as he rushed out the door and ran down the street after the Montoyas. Once telling Captain Montoya of his desire to accompany them, it was up to the Captain to arrange the passage with King Charles when they arrived back in Valladolid. If all went well, Leonardo would meet them back at Barcelona Harbor in two months time.

 

Leonardo paused while viewing his past and looked back at Captain Montoya’s past to get an idea of how his future came to be.

As one of the King's top naval officers, Captain Montoya had sailed to all parts of the Spanish Empire. With that depth of experience, the King was confident that he had chosen the best qualified officer to take on the task of further New World discovery and mapping the passages from the New World to the Orient.  Montoya's orders were to sail aboard the Spanish treasure galleon, “La Rosa del Mar", from Barcelona to Portobello, Panama, where he, his daughter and the cartographer would leave the ship, and cross Panama on foot, for another vessel located on the Pacific side. The La Rosa del Mar would then make its way to Cartagena, Colombia and would become part of the Tierra Firme Fleet, then it would return back to Barcelona laden with gold and other precious commodities.

This would be the first oceanic voyage for young Maria. The loss of her mother the previous winter made the separation with her father unthinkable, even at the hesitancy of his better judgment. The trip could be arduous and hard even on a seasoned sailor, but the fiery conviction of his daughter won out over reason. Maria grew up in the fishing village of Portbou near the border of Spain with France and her mother was from the French city of Narbonne. Her mother, Chanelle, was visiting her uncle's residence at Portbou when she met Miguel Montoya whose family held a vast amount of land growing Citrus in the inland regions of Portbou.

As it was her habit, Chanelle was walking along the beach in the late summer's afternoon, when their two lives intertwined. Miguel had just returned from a military voyage to Egypt. Wanting to find some solitude and refresh his mind, he too, was walking along the beach. Seeing her ahead some distance away, he started picking up his pace, then slowed as he approached within speaking distance. She turned abruptly as he spoke.

"Good Afternoon, Mademoiselle."She, ascertaining if he was well intentioned or not, replied, "Bon Jour, Admiral,".being not quite up on her naval insignias and as to not insult him. He laughed out loud, which took her by surprise and broke the ice of formality. "Thank you for the promotion!" He replied, as he extended his hand to her. "Lieutenant Miguel Montoya of the Spanish Fleet.  I am please to make your acquaintance."

"I am Chanelle D'arcy." As she in turn, extended her hand to his, while sensing a foolish flush come over her face when they touched. "I am here visiting my uncle and enjoying the serenity of the sea...but then you, obviously, love the sea as well, being in the Naval

profession."

 

"Chanelle...such a beautiful name, for such a beautiful lady," Miguel boldly answered, as he unwillingly let go of her delicate hand. "I sense we have much in common besides the sea," releasing the words as if to open a door for her to step into his world.

"You are more than kind, Lieutenant," Chanelle replied, as she turned to continue the walk with him at her side. That walk was the beginning of their lives being joined, first through love, then marriage a year later with Maria being born the following year and brought unspeakable joy into her parent's hearts.

The years came and went, with happiness and prosperity filling their lives.Then when Maria was 16, tragedy struck while she and Chanelle were visting their family in Narbonne, while Miguel was away on one of his many assignments at sea. Chanelle suddenly fell ill, then languishing for months with consumption, died with Miguel still at sea, leaving her daughter, now half child, half woman, to grieve without the comfort of her father for months to come.

Once reunited, the grief stricken Maria, swore she wouldn't let him leave her again, for fear of losing him as well. At the prestigious assignment of the Captain's New World voyage, Maria implored him to beg the King's mercy to allow her to accompany her father. King Charles, being a father and grandfather, felt a deep compassion for the loss of her mother and granted Maria the request. Miguel was more than relieved to let Maria fill the void left by Chanelle's loss.

Maria was young, but strong in spirit and kept her composure like her mother. Her father knew she would be tested in every aspect on this trip, but still felt it better than leaving her in the custody of her aging uncle. As the time grew closer to the day of departure and having gone to Italy. The Captain and his daughter were preparing for the journey to Panama.

At Barcelona Harbor, the Captain and Maria were stowing their belonging aboard “The Rose” as she known by her crew. Looking overboard on the starboard side, Captain Montoya witnessed the assembly of the other passengers coming aboard the gang plank. Only one familiar face stood out, Leonardo Vi, with his three bags of map making instruments, linen canvases and his own personal belongings. Although highly irregular, the young Italian was given favor by the King's appointment to chart the unfamilar seas awaiting them on the Pacific side.

 

“Leo, you have to get ready to go to dinner” said Flo having made arrangements at Raul’s. “Yes, dear” said Leo as he went inside after being in the past.

      COPYRIGHT 2020 Thomas Takao