The roller coaster's picking up steam. When I got back to the condo last night I went straight to bed. After three days on, all I wanted was a good night's sleep.
This morning I couldn't shake the feeling that someone had been in the condo. Maybe even as recently as last night. I checked the tapes and everything seemed fine- that is if you ignore the fact that someone had reset the systems at about 23:00 last night.
I decided it was time to give the place a thorough cleaning. I dusted everything... and found 2 bugs and a micro camera. I'm getting really tired of just how insecure the security is around here.
I started up the CD player and started listening to Santana. I was dusting the CD's when I noticed that the boxes were old style fruit boxes. Oranges... Naranjas... I thought about the final clue and looked at the boxes. Not just oranges- Navel oranges.
I could feel that all too familiar chill running up my spine. Naranja del Mundo... I had to go back to my notes, but now I had an idea what this was all about.
I finished dusting and vacuuming and then headed for the library.
I wasn't sure where to start so I started back with the conquistadors: Their quest for gold and power; the religious aspects of the quest; the people's the met- and conquered.
The Aztecs, the Mayans- the Incas. I knew that one Incan stronghold had never been found by the conquistadors: Machu Picchu. And the Incas did indeed have lots of gold.
I got the shivers again as I read about the Incan capital- Cusco- also known as 'The Navel of the world.'
I wanted to laugh, to sing- to hit the boys upside their heads.
Seventeen days to go.
This morning I found the source of the orange crates, or more to the point, they found me. I was about to make my rounds at the police station when two of the local kids knocked on my door.
It was fund raiser time for the local high school band, and they were selling oranges.
I found out that the boys always bought a dozen Navel oranges from them. Seems they 've been selling oranges the first week in May for almost seven years now.
I'm beginning to wonder just how long the boys have been planning this little scavenger hunt.
I ended up getting their usual order. 75 nuyen for a dozen oranges: I guess it was worth it. It proved that I'm on the right track. That, or I'm so confused it doesn't matter anymore.
I held one of the oranges and smelled it as I looked around the condo. In sixteen days, I might have the answers I've been looking for. Maybe, just maybe- I'll have my family back.
I can't begin to describe the conflicting emotions that have been going through my mind lately. I have no idea what is going on, but I know the when and the where. I'm happy, elated even... and terrified out of my mind. I only know that I need to be in Cusco by the 20th.
There's still the question of how to get there. And how to get Case there with me without really telling him the details until we get there.
We've avoiding really saying anything about it for so long and I know he doesn't want me to handle this on his own- but I don't know anymore.
Maybe I should talk to Fin, but he's been acting so ... Fin-like lately that I don't know what's going on.
We'll work it out.
Cinco de Mayo! --Proving once again that people will find any reason to party.
It was amazing the number of Cinco de Mayo parties going on today. I doubt half the people celebrating even knew what the party was about- but there was a party and that's all that seemed to matter.
Since I've been researching Mayan history for Ayana, I've learned a lot of things. Unfortunately, history is written by the victors. In the case of the Mayans, the difference is they were the first 'American' culture to develop its own writing system. Things long forgotten in the passage of time, and the annals of history.
Cinco de Mayo seems so recent in comparison to the days of the Conquistadors. A battle won by the hard pressed Mexican people. Free of Spain, losing land to the then US and owing money to France they were in pretty bad shape.
France invaded and they fought back. They won the battle- the Battle of the Puebla. It is that victory that is celebrated.
Interestingly enough, they lost the war and Mexico city was held by the French for the next 5 years. Still, I think it's a tribute to the people that they celebrate the victory. And it was no mean feat-- France sent in trained, well armed soldiers and the Mexicans held them off. I guess it does say something for the people- take what victories you can, even when you know you can't win.
It seems to be part of the history of the peoples the Conquistadors found and fought. Even when defeated, they still managed to claim victories of their own.
I've been doing a lot of research on these people and they are absolutely amazing.
These people, the 'primitive', 'superstitious', 'uncultured' people the Conquistadors met-- the Mayans, who were one of the first cultures to develop the concept of zero- who developed and extremely accurate calendar. The Azteca with their beautiful city of Tenochtitlan built on an island in the middle of a lake. The Incans, with their systems of roads and irrigation that mirrored the accomplishments of the Roman empire- at its height, it was the largest nation on earth...
Again, reality vs the 'facts' recorded by the victors.
And then there is Cusco, the center of the Incan world- where it all began for them. Where my search may end for me.
There is so much to learn and only 15 days to figure it all out. I have to get Case in on this.
Case found the answer to my dilemma. I knew when and where, but not much else- especially not how to get there. His solution floored me.
"Jess," his voice was even and I swear I caught him smiling. "Why don't we just get married- you decide when, and where we go for our honeymoon."
He knew. He knew I had something that we'd need to move and that, at his instruction, I couldn't give him all the details, at least not until it was time.
The only problem was- I didn't want our wedding to be a part of this. I wanted it to be something special, just for us.
Still, it was this stupid quest that brought us together- perhaps it was appropriate.
I think he understood, his words told me he did.
"Jess, any time we have together is special, and if there's one thing I have learned is- you make the time the right time, nobody else is going to do it for you.
"How about next weekend?" I asked. I was only half joking- but if I wanted us in Cusco on the twentieth, that was what it was going to take.
His eyes widened slightly and he smiled. "I think it's a week later than I'd like, but it'll do."
Just like that.
We've both got some arrangements to make if we're going to make things happen next week. Still, I do have two weeks of vacation coming and if I don't use them I lose them.
Its not exactly what I planned, but like Case said- you make the time. Still, I can't help but feel like I'm missing something here.
I put in my request for time off and got interrogated by personnel.
From their view I just had two weeks off, more if you count the time I was... stuck in a cave. When they found out that it was for my honeymoon- they questioned it even harder.
Was I sure? Was this really what I wanted or was I reacting to the stress of what I'd recently been through?
If it were stress induced, I'd have married the man a week after I'd met him. Somehow, I'd thought that getting married would have been the best reason and way of getting the time off. I don't think I'll ever understand personnel.
I finally convinced them, told them that with his job, finding a time when we're both free would be impossible. Heck, planning for a camping trip fell through due to an earthquake- there's just no telling.
It was finally approved. After this week, I don't come back until the 29th. At which time, I start my new shift downtown- Tuesday-Friday 0500-1900.
Who knows- Case and I might even have a little time for ourselves.
I'd planned on calling folks and trying to make arrangements for the wedding today, but you know what they say about plans.
I did manage to get a hold of Trina at about 17:00. She was so happy for us. She told me not to worry about a thing and that she would take care of the arrangements. I started to object, but she was right, with my schedule, the soonest I'd be able to start is Thursday, and that would mean pushing things on into next week.
This is going to be interesting- I have no idea where we're going to hold the wedding, who'll be there, who will be presiding over it... nothing. And from the looks of things I'm not going to have any idea until Thursday.
Especially not with the activity we've seen today: no less than four accidents, some with fatalities. You know, now that I look at it I wonder why I waited so long, even before Case proposed. Life is too short to wait for that picture perfect moment. You need to appreciate what you have when you've got it in your own two hands.
You know, its true for this quest as much as anything else. I can worry about it until I'm insomniatic but it isn't going to change a thing. Whatever's going to happen will happen, with or without me.
If I let it get to me, I'm not going to be able to do whatever it was the boys wanted me to do when the time comes.
T-minus 12 and counting.
I'd like to say today was simple, easy and not emotionally taxing, but I can't. There were a lot of reminders why we do what we do- but there were also reminders that we aren't God. We can't save everybody, sometimes you're lucky if you can just get them to the hospital.
Its hard sometimes when you have a seventy-five year old cardiac patient who refuses to take care of himself, doesn't care... and you can save him. But you can't save the fifteen year old kid who got side swiped by someone who shouldn't have been behind the wheel.
Its not fair, but I knew that a long time ago. We're mortal, I've known that for a long time too - never really had a problem with it. That is, except when I remember that the people I love are mortal too.
Just when I thought the day couldn't get any worse- it was over.
I headed out into the night, feeling free. In just a few days, Case and I will be married and on our way to Amazonia. I'd almost made it out of the parking lot before I saw Smiley, Terry and Tristan heading my way.
I waved at them and they pulled up next to me. I'd forgotten about the debriefing and review down at the arcade. I wanted to beg off, but this is part of my life too. I have to figure I'll be back and that the job will need to be done.
Little did I know that Trina had not only arranged my wedding and guest list, she'd also made sure that all the sideline traditions were maintained as well.
Okay, everybody at my wedding shower were guys, but they were my friends. We drank beer and wore funny hats. It was priceless when the waiter at O'Brien's found out it was my bridal shower.
He just shook his head and wandered away, muttering about weirdos. Still the guys made sure I properly celebrated the end of my bachelorettedom. Ray even kissed me and said that he's glad I found someone who loved me- and didn't think of me as a sister.
It was a very nice, but emotional end to the day. When I got home, I just curled up with the cats and fell asleep.