Summary of the amusement
Teleoperator Clarity Nice and her friend ethnographer Flower Parkwood, reach the picturesque village of Miradorcito in the state of Campeche in Mexico. Brought to Campeche in a colorful guagua, Clarity works alongside Flower in an archaeological site to make some pocket money, using Flower's 'permiso de arqueologia', an observation and archaeological dig permit granted by Flower's boss, Egyptologist Akhris Zephairi. Zephairi's Alabastriah Foundation, funded by the Museum of Cairo, is looking for new areas to dig in Miradorcito, hoping to find authentic Mayan archaeological ruins which will stand along a gambling resort also sponsoring Zephairi's work.
Clarity ran past the explosives tent to the forest, where Kish was waiting, hidden behind a tall Ceiba tree. The night was cool and Clarity was wearing a thin sweater. She wanted to head for their campground but after fifteen minutes of rubbing her hands to stay warm, there was no explosion. She began thinking that something in Kish’s setup wasn't completely right. Of course, what wasn't completely right was that if the explosion took place, she could end up in jail for damage to the cultural heritage of Mexico. But the meddling of Zephairi and Fahibian with a whole community of honest village inhabitants got on her nerves, and she really didn't want to see gambling in Miradorcito, and more Joe Falkenriches walking around. She tapped Kish on the shoulder and shared her thoughts. The craftsman rubbed his hands against the bark of the ceiba tree to warm up and agreed with her.
"You may be right, this delay is somewhat odd. Let's go check, the pyramid should probably have exploded by now," he said.
"You go check," said Clarity, "I'll ensure everything goes well strategically."
"Yeah, from a distance, ensuring everything is carried out properly and is in place. For instance, are you sure you want to do this?"
Kish scratched his eyebrow.
"Yes, I can't work with my loom, I don't have a job, and I’m losing my home. Zephairi tried to change my thinking and get rid of me with Turbina corymbosa, he bullied the whole village out of its land, so it's not getting the pyramid or any benefit derived from the pyramid."
"All right, that's pretty sound thinking, looks like the strategy is in good shape. Did you set the detonator?"
"The detonator?" Kish paced back and forth several times, somewhat irritated by the question. He answered Clarity after a few minutes of thinking and pointed with his index towards one of the corners of the pyramid.
"No, it's an explosive which is placed over there, should work by itself."
"No, you need a detonator, it's an explosive to trigger the explosive," said Clarity.
"Should be in the explosive tent," said Kish.
Kish grabbed Clarity by the arm and led her to the explosive tent. There was no detonator there, finding instead some detonator cord wrapped around a large reel. They set up the plastic coated cord holding the primary explosive inside, walking to each corner of the large pyramid, lying two hundred feet apart.
On their way to the forest, Kish ran across Duldu, who was going to one of the bathrooms.
"Hi," said Kish.
"Hi," said Duldu, "your face seems familiar." Kish slowed down and adopted a debonair look, placing his hands in his pockets.
"Just taking a walk around the pyramid."
"Take a good look, it's getting dismantled tomorrow," said Duldu.
Fahibian's henchman, half asleep, stepped closer to the craftsman, who was already running away towards the forest. A few minutes later, Kish pulled together the four meshes of the detonator cord, hiding with Clarity behind one large tree, about nine hundred feet away from the pyramid. Finally, they were getting somewhere.
"Do you think it's enough to bring the pyramid down?"
"The explosive looks pretty small, but then again, it is explosive. Do you have the match?" asked Clarity.
"This is not automatic?"
"You need a match to ignite the fuse."
"Hold on, I'll go to our campground and ask Ms. Morales."
Luckily, there was a match inside Ms. Morales’ tent, and Kish ran back two miles, breathing heavily, using the match to ignite the explosive a few hundred feet away from where they were standing. The fuse performed according to specified instructions and a loud explosion pierced the silence of the night. After a few minutes, they stepped closer to check the result of their mission, somewhat stunned by the noise and the cloudy fumes left by the shattering. Clarity could see that the pyramid was half as tall, with the foundation blown to pieces. A large stone had landed a few feet away from them. Kish could not hide his satisfaction, he was substantially enthusiastic about the explosion; it was his own interpretation of the Mayan notion of zero, of nothing being left for Zephairi to loot. If his loom wasn't working, the pyramid would not stand, at least not as tall as it was built, he felt vindicated.
"It's half as tall," said Clarity.
"It's my first explosion, not bad, let's go back to the campground, I'm exhausted," said Kish.
The next day, rumors of the explosion reached the local press, and a few calls by Parmerin brought several television crews to the site of Xuleiha. Journalists from Reforma and El Norte investigated the environmental impact report written by Fahibian's real estate company for the governor of Campeche and they found it fraudulent. There was no evidence of bids submitted by other real estate companies, or minutes stating the scoping procedure that was required, before a gambling project could be approved by a community. Clearly, the villagers of Miradorcito had no say in what was happening to their community, and in fact, the local inhabitants of the poor Campeche village had disappeared. In any case, the proper contract award procedure had not been followed, and it was likely that the governor had received a bribe from Mangrove Barrier Resorts. There was no evidence of a bribe, but in Mexico, it was likely that some money had exchanged hands to allow the real estate development papers to be in place. Within a few days, an investigation to a local bank led to evidence of a wire transfer to the governor of Campeche from a resort in Belize associated with the interests of Fahibian.
Clarity took the bus to the airport of Cancún with Ms. Morales, who wanted the people of Miradorcito brought back to their village before she confronted Zephairi directly in the mother of all negotiations, to recover the right to use the land of Miradorcito for crop cultivation. They walked to the Egyptair counter, and a stewardess told them that the plane carrying the inhabitants of Miradorcito was not in Mexico, it had flown to Egypt. If it had flown to Egypt, it could fly back to Mexico, thought Ms. Morales.
"Bring them back," Ms. Morales said with determination.
"Things are not that simple Miss. We need visas, authorization and proper papers, and also the approval of those travelling," said the woman, "talk with Mr. Zephairi, he should be able to help you or know what to do."
"They are Mexican citizens from Miradorcito, they don't need visas to return to Mexico."
"They are Egyptian citizens now, they need visas to get back into Mexico and become Mexican citizens again," said the stewardess. After an exchange of opinions and counter opinions, Ms. Morales managed to fill out a form headed for the suggestion box of Egyptair, which the stewardess said would reach the senior managers of the airline, requesting the issuance of visas for all members of Miradorcito living in Egypt.
"When will those managers receive this form?" The stewardess checked her calendar.
"Probably within a month or two, Mexico is not that close to Egypt."
"It's only a few hours by plane," said Ms. Morales.
"This route to Mexico is not that much of a priority I mean, you can fill out another form if you'd like Egyptair planes to fly more frequently to Cancún, so that the agenda of the senior directors can be modified, and so that they can look into this matter earlier."
Exasperated, Ms. Morales filled out a second form, sighed and walked away from the counter. They headed back to Miradorcito, and Parmerin immediately began doing research on the source and use of the money surrounding the project of Miradorcito. He also arranged for the site of Xuleiha to be under surveillance, but from a distance. While he took several photographs of the Xuleiha site, Clarity observed what was happening inside Miradorcito with Ms. Morales. Near the area of the explosion, Duldu headed a crew and began dismantling the remains of the large pyramid. Zephairi was overseeing the dismantling work being done with excavators and haul trucks, and he was hoping that the pyramid was still large enough to attract tourists in Egypt. The Egyptologist saw Fahibian’s car approach the camp, and Zephairi made his way past the newspaper and television crews to bring the real estate developer with his girlfriend and the governor of Campeche inside his tent. Unfortunately for Casey, there was no more climbing wall on the large pyramid. Bolstered by the sight of the real estate developer, Ms. Morales jumped over a series of bushes towards the sentinel turret, coming face to face with Duldu, who was doing his best to keep the journalists and television crews from overwhelming the construction workers charged with security. The perpetrator of the explosion had created a mess, thought Duldu, and his promotion in Belize as receptionist was now at risk. He placed his hand on his head reaching for the cap that said ‘security’, but found only his hair. The cap was paramount for his authority and credibility as keeper of the archaeological grounds. He noted the need to buy it in his mind, and then raised his hand in a gesture aimed at stopping Ms. Morales from entering the camp.
"We want to see Mr. Zephairi," said Ms. Morales.
"You can't see him," said Duldu, "Mr. Zephairi is talking with Mr. Fahibian and the governor of Campeche inside Mr. Zephairi's tent."
Hearing the statement by Duldu, a queue of thirty five journalists and five television crews made their way past the sentinel turret, invading the grounds of the new resort, filming everything around them, including the gambling amphitheater, which had about one hundred gamblers stuck to their slot machines.
Clarity and Ms. Morales walked towards Zephairi's tent, followed by Kish and Parmerin. They opened the back end of the tent to all journalists and the television crews, who began filming inside. Fahibian and the governor had no option but to face Ms. Morales in front of the media, and Zephairi had no option but to let Fahibian speak. Confronted with a potential bribing scandal and with the scandal of the eviction of Miradorcito's population, the governor of Campeche improvised a press conference and told the news reporters that an unfortunate procedural mistake had been carried out in Miradorcito, resulting in an unfortunate relocation of its inhabitants. One journalist lifted his microphone towards the governor.
"Will a referendum be carried out regarding the building of the ecovillage?"
"Yes," said the governor. Cameras began to flash, and a thirty year old YouTuber with a channel known as Carlitos Notifies and Talks to the Community stood besides the governor.
"When was the first time you were corrupted? Was it before, or after you were elected governor?"
"There is no corruption in Mexico, that is a thing of the past," said the governor. Carlitos Notifies notified his You Tube channel viewers of the inaccuracy of the governor statement, replacing the word past with the word present.
"If it becomes a thing of the past, it will be thanks to us," said Ms. Morales.
The governor, Mr. Rodolfo Nobiera, spoke curtly to Zephairi, asking him to bring food inside the tent. A haul truck filled with food and refreshments was unloaded within minutes by Duldu. Ms. Morales was beaming a smile for the first time in weeks. She took Clarity by the arm, taking her aside.
"We got what we wanted," said Ms. Morales, "I have to say your idea to solve the predicament facing the village carried us quite far. Sometimes, it is better to ask for the right help, rather than trying to solve a whole problem on your own. The village is going to look normal again."
"Yes, no more gambling here in Miradorcito," said Clarity.
"I was right in believing in my talisman, the toucan provided the perspective I needed to sustain the threat to the community coming from this belligerent nuisance called Zephairi. I knew there was a way to restore Miradorcito." Clarity whispered in the ear of Ms. Morales.
"I knew there was a way to get rid of Zephairi and his excavation work." A new thought emerged from the busy mind of Ms. Morales.
"Are you sure there's going to be enough money to fund the ecovillage?"
Hearing the word money, a flock of journalists raised their microphones towards Ms. Morales. She felt the support and raised her arms above her head, thanking everyone present.
"It feels so good to speak in front of a crowd like you, soon I'll be able to do the same in front of the original members of the Miradorcito community," said the head of the village.
Ms. Morales spoke firmly in front of the media, arguing that there was an economic rationale to build an ecovillage in Miradorcito that could live off its crafts, its natural charm, and its Mayan artifacts and pyramids, which could be shown to tourists. The path of the one hundred thousand dollars needed to fund the solar panels to be used as heat for new eco-palapas, was more difficult to trace, but Ms. Morales made a good attempt at ensuring the money was there for the village, taking counsel from some suggestions by Parmerin.
"The National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Alabastriah foundation have received some money, more than three hundred thousand dollars from Mangrove Barrier Resorts," said Ms. Morales.
"That is correct," said Zephairi.
Fahibian turned to the Egyptologist, surprised by the speed of his avowal. The real estate developer hoped for some additional margin to negotiate his interest. Zephairi was a well known man in Egypt and he wanted to stay away from any facts or rumors, which would taint his reputation or his strong position within the Alabastriah foundation.
"Some of those funds have reached the municipality of Campeche, but they were meant for the Mexican Institute for Ethnoconservation and Ecology and for Miradorcito."
Ms. Morales looked at the governor in the eye, surrounded by journalists and television crews, who were incessantly photographing the governor, observing his reactions.
"I am sure my subordinates can explain what happened," said the governor, displaying a poker face resilient to negative opinions of him or his management of the state of Campeche. Ms. Morales stepped towards the governor to speak and a bundle of microphones moved towards her face to listen.
"Well, ensure your explanation comes across for the whole region of Campeche, the situation for Miradorcito has to be as clear as Chaparrellas spring water," she said, referring to a national brand of bottled water. A journalist supported Ms. Morales immediately, asking a relevant question.
"The one that has actual mineral water and only has twenty eight chemical pollutants?" Ms. Morales nodded.
"Yes, that one, the rest of the bottled waters in Mexico have seventy three or more pollutants mixed in regular tap water," she said.
Nobiera was nearing re-election period and he wanted goodwill to remain intact so that his voters agreed to elect him for a second term. He agreed to give back ownership and use of the land in Miradorcito to its inhabitants. In particular, he returned the land to its representative, Ms. Morales, who felt vindicated of all the turmoil created by Zephairi and Fahibian. The head of village spoke to journalists and to Nobiera about her marble toucan to illustrate how Mayan traditions were being kept by people like her, to preserve the spirit of community and goodwill.
"This battle has been won through hard work and the stubborn insistence of a few people who understand that values, principles and traditions are more important than crude financial gain, and that it is morally wrong to bully people out of their village, and worse! Out of the country. Thanks to this courageous, intrepid, plucky effort, we know now that those values are alive today; they are not buried inside a Mayan pyramid, which is five hundred years old. My marble toucan embodies those values today."
"It embodies the Mysteries too," added Clarity for the sake of clarity. Kish walked in front of the journalists, grabbing one of the microphones.
"My loom is not a mystery, it is a craft, and I can carry on with that craft and with my work now," said Kish. Ms. Morales stared at him inquisitively, raising her eyebrows, looking for some additional answers from the craftsman.
"Hmmm, yes, I see, I can carry on with my work thanks to the spirit of the toucan belonging to our cherished village head, Ms. Morales, which embodies balance and resourcefulness," he added. He then pointed his hand towards Ms. Morales and the journalists erupted in an uproar of interest and reverence, taking photographs of the mature head of Miradorcito. Ms. Morales turned towards Clarity.
"Can you get me the toucan, Clarity?" she asked.
Clarity nodded and left the tent, looking around for Lanai, who had stayed in Flower's tent, studying the codex in detail.
"Where is the marble toucan?" asked Clarity, "Ms. Morales needs it."
"It's hidden in a safe place, I can only tell Ms. Morales."
"You still don't trust me?" asked Clarity.
"Do you want to be an adept?"
"No," said Clarity.
"Then the principle of secrecy prevails, it's pretty usual with Mystery Schools, they don't reveal anything that has to do with the egregore."
The egregore was an occult concept representing 'thought forms' or the mind of the collective group, a psychic entity influencing the thoughts of people.
"It's kind of a group mind," said Lanai, "when people act together with the same purpose in mind, in this case our purpose is preserving the knowledge of the Mayan Mysteries represented by the toucan."
"The group mind is basically you and Ms. Morales," said Clarity.
"For now, yes, for now it is."
Clarity sighed, somewhat annoyed by Lanai's reaction, but glad to hold on to her spiritual independence. They stepped out towards an area filled with a few bushes, behind the tent of Duldu. Lanai used a round head shovel borrowed from Flower's archaeological equipment to dig a small hole. The marble toucan reappeared intact, hidden beside one of the tent poles, twelve inches below the ground. They walked back to the tent with the journalists, where the press conference was being held, with Lanai holding the talisman, which had apparently performed its duties correctly. The librarian from Hawaii gave the precious small statuette to Ms. Morales, who grabbed it triumphantly, holding the figurine's beak in front of Nobiera's nose, somewhat similar in shape and size. Clarity found Kish requesting the repair of his loom, and Fahibian making some statements about his company's position and role in the development of Miradorcito. Mangrove Barrier Resorts was changing its role from real estate development company, to sponsoring agent of a sustainable ecosystem in Miradorcito that would allow it to keep its real estate reputation intact in Mexico, and open to future projects.
"We'll sponsor a few solar panels here," said Fahibian. "Our slot machines will be brought back to our gambling resort in Belize. There needs to be more education on gambling to make it viable in this part of Mexico."
Flower entered the tent; whispering immediately in Clarity's ear that Zephairi wasn't paying attention to her, or to her work. That lack of mentorship had led her to the gambling amphitheater area, and to keep company with Clarity's friends.
"Do you know how to play electronic baccarat? Cynthia and Taimi are challenging me."
Clarity thought about how her friend Joe Falkenrich was kicked out of a Las Vegas casino after trying to get inside a large jackpot box made of transparent plastic and leave with a bag of coins. Clarity knew what was good for Flower, or at least she knew what wasn't good for her. Even though her friends had the attitude or the strength to withstand some gambling, Clarity saw that Flower could not deal with a large gambling loss. Although appearing strong, the ethnographer often needed support, and Clarity understood her better than other people.
"No, you're doing fine, believe me, you don't need gambling at this point."
"Just for fun," said Flower.
"No," said Clarity.
"For learning how to play?" Flower persisted.
Clarity remained firm. “No, you're a great ethnographer."
"Thank you," said Flower, "now I don't have to learn how to gamble."
TO BE CONTINUED, THE MARBLE TOUCAN
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