The Marble Toucan - 15 - Sun on the Rocks

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.



Additional journalists were coming to Miradorcito, and a National Geographic crew headed by a lost explorer on assignment was told that the burial ground of the queen of the golden disk, was not available anymore. When prompted for the reason that their cherished ground was not there anymore, Clarity told the crew that an explosion inside the large pyramid had turned the remains of the queen to ashes because of a local worker's conflict with a loom that needed repair. Pressed by the journalists of Reforma and El Norte, governor Nobiera declared that the agreement between the Alabastriah Foundation and Ms. Morales that gave use of the land to Zephairi and Fahibian indirectly was now void. Instead, a new agreement returned the land to the members of the Miradorcito community.

Ms. Morales was named conservationist of the new ecovillage of Miradorcito, and a large sum of money was transferred to a local bank, to pay for eco-friendly construction work. The governor began talking more calmly to the press and the TV crews about an economic renaissance for the area of Campeche. Clarity glanced at Ms. Morales standing with Zephairi in front of the large pyramid, observing the carefully orchestrated damage inflicted by Kish. She touched one of the stones on the stair leading to the altar, creating a minor stone avalanche. Zephairi insisted that even the half-pyramid that was left after the explosion was a decent monument for Egypt.

"Why are you so bent on bringing this pyramid back to Egypt?" asked Ms. Morales.

"The French came to Egypt at the time of Napoleon to re-discover the meaning of hieroglyphs, now Egyptologists like myself, can use their knowledge to understand the links between the Egyptian and the Mayan Mysteries."

Clarity reminded Ms. Morales that the citizens of Miradorcito were still in Egypt, stationed by Egyptian authorities at the Multinational Force and Observers south camp near Sharm El Sheikh, on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Fortunately, a civilian contractor, Culver and Namkins, was turning an otherwise daunting stay in a barbed-wire military camp, into a pleasant experience. The company provided amenities found in a small town, like a dining facility, laundry, hairdresser, bank, library and a few social clubs for nightlife. Free transportation to Cairo was available on weekends. All of the assorted items and daily supplies including shaving cream, clothes, stationary, and snacks, were provided by an expat living there, and he was becoming popular with the inhabitants of Miradorcito.

With a few phone calls to the Egyptian embassy in Mexico City, the governor of Campeche requested the issuance of Mexican passports for all members of the Miradorcito community, who were flown on an Egyptair flight back to Mexico, then to Cancún, before stepping inside a bus that led them back home. Ms. Morales held an official referendum and the idea of the ecovillage was approved by a large majority of the villagers, who kept their Egyptian work permits intact, in case some unforeseen event created job problems in their new Miradorcito ecovillage. Kish spent a few weeks repairing his loom, and began working again on the making of colorful huipiles for women from an improvised workshop. Haul trucks hired by Mangrove Barrier Resorts took all the electronic video terminals placed in the outdoor amphitheater back to a warehouse near Fahibian's resort in Belize. The G-Earth excavator was put to use to build new homes for the inhabitants of the community, instead of unearthing Mayan remains, which although having undeniable historical and archaeological interest, had no immediate practical use.

Ms. Morales began accepting that tourism for Miradorcito, managed correctly, was not such a bad thing for the community, because it brought money to it. The large pyramid of Miradorcito, its remains, were dismantled and taken to Chapultepec Park in Mexico city, inside the premises of the National Museum of Anthropology, where it was renamed as the pyramid of Xuleiha. In its place, in Miradorcito, a pyramid made of glass was erected, and inside, Kish and the various craftspeople of the community performed their work in front of two large fountains, which added a touch of water and elegance to the Mayan artifacts exhibited for tourists. Within a few months, new solar powered ecohomes were built with private patios, artistic wood lamps, and colored sofas with local textiles made and designed by Kish himself. Except for the large pyramid, the site of Xuleiha was preserved, offering a picturesque series of artifacts and ancient buildings, blending with the rest of the village and its inhabitants, who were the official keepers of the traditional ways of life of the Mayas.

"Where is all this money coming from?" asked Clarity.

"Grants from private funding sources and some public funds as well. The money granted to Zephairi wasn't being properly channelled. In my view, too much government money was being spent on archaeology, and not enough on the actual development of a real community," said Ms. Morales.

Clarity nodded, thinking that the money in Mexico worked in mysterious ways. They waved good-bye to Parmerin, who returned to his office in Mérida to defend the office space turf of the Institute for Ethnoconservation and Ecology, coveted by Cervera's National Institute of Anthropology. One official group favored the interests of the local indigenous community of Mexico; the other favored the preservation of Mayan ruins to promote tourism and museums. As Clarity had seen, although it was possible to reconcile both aspects of national identity, a struggle for influence prevailed within the higher spheres of the Republic of Mexico and its associated bureaucracy. Clarity drew her own conclusions from the experience at Miradorcito, some of them based on observing the situation of Topanga Canyon resident Joe Falkenrich.

"Gambling does not bring jobs, Lanai, it brings only problems," said Clarity.

"Vegas is doing pretty well though," said Lanai.

Clarity chose to ignore the reply, because even she reluctantly had to accept that she enjoyed her stays at a place like the Bellagio resort at times. After having recovered the marble toucan that Lanai had hid in the temazcal stone bath, Ms. Morales finally thanked the librarian for her interest in the Mysteries, saying that the librarian was not ready to understand the full meaning of them. Lanai insisted but the head of the village was firm: No more knowledge of the Mysteries for her.

"I'm not ready, can you believe she said that?"

"Well, she knows more than you," said Clarity, "swallowing the serpent may be more dangerous than you think." Clarity appreciated Lanai’s interest in the Mysteries, but the Malibu teleoperator was glad that the door on that had finally closed. It was time to move on. Thinking about the future, Clarity was ready to go back to Malibu, and the prospect of being back with Brock Cheevers was exciting. Still, she was very much hoping that her librarian friend would be joining her, and Clarity thought of a way to ensure that could happen. She took a closer look at the notes written by the Hawaiian librarian: observations about the meaning of the Mayan calendar, about the codex discovered at Miradorcito, along with photographs Lanai had taken of the site, and about the pages of the codex itself. It was an impressive collection and one that was probably going to bring a flock of tourists to the renovated village. The codex had been carefully enshrined in a glass box that was now on display inside the glass pyramid that had replaced the tall pyramid. Clarity closed Lanai’s journal and dialled the library of Malibu in California. She convinced the head of the library, Mrs. Theodora Marples, that the Malibu library and community would benefit from an exhibit on the Mayas' codices, and that Lanai was the perfect person to do that because she had material coming from primary sources. After a few minutes of coaxing the head librarian, Mrs. Marples accepted to hire back Lanai.

After lunch, Fahibian’s crew left Miradorcito, and Duldu was seen complaining to Fahibian about his promotion.

"Well, you lost the keys of that excavator, we'll see about your promotion as receptionist. First we have to take care of the slot machines and the electronic gaming terminals, and bring them back to Belize," said Fahibian. His girlfriend wasn't happy that he had lost money in Miradorcito, and she wanted a rock climbing wall built on the premises of the Moneghetti Suites in Ambergris Caye. Flower came to talk to Clarity about her future plans.

"Zeph wants me to go to Egypt with him," said Flower, "he says he's going to study the origin of the ancient cult of the crocodile there."

"What are you thinking?"

"I've never been to Egypt, I think I'm going to go, I need some additional experience in my ethnographer CV."

Clarity and her friends met inside their new temporary quarters, a nice ecohome with rustic décor, on loan for a few days, before a flock of tourists from Texas and Los Angeles was due to arrive and stay in them. Cynthia and Taimi wanted to go back to Malibu for a while, liking the idea of returning home, and Jenna wanted to return to Acapulco, to work at Señor Frogs, or work on the City of Wellington, the ocean liner which felt like a second home. As usual, the main problem for them was money, how to get back to Malibu. The City of Wellington, the ocean liner which made the trip from Los Angeles to Acapulco, was leaving the Mexican port of Acapulco within a few days, and Jenna had convinced the captain of the ship, Captain Harvey Opreim, that Sun on the Rocks, the synchronized swimming act that Clarity and her friends had put in place before their stay in Acapulco, was ready to perform again for another trip. The group agreed to board the City of Wellington and pay for their return ticket to Los Angeles by working on the ocean liner.

Thanking them for their work in Miradorcito, Ms. Morales paid for Clarity and her friends’ flights from Cancún to Acapulco with money provided by the Alabastriah foundation. Clarity enjoyed the Mexican tourist resort, and also the idea of boarding the City of Wellington again and seeing Mr. LT, the barman who made the most exotic and sometimes spicy cocktails.

After a few days of sun tanning in Acapulco, Clarity and her friends boarded the large ocean liner, which was ready to take them home. Captain Opreim was on the local television news and on a You Tube channel, explaining that the City of Wellington was virtually a floating city. Artfully answering the questions of an attractive anchor-woman, the captain added that the ship was planning to tour world festivals and resorts, with a mix of passengers wanting to meet new people, along with some residents who valued privacy, but lived on the ship year round. Some of the residents of the City of Wellington, which was considered ocean-front property, were members of a private club on the ship, and enjoyed elevators with access only to their rooms. Over one hundred shops added a lively atmosphere to the ship, along with several nightclubs, a casino, a tennis court, a golf course, and a golf simulator, which the captain particularly enjoyed.

Yes, thought Clarity, with a waiting list to get onboard, and a showroom in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive ensuring people knew of it, the City of Wellington was doing well. Now she wondered, how on earth could someone like her, a teleoperator with a moderate understanding of how capital and large sums of money moved from one place to the next actually make some serious money? Or build a prosperous place or business like the City of Wellington, or the ecovillage at Miradorcito? That was a question that she hoped her level-headed friend Brock Cheevers would help her answer in Southern California. She breathed deeply, enjoying every bit of air filling her lungs. Her fingertips were warm, shaking with a sense of anticipation and in some ways relief. She was returning home to Malibu and to her job at Stevenson Garden Products, the only clothing optional company in the U.S., where all of its teleoperators worked together, and sometimes also clothed together.


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