"A Separate Path""Good morning fella...nice hat...shall we get going now? we are all here."
The man called Esteban nods in return.
In addition to Max; Dr. Loder and Sgt. Kestrel have also departed on the fishing boat, and soon the fishing boat is away from the freighter, and arriving at a small dock. Esteban ties the boat up, and motions for you to follow him into the tree line.
A Second man approaches "¿Usted habla español?"
Dr. Loder looks up. "Sí, hablo español. Mi nombre es el doctor Loder."
All conversation with this man is in Spanish with Dr. Loder translating. "He says his name is Paco, and this is his brother, Esteban. They have offered to help us acquire the mules and local guides for our trip."
There is more discussion and Loder fills Max and John in on the situation; "If you guys are ready to get going, the horse will do for our bags. Esteban says it won't take long to get there. There will be about three dozen Nazis in Santa Boca, but they shouldn't be too difficult to avoid."
John tips his hat to the brothers to show them he appreciates their effort."Gracias."
Max handles over his backpack to the horse's back."Ok let's get going then.."
They begin to lead the way up a winding foot path. Above your heads strange and colorful birds cry out to each other from perches amongst high trees and heavy bushes. Many fly overhead, snatching up stray gnats.
The path is narrow enough that you are forced to walk single file.
Paco takes the lead and Esteban follows last behind the party leading the horse by the reins. The Heavy forest rises up surrounding you on either side of the winding path. You can hear the sound of the waves crashing ashore, but you can no longer see the water.
Max scans the whole area around them the whole time...he does not trust anyone, especially in this part of the world and when he is dealing with nazis...fortunately the jungle is not such a big issue for him. His superior tracking skills allow him to spot danger first. He spots a coral snake on a rock up ahead on the trail while Paco is heading exactly that way “WAIT! PACO stay still”"Shit!
John exclaims as he hears Max' warning to Paco and reflexively draws his Colt. Reflexively translating Max's warning, Dr. Loder grabs Paco's shoulder. "¡Tenga cuidado, hay una serpiente de coral!"
Paco starts in surprise. "¡Oh! ¡Gracias mi amigo! ¡Gracias! No vi la serpiente. ¡Me disculpo!"
Paco takes his tall walking stick, and uses it to get below the snake and to hurl it into the jungle, making the path clear to walk again. He again takes the lead, walking about ten feet further ahead of the group than he had before. Clearly, he doesn't want to be shown up by gringo Max again.
The vast greenery of the plants and trees is just... everywhere. The sounds of birds echo throughout the tree canopy above, and flying insects of all shapes, sizes and colors flutter or buzz by. The gnats have eased up, but there are still too many. The morning was beginning to get warmer as well, adding to the thick layer of humidity that clung to everything. Sweat fills your shirts, and your hair is slick with it. It should be getting close to lunch time soon. You should be in town by then you realize, and can easily grab a bite to eat.
Paco speaks to Loder and once again Loder translates, "We're coming up on a small fishing village, Santa Boca is just beyond it."
John puts his Colt back in its holster. "Ah, that's good news. Let's hope there are less gnats there."
The trail widened, eventually they reached a small fishing community preparing to take carts of fish to the Market in Santa Boca. As the group entered the town, most people looked their way and gave them a friendly nod.
An older woman stopped to speak with Paco. She spoke in low tones. As the group walks passed the older woman, she gives the party a hard stare. A group of children sit in a half-circle around a graying old man. He sits on a stump, and holds his wooden cane in his gnarled hands. “¿Usted desea de oír la historia cómo mi padre y yo vinimos ser buscados por El Abuelo?”
he asks the children.
Dr. Loder stops at the old man's words. "¿El Abuelo?" “Story time señores. For the children, but I won’t try to stop you if you wish to listen as well.”
Loder, turning to the others, rummages through his bag and pulls out his journal. "Let's take a rest for a moment, I want to hear this."You sure we got the time for that, Doc? I don't want to keep the others waiting."
Kestrel points out."This shouldn't take long, anyways, these old stories and legends tend to provide insight into the local area."If you say so..."
As the old man begins his story, he speaks rapidly in Spanish and occasional word or phrase in English. Giving grand motions to his words in a way that would excite a child. He makes a 'clawing motion' with both of his hands at the mention of 'The Grandfather'. El Abuelo. "He says that when he was a young man he would go on regular hunting trips with his father. These trips would take them far into the jungle, past forgotten ruins, of places his people have long forgotten.
His father and he had been tracking a wild boar, and had managed to wound it with an arrow. But the boar was tough and ran into a dark cavern. After a few moments, they heard it squeal and then was silent. Certainly it must have fallen into a pit and broken its back.
His dad wanted to give up on it, but the young man insisted that they could get it. They had rope and they had made some torches with which to safely navigate the cave.
So the two men went into the mouth of the cave. There was a terrible smell coming from it, and they decided that there was likely a pit inside that all these animals would stumble into and die. They almost decided to back out, but at this point the son was too excited and wanted to go. So they went deeper, and deeper still. They began to snap dry twigs and sticks under their feet as they went deeper. The two men lowered the torches down to see, and they found the bones of hundreds of animals spread about.
Raising their torches, they found themselves face to face with the legendary creature that these people call 'El Abuelo - The Grandfather'-- It was like a bear in form, but its fur was a grey or tan. Fresh blood stained its muzzle and it chomped down on the wild pig. It’s eyes glowed in the torchlight as it fixed onto the Father and Son.
Then they ran out of the cave. Tripping over bones, they were nearly out of the cave when the creature let out a monstrous scream.
They understood exactly what El Abuelo had said. 'Stay out.'"
Quickly thanking the old man for his tale, Loder turns back to the others. "I've heard stories of this beast before, but never told by one who claims to have seen it himself. This El Abuelo is something of a local boogeyman. A spook story to keep the children from wandering away, and all that. Still, stories like this always have their root in fact. If we had more time, I'd like to explore the area that the old man was talking about."
Max finds the whole story pretty interesting and totally agrees with what Dr Loder commented about stories having their roots in fact. Besides, this was not the first time he was hearing the story about El Abuelo…Yeah, that's a pretty good story, but I doubt it's more than that."
John says skeptically. He’s clearly unimpressed with the local folklore. "Think we can continue on our way, Doc?"
Loder agrees."Good idea... Paco, vamos!"
Even as he says this, your group sees that the fish carts are completely filled, and a large group of the villagers begin to escort the carts from their village. Soon you find yourself arriving at Santa Boca from the north.
The town looks haphazard, with paved roads and buildings at odd angles with one another. The majority of roofs appear to be the red clay Spanish shingles. But every so after thatched huts rise up amongst the crumbling colonial style buildings.
The streets and paths in the city are filled with travelers. Men, women, and children in bright colors and patterns. Horses, mules, and carts of all sizes and shapes move through the congested streets.
The villagers move along, presumably towards to the town square where the Market would most likely be held.
Paco and Etseban hang back a bit, along with your group."Hemos llegado, señores. Éste es ' Puerta de Santa Boca'. ¿Usted necesitó ayuda adicional? Eteban y yo estamos disponibles.""What are they saying Dr Loder?"
Max inquires."He's saying that if we need additional help, they're available. We need to find the others, but first, I think we need a place to stay. Let's find a hotel, shall we?""Perhaps the brothers know of a good hotel? Could you ask them, Doc?"
Turning to Paco, Loder quickly inquires about a safe place to wait for the others. More Spanish is exchanged and Loder gets his answers."Apparently the Germans are staying at the Jaguar and Wolf hotel. Hideaway del Caribe Inn sounds a mite safer. What do you guys think?""Yeah, I don't think shacking up with a bunch of Nazis is a good idea, especially not with the tools I brought and need to prepare..."
Kestrel says. Max agrees "Hideaway del Caribe then! ""Siga."
Paco nods agreeably. He leads the way once again.
He steps in line with a group of locals heading south along a main road.
A broken down 1920’s jalopy blocks traffic as its driver struggles to push it out of the way. Paco leads the group almost in a Congo line through a thick clump of people.
Dr. Loder keeps his eyes trained along the rooflines, taking note of easily remembered landmarks as he follows closely behind Paco. Following the rest of his group John tries to take in the environment in case he needs to navigate the town on his own.
Max is a bit tired to notice anything else besides the hotel they will be staying.
Some papers blow past advertising a bar called 'The Pulpit
You notice a sign at the corner of an alley. There is the painted outline of a hand with an eyeball.
Les Fortunes ~ Lecture de Paume
* Sees All ~ Knows All *
Able to get a good look at their surroundings, they continue south through the town towards the market.