After Dr. Strong released his daughter, Mac approached him and shook his hand.
"Good to see you, Doc," Mac smiled as he pumped the archaeologist's hand in a strong grip.
"Did you have any problems delivering Rebecca?" the old man asked.
"Not at all, it was a wonderful drive," replied the pilot.
"I would have enjoyed the scenery more if it wasn't passing by at a hundred miles an hour," Rebecca shot out.
Dr. Strong looked up at Mac in surprise. Mac nodded his head.
"I have some business to conclude with Mac here, dear. But if you go into the tent I'm sure you'll find some of the artifacts on the table of great interest."
Rebecca walked over to the tent. Both men watched her silently not speaking until she closed the flap behind her.
"Were you followed?" Hugo asked.
"I believe someone was trying to follow us. I took a circuitous route to get here and lost them some miles back there. I'll stay until after sunset then I will return to the airfield."
"Be careful. My package should arrive in Denver tomorrow. Bring it as soon as possible."
"I'll have it here the day after next, Doc. You better take extra precautions as well," Mac responded.
"Please follow me to the tent. Let me show you what I've uncovered," the old man motioned for Mac to enter the tent.
The two men stepped into the tent. There were two cots at opposite sides of the room. A blanket screened one of the cots from the rest of the tent. This was obviously going to be Rebecca's "room". In the center of the tent was a large circular stone tablet about two feet in diameter on a wooden table. Strange markings covered the tablets surface. Rebecca stood hunched over the tablet studying its features.
"This is it," beamed the archaeologist. "This is the holy grail of the New World."
"I'm sorry if I don't really understand, Doc," Mac said scratching his head. The stone tablet did not strike him as anything particular.
"It looks like a Mayan calendar," Rebecca added.
"Yes, it does. In reality it is a map," Hugo responded excitedly.
"Map?" Mac took a closer look at the tablet. He just could not see how the strange symbols represented a map.
"Not just a map, but THE map."
Both Mac and Rebecca stared at the archaeologist as if he had been out in the sun too long.
"This is the map to the fabled Lost Cities of Gold."
"You mean El Dorado?" Mac asked.
"Yes, and no," The professor began. "El Dorado really means the 'Gilded One'.
"About thirty miles northeast of Bogota lays Lake Guatavita. The conquistadors used to call it 'Lake El Dorado' because the practice of the local chief who would cover himself in gold dust from head to foot. He then would float out to the middle of the lake on a raft where he would throw in golden objects to appease the spirit of the lake.
"Several accounts of this have been written down by the likes of Oviedo, the soldier-historian Pedro de Cieza de Leon, and Padre Pedro Simon. Over the centuries, several golden objects have been retrieved from the lake and there were even attempts by the Spaniards to drain it.
"Over the course of a few years the name El Dorado became synonymous with the lost cities of gold. Many famous explorers from across Europe searched in vain for the cities of gold such as Hernan Perez de Quesada, Philipp von Hutten, and even Sir Walter Raleigh.
"Over time the search for El Dorado, as you call it, became a thing of folk-lore and legend like Atlantis, the Fountain of Youth, or Camelot. However, I believe that there is some truth to the story. I believe that before the Incas, Aztecs or even the older Mayan, Toltec and Moche there was a great culture in South America. I believe that this civilization lost to history spread its culture of goldsmithing, engineering, and religion across much of South and Central America. I also believe that this civilization was the story that the conquistadors heard from the natives which led them to believe in the Lost Cities of Gold."
"Excuse me, Doc, but how does that bring you to the Anasazi? Were they part of this great lost empire?" Mac interrupted.
"No, not at all. We know very little about the Anasazi it is only by coincidence that I am here."
"I don't follow you father," Rebecca piped up.
"In my research in the archives of Madrid I came across a diary from a priest named Rodrigo Martinez de Toledo. He talks about the conquistadors finding a crystal skull in what is now British Honduras in 1578. The skull he claims is the key to the legendary city of El Dorado. This sparked a renewed interest in the Spanish searching for the elusive city. Soon in Mexico a stone tablet," Hugo pointed down at the tablet on the table, "was found in one of the temples. This tablet predated the Aztecs, but the Aztecs held it to be very holy. Rodrigo claims that this tablet was a map that would lead to El Dorado."
"That's interesting, Doc, how did the tablet get up here and what about the key?"
"Yes, two things happened that altered the course of history. The first was that in 1579 the Spaniards put the crystal skull aboard a ship called the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion out of Peru. She was to sail west and put in at Spain. Unfortunately, the ship met up with that seadog Sir Francis Drake. Because the Spanish ship actually carried cannons, it earned the nickname of the Cacafuego. Drake soon captured the ship and transferred all the treasure aboard his ship the Golden Hind.
"Drake fearing that he wouldn't make it back to England and hoping that if he did he would be able to persuade Queen Elizabeth to colonize what is now the Pacific Northwest, New Albion as Drake named it, buried the skull and some treasure in Washington State. Queen Elizabeth burned the records of Drakes passage and forbade him to speak of it. I found the treasure last year, and fear that if I reveal my find, cutthroat fortune hunters will come after me.
"The map was lost two years later when renegade Spaniards stole the map before it could be sent with the treasure fleet to Spain in 1781. The renegades fled north as far as they could before finally taking shelter in some Anasazi ruins. The Navajo tribe soon killed them off.
"That is exactly where I found the stone map. Soon I shall have the key," the archaeologist concluded.
"You mean you have translated the stone?" Rebecca asked.
"Yes, with the help of Rodrigo's journal. I have the map memorized, but I want you, Mac to have the copy that I made for safe keeping." Hugo handed Mac a journal that the pilot stuffed in his back pocket.Posted by deg at May 17, 2006 5:43 PM