Saturday, March 12, 2011

Heading to St John U.S. Virgin Islands (I THINK?)

As I mentioned in my last post there has been some intriguing secrecy going on in our village. Normally in our village everybody is open and no one hides anything. For the last 6 months when I have returned from some of my travels, Margarite and Bebe have always been acting like they are plotting! You may remember Bebe, she went with us on our trip to France a few years back.

Bebe - is originally from Italy but has lived in Botswana most of her life. Her family came here in the 1960's as part of a missionary, unfortunately in the early seventies Bebe’s parents where both killed in a political uprising. Bebe was 12 at the time. She was then raised by a village family as one of their own. Bebe does not speak much about her past and thinks of herself as a native Botswana. Bebe at an early age got involved with a local animal rescue. This is a big issue in Botswana. Poachers try to smuggle the rare native animals from Botswana and sell them to collectors and sometime legitimate zoos. When customs agents stop poachers from smuggling the animals across the Botswana border, they give the animals to Bebe's group who rehabilitates them and gets them back to their natural habitats. Sometimes the rehabilitation process can take a year depending on how the animals had been treated.

I think I have put many of the pieces together and have figured out the plot. It all started back in October when I was speaking to “The Rock” you may remember “The Rock” from our France trip.

"The Rock" - has been in Botswana for 3 years. He is from Norway, at least that is where he says he is from. “The Rock” does not talk about his past and I think it is some what shady. Botswana is a great place to disappear from your past and I think that is what “The Rock” has done. “The Rock” and Bebe married 2 and a half years ago after a 6 month wild courtship. I think it was a marriage out of pity more then anything else as no one in their right mind would marry “The Rock” I think Bebe looked at “The Rock” as one of the animals she rescues the only issue is she can not seem to now release this animal back in to the wild. I am not sure what “The Rock” does but he says he is always busy.

“The Rock” had been away from Botswana for sometime, most likely stirring up trouble in Northern Africa. While speaking with “The Rock” I asked about doing some traveling together, his reply was. “We have a trip planned in March!” I questioned him a little, but he quickly went silent. I gave the comment no more thought.

That was piece one, though at the time I had no idea I was solving a puzzle.

I have the only PC in our village and many of the folks here will use it to access email and the internet. Back in November I was checking my email, when I logged on, I saw and email from Margarite’s Uncle Fred and Aunt Pat, the email was letting Margarite know she could use their Private Jet (See Picture) for a trip in March from Botswana to St. Johns U.S. Virgin Islands. As I read this email, I realized Margarite had used my PC to check her email and had not logged out. So I was actually reading an email between her and her Aunt and Uncle. This email was not meant for my eyes. I quickly logged out and tried to forget the contents of the email.

So now there were two pieces to the puzzle, and I was starting to think I might need to solve this one. It was now November and March was 5 months away. The only milestone for me in March was my 50th Birthday. Could Margarite be planning a Surprise Birthday Party for me in St. Johns, U.S. Virgin Islands?

Rather then wait for clues I thought I might go look for them. I have become friendly with the Pilot of Uncle Fred and Aunt Pat’s jet. So on one of my trips from Botswana to the United States I found out and coordinated a layover at the same airport that this Pilot would be at. After a few beers he let me see the passenger manifest for the upcoming flight from Botswana to St. Johns. On the flight manifest was, Margarite, Bebe, “The Rock”, myself, and two other passengers. The two others are from England, Mobe and Testa Rossa who had joined us on our France trip.

Mobe - is a professional bicyclists, his focus is on climbing. He was on Lance Armstrong’s team 3 years in a row and won the polka dot jersey 2 times. When Mobe is not biking he is either spoiling Bentley or talking about biking. Mobe has a huge sweet tooth, it is rumored that the small village in England he grew up in had a pastry shop at the top of a very steep hill and every day Mobe would bike to the top of this hill to get a sweet. The rumor attributes this training at an early age to Mobe's great success as a climber.

Testa Rossa - is from England another animal lover maybe even a fanatic about animals. Testa Rossa is married to Mobe. They have one son, Bentley. Testa Rossa claims she trains animals but she really trains the owners of the animals to spoil them. It is all about the love of animals.

Now I had three pieces to the Puzzle, I was starting to see the picture. We were taking the jet to St. Johns to celebrate my 50th birthday. I now had the list of people going, or did I? How can I be sure this is the complete list? Questions I wanted to figure out; Where are we staying, and is anybody else going? It was now January, 3 months to D-day and I wanted to solve this puzzle.

February was approaching, I got and email from Chuata one of our village elders, it was actually an email from Mike one of our companions on our trip, rafting through Hells Canyon a few years back. In the email Mike was telling Chuata that, Mike and Ginseng (Mike’s long time girlfriend) were getting married. A few minutes later I got an email requesting that the first email get recalled. Chuata, not a very technical person, did not know this email feature rarely works, and the recall, just alerts the recipient that there is something in the email that the sender does not want you to see. I reread the email and saw down in the bottom of the email was a conversation between Mike and Chuata, where Chuata mentions he is going to St. Johns in March.

Now, Chuata and Margarite could be smarter then I give them credit for and planted this email to throw me off track. While it makes sense that Chuata would be invited to the party, why was his name not on the flight manifest? So this clue has just confused me, I still do not know the complete guest list, and I have no idea if Chuata is coming or not and if he is bringing his lovely American bride, “Mom”.

My next clue came by pure luck; it was the end of February. I had no idea but Margarite’s family owns an estate in St. Johns (see picture). Apparently the family rarely uses this place so in order to use you must alert the care taker that you will be coming. He then gets it ready for you. To start this process started you have to sign a request document, so Margarite’s family can keep track of who uses the facilities. Margarite must have used my scanner on my PC to scan this document and forgot to delete it from the directory. When I was looking for a document I had scanned I noticed a document called “St. Johns House Caretaker Request Form”. When I opened the document I saw that the family owned this estate in St. Johns called Villa Tesori on Rendezvous Bay, St. Johns, and Margarite had requested to use it for a week in March.

So now I knew where we would be staying, or at least I think I know.

I started this story mentioning how Margarite and Bebe have been plotting, another clue that only fit when all the other clues are put together. About two weeks ago, I heard them talking about - eating, food and an event. I thought they were talking about some party back in Europe where they are both from, but I Googled the name I  over heard "Mathayom" and here is what showed up.  During this same conversation Bebe mentioned that she had to get her hair done for St. Johns. Now this really bothered me as she did not ask me to cut her hair. Yes I do cut hair. 

Lastly, just yesterday Dandy Dan told me that G d’B and the Unknown Women were going away for a week next week, so who knows maybe they are on the guest list.

Today the Jet showed up, I know why all the secrecy, and what is going on, or at least I think I do. I know where we are going, where we are staying, and some of the people that will be there. I am still not sure if I know everybody that will be there.

My Birthday is two weeks away so why are we going this week. Of the people going I am not sure any would not be able to go in a few weeks. So my gut tells me there is more guests, but I have no proof. It is even possible Big Bill Ludwick might show up, I think his daughter has spring break this week; my family could be there, even Nami our other village elder.

On the other hand, maybe some or all of the clues I got were planted and there is no trip and no party, and I will be spending the week playing poker trying to recover from my February loss.

Though Surprise, or no Surprise, it has been a great 6 months wondering, thinking, not knowing what will happen on March 12th.

Only time will tell.



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