Umbrella Surveillance System
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Buck Rogers There exist in Bolivar numerous indigenous peoples; the Wayuu of the Guajira Peninsula, the Yaruro of the plains, the Baniwa and the Kali'na and the Who-Knows'Wa. While the country's increasing urbanization and industrialization have seen their populations shrink, their cultures live on in scant percents of the population.

But many of them have integrated, and become simply one of many. Still, their touch can be felt-- there are areas considered sacred, suffused with primal energy. The lands that time has forgot.

One of those is a nameless island-- if you can call it that, given how small it is-- off the coast, a bit aways from the more profitable and well-known Paradise Islands. This island in particular is culturally wed to the tribal people who have formed fishing villages along the coast, prioritizing river access deeper inland. The island remains a spiritual area, but it is these fishing zones the people now live in.

Isabel, during her time in Cabimas, heard a refugee whose aunt married a man from the village talk about it. It was an idle conversation-- rumors, gossip, stories. But the talk of cannibalism, and the tribe's old practices with it, stoked her curiosity.

The village has fifty people in it, tops, and is reached either through chartering a boat or driving off the main roads into the sweltering, wooded areas that dot the beaches and hilly areas.
Isabel The more time Isabel spends in Bolivar, the more convinced she is that there are things only the locals will ever know. And only certain locals, at that. Even as the nation changes, incorporating new ideas, some things remain, old things that people like herself would never have heard of without being in-country to hear about them.
As it is, she only heard about /this/ matter via a chance conversation. If she'd been out of the room at the time, she wouldn't be here now, trying to track down a story of cannibalism. Recent cannibalism, at that. But Raccoon City's doom began with stories of cannibal gang attacks, and even Paris had strange rumors of cannibals in spots after the Umbrella bombing; the parallel is too strong to ignore.
She's not about to go to this nameless island (or overambitious rock, maybe) alone, though. She's invited an old friend and fellow Raccoon City survivor along for help. Even if he does scare her sometimes, Buck Rogers is the best help a poor American internet journalist could have. She can manage her own equipment just by keeping it portable, but the thought of potential trouble on an isolated island... she's planning accordingly.
Especially since some parts of the world still believe that cameras steal your soul if they're pointed at you. Hopefully this isn't one of them.
Buck Rogers Buck Rogers got a few remedial Spanish lessons courtesy U.N. translators in preparation for his passage to Bolivar. It's nothing amazing-- he can count to ten, knows a few simple sentences, recognizes a few job-relevant terms. Most importantly, he has a guidebook, replete with useful phrases, how to ask for bathrooms, directions, etc., etc.

He also has more disposable income than Isabel, and so hired a young local from one of Maracaibo's universities to accompany them on what he described as 'a spot'a tourism to compile local legends and cultural touchstones'-- utter horseshit, but the lie serves.

The three of them have been riding off the main highway and roads, transported by the beaten ol' pick-up Buck rented from a farmer. When at last they reach the village, the ground has softened and dipped in elevation, their wheels crushing down grass and rocks as they drive down river toward the sea. It is small enough that, before they get there, they can see the whole thing-- there's an awful lot of homes built on stilts stretching out over the water, combined with the piers that hold boats great and small. The village builds inland only a little, with what looks to be an old Christian church; a remnant of colonial missionary work, most like.

"Alright," Buck begins, driving down a path marked by tire prints. The main way in and out, leading to the village center, near the church. "So you wanted to get pictures'a the island?"
Isabel Isabel has learned a little more of the language during her time in Cabimas, which is a definite improvement over /Sesame Street/, her sole previous experience with Spanish aside from college. She hadn't done particularly well in that class, thanks to a teacher who seriously hated explaining herself. 'Learn to drown if you can't swim', indeed. She'd honestly be fine with compiling local legends and cultural touchstones, but suspects that the clock won't let her: Her reasons for being here relate more to current events than ancient ones.
Buck's question is a good one, and she nods, pulling her eye away from the digicam to do so. "That's the idea, partly. It's very picturesque, isn't it? But I'm a little more interested in the recent cannibal attack stories. Legends might provide some background on how people see it here, but with Umbrella and its agents everywhere these days, there might be other explanations. Just like back home."
Buck Rogers Their translator, a scrawny young man about Isabel's age, stares at her. "Cannibal attack stories? You told me you just needed me to translate for the locals! Get pictures, learn their history!"

Buck claps the young man on the shoulder and squeezes harder than is strictly necessary. "We do need you to do that," he explains, voice as gruff a rumble as the pebbles that crunch beneath the tires as the truck dips into the shade of a tree right outside the village and parks. "Ain't nothin' to worry about. You wanna get paid, right? Half up front, half after, that's the deal."

He narrows his eyes, smiling. "Wouldn't want me taking the half back and leavin' you here to catch a ride back home, anyway."

He disembarks, stretches-- he barely fit in the front of that vehicle, huddled up like an eskimo seeking warmth. The sun's bright today, and it sparkles off the glass of the church and the cross atop it.

"Let's see about gettin' us a boat, then, eh?" A few kids playing nearby with a dog have seen them now, and run off to no doubt tell their parents there's guests. They don't get many tourists. Buck begins to walk, giving the church only a brief glance.
Isabel Isabel sighs, looking at the kid. She's not without sympathy: She's been where he is, figuratively speaking. "I'm sorry, Ramon, but give me a chance. If I'd told you the real reason, you'd have thought I was just some crazy American trying to stir up trouble. I'm not interested in digging up local ghouls or graves. There have been recent attacks on people. I want the local perspective, yes, and that involves history, but I also want to know what's happening and where."
That having been said, she won't discourage Buck from leaning on him. They do need to communicate with the locals, and Ramon's the expert. But first things first: Getting there. And it looks like a long swim. "A boat sounds good," she says as she climbs down from the old truck's cab, getting a good shot of the church and the kids with their dog. She looks the part of a tourist, with her digicam, hiking boots and shorts, and open-necked blouse under a vest (with pockets for her other small devices). "But I'll bet they're protective of those. We might have to get an owner with it."
Buck Rogers Ramon's lips curl in a frown and his eyes dart from side to side-- but whatever he sees convinces him that the best bet is to sigh, shrug, and resign himself with a smile. "Okay, fine," he says, lifting a hand as they all get outside of the truck. "Just a silly story, anyway."

Oh, how money talks.

Buck looks more like a soldier than a tourist-- he's got his armor on beneath the trench coat, and he has absolutely learned to hate the heat. But at least it's cooler by the water, and if there's some sort of danger to be encountered, he won't be caught off-guard, sword sheathed at his side. But given his size, even if he tried to appear harmless and innocuous it would fail to stick. A few of the kids can be heard laughing to each other and pointing at him like he's a circus freak, giggling the word 'gigante' as they walk, the dog wagging its tail and chasing.

The group walks. Other than the stilt-homes and boats, as well as a few local structures for storage and processing, there's relatively little here; a few electrical poles, tarps that blow in the breeze, a few dozen people. Most of the boats are still out working, but a few remain.

When the group reaches one of the docks, and finds a decent-sized personal boat with sail and motor, an old man in a rocking chair chewing tobacco looks up at them from beneath the brim of a wide hat. "Turista?"
Isabel "That's what I thought before Raccoon City, and Paris. Silly stories have a way of coming true, sometimes," Isabel says, resigned to dealing with translator issues. Hopefully Ramon'll base his performance on the paycheck, not whether or not he believes in what he's translating.
The trip through town is good for some nice imagery, though she has to be careful not to video giggling kids. After all, who laughs at scenery. She makes sure to get shots of the stilt-houses and the water beneath, boats and all; if she can ever use this stuff for another purpose, or even on the ZTJ, people will definitely want to see this.
The first docks they come to have boats, but too small for a party their size (and especially a party of Buck's size). They walk a few slips down before finding one that might be big enough. "Si, senor," Isabel replies with a smile, bowing her head respectfully. She glances at Ramon. "We'd like to know if your boat is for rent. We're trying to get to the village inland of here, where the Baniwa live."
Buck Rogers A place this size, everyone knows eachother-- the old man's name is Salazar, and he plans to die here same as he was born. He's believed by the locals to be beloved by the sea after surviving an unexpected storm that drowned three other men in his youth.

Ramon translates. The old man chews and spits off to the side. "Not much to see except the church," he explains, lifting an arthritic hand and pointing off toward it. "People come to see it now and again after that documentary on the television, about the missionary massacre back in the 1600s."

The question of his boat makes him arc a brow. "Son's got the good boat.. this old thing's on its last legs." He reaches into his pocket, draws a small tin cannister, and plucks some fresh chew. "I'm free. Two hundred dollars." Well, the local equivalent of that.
Isabel "Looks like native history isn't the only kind here. It's a beautiful old place. I wonder if they do tours..." Isabel muses, looking back at the church. And hastily at Ramon. "No need to translate that; I'm just thinking aloud. Or this."
Whereupon she looks back at Buck, aka The One With The Money. "Sound good to you, Uncle Pennybags?" she asks with a grin.
Buck Rogers Buck withdraws his wallet from a pocket. If, during that act, the old man sees how heavily armed he is, so be it. The country is a dangerous place, and if some foreign mercenary is looking to charter your boat, don't be a pain in the ass about it. He pulls out the bills and hands them over without even bothering to haggle; the idea of price negotiation through a third party sounds tedious.

The man pockets the cash, rises to his feet, and spits again out into the water. He nods toward the boat. "Well, get on in." He disappears inside his home, and comes out later with a bottle of booze.

It'll be a fun ride.
Isabel "Muchos gracias, senor Salazar," Isabel says, with another smile, slinging her camera and climbing aboard carefully, but without undue hesitation. Ladies first, after all. "And that sounds like an 'all aboard' to me."
She gestures to Ramon, deciding to stay close to Salazar. She definitely wants to ask him about the island and what can be found there. Someone who's survived this long probably knows much of the local color. With this boat being sail-powered, it's likely to be a slow trip, so there'll be time.
You know what they say: Getting there is half the fun.