Northern blizzards are bad, only wind storms on sea can be more dangerous; one cannot however compare these with the awful impression of storms in tropical forests. Already several hours before the first lightning everything that is alive is looking for a safe shelter, it seems as if even the trees were crouching towards the earth.
Two friends, Joseph and Tony, are trying to squeeze their way through the wild forest in the intense rain in the middle of the wilderness of Gran Chaco, in the middle of nowhere. These two Czech friends already have plenty of rich South American experiences because they walked together through the whole middle of Brazil. Their target were and are – diamonds. And one cannot find these on asphalt surfaced roads of Rio de Janeiro. One can plod along quite a lot in search of these precious stones and dig so much earth and stones – the deeper inland so much the better.
Streams of water are rushing from the sky and the primeval forest is radiating sultry vapours.
The two friends can’t wait till this never ending wandering is behind them. If they discover a great deal of diamonds one more time they can send money to their wives to pay for their journey. In a few years time there might be a great Czech colony in Rio de Janeiro.”
A blinding furnace swallowed up Joseph’s thought of a decent bank account which needs to be topped up with one last bigger find. The lightning lighted a huge tree nearby on the right side of the trough . The bursting water which is carrying away twigs and small branches is somehow avoiding the burning tree but follows in the footsteps of the two men.
Finally, there are some ruins. Joseph was here three years ago, while Tony was lying in hospital. It’s a good place to spend the night.
On a small slope, in the height of about 20 metres, one can spot some leftovers of some once enormous stone building which used to be monastery of Santa Cruz. Tony managed to light fire and while warming water for tea he is recounting. “At the time of Spanish invasion into South America the conquerors were accompanied by priests and Jesuits , who were settling in the least accessible places. Everywhere around here they were building firm stone monasteries, which formed the centre of Spanish colonial lives. As the monasteries started to fill up with stolen riches so also started to increase the height and thoroughness of their walls till shortly they changed into a fortress.
Joseph’s eyes started to brighten up when wealth was mentioned. But Joseph told him not to expect to find a treasure of some kind. There have been so many finders. They must have looked for and dug the whole hill.
The storm only started to calm down on the third day after midnight. Towards morning sun rays penetrated into the dark corners of the monastery and the two friends set off on a small inspection-round of their temporary shelter.
The two friends are approaching a high tuft of grasses, in which a moment later they can recognize a tombstone. Illegible letters are shining through on several places from the moss-grown tablet.
The two friends are making a sign of a cross over the tombstone which has been grown over by grass and a cross was uprooted from the earth.
Joseph throws a quiet questioning look at Tony, who is nodding. Without coming to an agreement in words both men are approaching their task. They consider it matter of course to render service to those deceased long ago to tidy up the place of their last rest. They are removing broken pieces of masonry and stones sharpened by water and wind. Finally with their joint effort they manage to clean the tombstone and free the uprooted metal cross. It is a very heavy over two metres high Christian symbol, considerably shabby due to its age.
Tony noticed something very strange. Amazingly he is showing to his friend that there was no sign of rust on his hands which were struggling with the heavy cross.
The palms of Joseph’s hands are also considerably clean. He is shaking his head incomprehensibly. Suddenly both friends started to realise that the cross was made from gold.
“ A lightning should struck me if I am not going to have a ten metre artistic bronze cross erected in this place,” Tony swears.
“But this black, actually golden cross, which weighs 150 pounds – that is the roof of our farm. Our wives and children can come here to join us, Joseph! All our longings will be fulfilled!”
This event happened in 1908 and 5 years afterwards Otakar Batlicka was sitting on a spacious veranda near Pueblo de Oro and was enjoying the cosiness and hospitality of the families of his countrymen on the farm Negro Cruz – Farm by the Black Cross.