Search for a lost city and treasure inspires book

Heather Allen reviews adventure from her armchair

Deep in the rainforests of Honduras lies a lost city. Legend tells of a great civilization and mounds of treasure abandoned 500 years ago because of a curse. Rumours abound that this curse still lingers. Anyone who dares to venture through the thick and dangerous jungle, through a keyhole opening in a ring of rugged mountains into the hidden city will be attacked by a hideous, deforming and deadly disease.

Sound like a plot for the next Indiana Jones movie? This is actually the backdrop for a true story. In 2015, adventure writer Douglas Preston accompanied a band of researchers looking for a famous lost city in La Mosquitia, deep in the Honduran jungle. He records the quest in his just-released book, The Lost City of the Monkey God.

The author, and those on the quest may not actually appreciate the reference to Indiana Jones. Because in real life, many academics and archaeologists dismissed and denounced the quest as a rich man’s treasure hunting mission. They believed hacking into the jungle, if it revealed anything, was going to do more harm than good.

Some of the criticism seemed to be sour grapes, but much of it seemed spot on. After all, this mission was funded and organized by non-archaeologist Steve Elkins, who was fascinated with the idea of finding a lost civilization. He appeared less interested in cultural significance or thinking ahead to what could happen once a discovery became public. His fixer, or point of contact, wasn’t an archaeologist but a former drug-runner, and smuggler of national archaeological treasures.

Getting permission to go into this untouched jungle, in a country plagued by drug lords, corruption and poverty was a monumental feat. The group got a pass by telling the president about the technology they planned to use, called LIDAR. The president realized that this might be a way to boost his popularity as well as reveal Honduras’ history to its people.

Flying over in a helicopter, this imaging system would be able to reveal outlines of manmade structures. Once the LIDAR images showed hints of an actual lost city, the group of researchers trekked into the jungle on foot, and the story becomes riveting.

Preston recounts close calls with venomous snakes and quick mud, discoveries of statues and ceramics with gruesome and awesome carvings poking through the jungle foliage, and finally, reveals that this jungle is still a hot zone for a tropical flesh-eating disease.

Whether or not this expedition began as top notch archaeological work, it did reveal important discoveries. If you’re not expecting deep contemplation of who should be able to dig up the past and how it should be done, this is an adventure worth taking from the comfort — and safety — of your armchair.

Heather Allen is a writer and reader who lives in Penticton. allenh@telus.net

Just Posted

Kelowna woman runs to beat hunger

Teri Kanner is collecting donations for the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Battle of the concert bands in Lake Country

The annual Concert Band competition is held at Creekside Theatre April 24 to 26

Snoozed through the news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, the Capital News will feature popular stories from the week

Immigrant finds Kelowna job market challenging

Pearl has a Master’s Degree in Finance and was able to find work through KCR

Okanagan Eats back for another year

Okanagan Eats features vendors, chef demos, and so much more. This isn’t your average food show.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs to sleep

VIDEO: 33 Oliver-area homes evacuated due to flooding

Flooding in the Sportsman Bowl area has swelled drastically over course of one week

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Most Read