The LAST DAY in the A to Z Challenge! Hello and welcome to my Main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a romance novelist. All month long 2279 other bloggers and I have been blogging the alphabet. I hope you’ve enjoyed my daily topics.
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Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter Z ~
Z for “Z” the lost city
History has always been an interest of mine. There’s just something about looking back to see from whence we came. There’s a span between then and now, one filled with alternate paths that were never taken. The forks in the road and the choices around them are often mysterious, often perplexing, and often had no thought behind them other than the road looked smoother going in one direction than the other. I’m referring to those points of decision that could have given completely different outcomes to the future.
There’s no doubt if Hitler had choked on a strudel this would be a completely different world. If Ronald Regan hadn’t taken Jimmy Carter’s solar panels off the White House to make a statement on behalf of big coal and oil, would we be watching the world’s ice caps melt today or would we be powering our electric needs like Germany does? Now put those two together and see what you get. Did a crazy Hitler (and then a scary Russia) influence the mindset over there? Is that why they are open to other possibilities like solar power while we’re stuck with robber barons who strip mine and frack?
Like I said, points of decision that could have given completely different outcomes to the future. Take the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors. What if they had never landed on the new world? Or here’s a mind-bender…what if they did, but were on a Star Trek-like mission to learn instead of conquer, plunder, and subjugate? As an author my mind just flies with the thought.
Those conquering mercenaries came upon golden cities the likes of which we can only imagine. And they promptly tore them apart and melted them down. If you own gold today, say a wedding band, odds are it contains some of this plundered Aztec gold.
Beyond the actual golden cities lay rumors of others hidden in the jungle. The legendary city of El Dorado had so much gold, it was said the king powdered himself with gold dust. Natives were tortured for information, maps were made, legends scrutinized, and centuries of explorers went deeper into the Amazon’s jungles.
The 20th century had one such explorer — Colonel Percy Fawcett of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society, and his last venture into the Amazon basin ended in mystery.
I’ve read that Percy Fawcett might have influenced Hollywood’s composite adventurer-archaeologist Indiana Jones. Indeed, it’s said Fawcett’s early adventures inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World, and H. Rider Haggard to write King Solomon’s Mines.
Known for his unflagging stamina, Percy Fawcett began his Amazonian explorations in 1906 and soon became the foremost authority on the Amazon basin. Mainly exploring the Mato Grosso region of Brazil, Fawcett made seven expeditions between 1906 and 1924. He wrote everything down every step of the way. For years his adventurous exploits wowed and delighted in the newspapers back home. Because he posted regular updates, he traveled with a slew of message runners who retraced their steps to be sure the next post got out. These posts carried coded coordinates for his wife so only she might know just where in the jungle he was. You wouldn’t want other explorers making discoveries by tracing your path through the jungle.
I imagine readers gobbling up the details as he presented them. He wrote of the 60-foot anaconda he had to shoot. He mentioned jaguars and pumas, pit vipers, tarantulas, scorpions and other poisonous things. He encountered biting flies, gnats and mosquitoes, and saw vampire bats that sucked blood from animals as well as from sleeping people. As for hostile natives, one account has his expedition in a hail of poisoned arrows and he fought back with an accordion. Music was played, tempers were smoothed, and Fawcett had new friends among the natives. How do you not love that?
It wasn’t long before rumor and legend seized him and he too became obsessed with finding a lost city in the Mato Grosso region — a city he was certain would be covered in gold like the ancient cities of the Aztecs and Incas. It would be the greatest discovery in South America since the Spanish and Portuguese landed on those pristine shores centuries before. He named the lost city Z.
According to his notes, Fawcett determined Z to be 11,000 years old and thought it might be one of the Seven Cities of Cibola mentioned by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. Stretching further, he hypothesized that Z might even be the capital of Atlantis, adding it may also have had some connection to the ancient Celts. This thinking was encouraged by a manuscript he came across in a library in Rio de Janeiro. The manuscript was written in in 1743 about a Portuguese expedition into the Amazon which described the ruins of an immense stone city. Strangely, hieroglyphs found there resembled an extinct Irish language called the Ogham. Adding to this, Fawcett claimed to have seen fair-skinned, red haired and blonde natives in the area and they weren’t modern arrivals. Hmm…
In 1925, Fawcett set off on another Z expedition with his son, Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh Rimmel. The last message runner left from a place called Dead Horse Camp B. Fawcett, Jack, and Raleigh Rimmel were never seen or heard from again. Over the years many explorers went looking for him and only his ring and compass were found. No one knows if Percy Fawcett ever found Z.
Footnote: The details of this man and why he went are fascinating, and certainly not what I expected. For one, his interest in theosophy and the reason he brought his son along — to fulfill a prophecy made by Buddhist monks in Ceylon. Jack, they said, was the reincarnation of an advanced being. “After a mental transformation, Jack would be installed as the founder and leader of a mystic colony.” Was this Z in Fawcett’s mind?
Percy Fawcett believed a monumental city of stone existed. But what if he got it wrong? What if Z was a monumental city of wood? Grand and opulent in its own way and reclaimed by the jungle year after year until nothing but pottery shards remained. Who knows? And that’s the topic for a book…
Like this one
Evidence for Huge Cities in the Amazon Jungle documentary
That’s all folks 😀
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