I was familiar with Douglas Preston’s work in thrillers, but when I found out he’d write a non-fiction book about Ciudad Blanca, I added the title to my reading list.
As a Honduran I’ve heard legends of a white city in the region of La Mosquitia, located in the eastern tip of Honduras, so when a story broke out back in 2012 about a discovery I became curious and excited because the possibilities for this discover were endless. Would it turn out to be our Pyramids of Cairo, or our Machu Pichu? In 2015 Nat Geo released a documentary; I must have watched it over 10 times, partly because I played it for my advanced-English students in the university.
I’m sharing here a few thoughts on The Lost City of the Monkey God. It’s a fascinating tale that deals with an ancient mystery in Honduras.
The opening chapter where the author recalls the warnings, and the dangers of what they would be encountering during their excursion into the jungle, made me realize my own jungle adventures as a boy scout were a walk in the park by comparison.
The book covers the several years of effort, frustration, trial and error, and finally, the exploration of a civilization what established and flourished over five centuries ago in La Mosquitia. It has a loose format structure that comprises several sections; among them, Preston’s meeting with Steve Elkins—the driving force behind the quest—, a summary of the several tales surrounding the White City and previous searches for the city, then it goes into a detailed explanation of Honduras’ current status as the most dangerous country in the world. But Preston digs deeper and brings the situation into perspective of the tumultuous history, the stint as a banana republic, and the recent use of the territory as pit stop for the drug trade.
But the clincher was the use of space-age technology to map the area from the air that happened in 2012 and where after analyzing the data they could share their information with the world. It would take another three years before they could organize an in-site dig that finally occurred in January 2015. I particularly enjoyed the semi-diary Preston used for that section as I felt I was in the jungle with them.
The team went into unfamiliar territory for their love of solving a mystery; however, a few weeks after their return, they realized that although they had not removed any relic from the site, they did bring something back with them. This information would later become an important part to solve the puzzle, and to my inexpert opinion, they nailed it.
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