In Search of a lost city in the Land of Z
October 6, 2014
“I’VE ENJOYED EVERY CLASS REUNION I came to. I can only recognize half of the people anymore, but it is good to see the people we ran around with,” Jerry Edwards said to his friend, James Adams, at the forty-five year high school reunion.
“Remember some of those songs we listened to back then? ‘Boney Maroney,’ ‘Wooly Booly,’ ‘Hang on Sloopy?’ Some of them were catchy, some were pretty, and some were downright nutty,” James asked his old friend.
“Yeah, not only were the songs nutty, the way we danced to them was nuttier. We looked like we had ants in our pants.” Jerry replied.
James laughed loudly, drawing uninvited attention, as he got a mental picture of their high school dances. James and Jerry had chosen a small corner in the banquet room to chew the fat about old times. James said, “I remember one song, when we were freshmen, that got stuck in my head and it wouldn’t go away. It was by Ben E. King. I thought he was singing, ‘Ah, take me by the hand, lead me to the land of X to Z,’ like the end of the alphabet. I had no idea what that was.”
“Ha! You’re kidding. I remember that song. They played it a lot on KLIF. It was ‘Lead me to the land of ecstasy,’ you fool!” Jerry exclaimed.
“Yeah, I was a fool but I found out in the last ten years there really was a land of Z, anyway,” James threw out the bait. “It wasn’t in a song, but it is a deep, dark mystery.”
“An unsolved mystery? Wait a minute. Let’s get Young Al over here. I bet he would like to hear this—such a mysterious fellow. Jerry motioned Al over and pushed out a chair. “James is going to tell us all about The Land of Z, an unsolved mystery. Go ahead, James. We’re waiting.”
James decided to play it up big. “The Land of Z was discovered deep in the jungle of the Mato Grasso in what is now Brazil by some Portuguese explorers. As they scaled a quartz cliff, they cast their eyes on an ancient staircase hewn from stone. At the top of the staircase was a stone portal, beckoning one to come inside. Inside there were constructions and buildings in the classic Greek tradition of architecture. There were magnificent statues and wide streets. There were impressive temples. Writing in a strange language was carved into the portal and other artifacts. This lost city had been surrounded by marshes and a landscape that provided game and fruit.”
“What did they do?” Al asked.
“They couldn’t do anything. It had taken these explorers eleven years of death and hardship to come as far as they did. No one would even know of their discovery but for one thing. It is so well-hidden to today’s eyes.”
“What one thing?” Jerry egged him on.
“In the early 1920s, I think it was, a British guest at the big library in Rio found an old parchment that described the Land of Z and the terrible trials endured to examine it first hand. Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, a former engineer in the military was tantalized. The 53-year-old Brit had made an avocation of ferreting out lost civilizations all over the world, including some others right there in South America. When Fawcett dredged up all of the rumors he had ever heard in the area, he thought he had an idea of the exact location of Z. He gathered a party and had started for the location by the end of the year. The party members grew frustrated and turned back after days of dealing with overgrown vegetation, large poisonous insects and snakes, diseases and vampire bats.”
“Well, that would do it!” Jerry exclaimed.
“Guess what. In 1925, he tried again with another expedition. This time he had financing by newspaper companies wanting the story. It was a small party consisting of two Mufuquas Indians, his own son and grandson and an old friend, Raliegh Rimell. In April, they set out from the town of Cuyaba and wanted to keep their route a secret as there might be vast riches to find. On Fawcett’s first trip, a horse had died at a spot and Fawcett had given that spot the name of Dead Horse Camp. In November, a message was delivered to interested parties in Rio. It had arrived from Dead Horse Camp, sent by Fawcett, himself, and indicated that all was well. The only thing was that it was the two Indian guides that brought the message. They admitted they were afraid to go any farther with the Fawcett group. They called it ‘hostile territory.’” And….”
“And what?” Jerry asked.
“Nothing more was ever heard of Fawcett or his crew,” James replied.
“Just like that?” Al asked.
“Just like that! Rumors went round and round for years and cost the lives of other people. Some of Fawcett’s supposed belongings were reported to be found from time to time. A rumor came back that all of what was left of his party were killed by hostile natives. A Swiss trapper, Rattin, reported that he had come across an old Englishman living well, but as a prisoner of Indians. When Rattin returned to the wilds to rescue the Englishman, he and his own party disappeared. A reporter, Albert de Winton took a small group to try to get some answers and they all disappeared. As years turned into decades, many reported seeing an old Englishman in the forest. Others reported blue-eyed children scampering along jungle paths that were conjectured to be offspring of the younger Fawcetts.”
“Yeah, they always have to put in a rumor about some blue-eyed offspring in these stories of exotic vanishings, don’t they?” Al asked.
“The Land of Z—does it exist? Is it filled with gold? At any rate, looking for the Land of Z appears to be dangerous,” James said with a smirk. “All of those who attempted it were gobbled up by a gaping green tentacled maw!”
Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels.