This modern fairytale tells you the story of 2 Belgian wannabe explorers on their first quest for a lost city. Will they find it? Will they make it? - Written, edited, and published by LVS and CC
Chapter 3: Kingdom of the Crystal Scam
– Ft. Laura Croft and Christiana Jones
4:45 AM, but ready to conquer this Lost City (together with the other 100 crazy tourists), Christiana and Laura prepared themselves for the discovery of a lifetime and more importantly, for the exposure to a million massive mosquitos.
They were close. Christiana Jones could feel it in his shaky bones. Waking up before dawn, our two heroes felt that this would be the day. All signs were there. The morning fog, the rumbling of the river, the birds morning song, even their jungle guide and interpreter, dressed in the local ‘FC Barcelona jersey’ costume, insinuated they might finally find the long lost Tayrona capital that very day. He was right.
The first challenge was a barefoot river crossing which appeared to be the hardest challenge for Christiana Jones as he chose to wear his jeans to the Lost City to avoid being killed by the jungle’s most feared insects, the mosquitos. It was still early (6:20 AM) and therefore he made a tiny mistake. He forgot to take off his jeans before crossing the river, and got his pants soaked with water. And as jeans are the perfect material to dry in a tropical, humid jungle, it was unlikely to dry for the remaining two days. And yes, as you know, he only brought one pair of trousers.
After only 1 hour of hiking, including the barefoot river crossing and a jungle stairs of 1200 steps, they found the first ruins of what must have been a once impressive mountain capital of a mighty jungle people. The Lost City was finally found! The expedition lead by Croft and Jones had discovered ruins of unprecedented archeological and anthropological value. 1200 small steps for a small man, but a giant leap for mankind.
It was incredible how well the Tayrona people were ahead of their time. At the top of the stairs they had put a map of the entire site, drawn with the support of a neighboring tribe called ‘US Aid’. The city itself, although lost for hundreds of years, consisted of well-maintained ruins and wasn’t at all covered by tropical vegetation, as one would expect. Their lawns were perfectly trimmed and had signs of ‘Don’t walk on the grass’ (probably made with the help of a neighboring tribe with roots in the British isles) in a language they didn’t even know at the time. Their shamans must have seen the touristic potential in the very far future and the prosperity it would bring to their indigenous descendants. If he wasn’t feeling so much of a mule himself, carrying around a 150kg backpack with Laura Crofts entire belongings, Christiana Jones would have sacrificed a donkey there and then on the Tayrona altar, to thank their gods for the amazing providence of its people.
While discovering this massive city, Christiana and Laura constantly had to apply extreme toxic repellent to fight the mosquitos that were circling around their heads like vultures around a dead goat, ready to feast on the flesh of these juicy tomb raiders. Nevertheless they were eaten alive as their mosquito repellent appeared to suck as hell. Strong as they were, they ignored these wretched parasites and enjoyed the amazing views and histories of this Lost City. It was here they were told that the Tayrona people had super powers, could see the past and the future and would only procreate to procreate without any other meaning or pleasure. As men and women lived in separate houses, they would thus do the deed outside in the jungle to receive Mother Nature’s blessing. The more the Tayrona history revealed itself, the more Christiana and Laura realized the craziness of these indigenous people. The women were picked out by the men for marriage, once they’ve had their periods (12-14 yrs). From that time on they would get 12 to 16 kids until they would be 30-ish. Something they don’t really know because they don’t count in years. They must feel it through the sun, the rain and the earth, which they all worship by the way.
You wouldn’t expect this, but yes, the Tayrona men seem to be pretty lazy. They prepare the lands for cultivation, do some work around the ‘house’ (hut), and chew coca leaves all f* day long. The women on the other hand, bear and raise 16 children, are in charge of the land meaning they sow the crops, and reap them, and cook them. Furthermore, men get to wear boots whereas women walk barefoot while carrying food, materials and babies. The only thing the man is carrying is his own bag of coca leaves and his Poporo. Oh – but they do have important meetings with other men to make important decisions. You can make your own conclusions.
Soon however, Laura and Christiana realized something was wrong. Continuing up the stairs to the highest part of the city, they saw signs of more modern civilization. At the top of the city a Colombian flag was planted and soldiers of the Colombian army patrolled the place. They saw a couple of houses at the side with solar panels and a satellite dish where people in jeans were selling coca cola and energy drinks (if Christiana could, he would have bought their jeans). Looking behind them, they noticed more and more groups of people getting up the stairs. What a coincidence that all these expeditions had found the Lost City at the same time..
Then their guide finally told them the truth. The Lost City had been found a long time ago.. Apparently an expedition in the 1970s had found the ruins by accident after a 10 day hike through the jungle (how slow and out of shape these guys must have been!). The years following the discovery, the city had been raided by more professional tomb raiders who were actually on time. The Colombian government intervened and the site was properly restored by archeologists and anthropologists. It started becoming a touristic attraction and in 2003 a touristic expedition was even kidnapped by a guerrilla movement. They were released and government forces cleared the region from guerrilla presence after which touristic expeditions continued and increased until this day. Knowing that the lost city was already found Laura and Christiana realized they had been fooled by the tour operators mean but cunning marketing tricks.
This “lost” city even had several different names: Teyuna, Green Hell or just Lost City. So much for planting the Belgian flag on top of its ruins and naming the city ‘Christianapolis’, ‘Lauraville’ or ‘New Edegem’..
With their dream shattered, the two adventurers started the climb down and Christiana couldn’t help but wonder why neither the tour operators, nor US Aid or the Tayrona people back in the days, didn’t install a handrail for the 1200 steep and slippery steps down the mountain! Were they not concerned about health and safety?! And what about Tayrona elderly with mobility issues? For sure, they would have appreciated a little handrail along the stairs!
Nevertheless satisfied and impressed with what they had seen, our two heroes (in wet jeans and full of mosquito bites) went back where they came from through raging rivers and donkey poo, for their final night in the jungle.
After all this information and Pocahontas-like feelings, they arrived at the last camp. Here they were blessed with one of mother nature’s gifts, called tropical (d)rain. But that didn’t hold them back of washing themselves in the river, doing/watching a sundance (Christiana doesn’t dance) and getting back in their wet clothes to enjoy some original Poporo, popcorn and coffee. All of this, combined with days of drinking jungle water and and overload of carbohydrate dishes, stimulated Ms. Croft digestive system to such extent that by the time it was morning (5AM, again), her body was cleared of all toxic, and non-toxic substances. After all these disease and misfortunes, would they ever find the courage to make it back alive?