Treasure Hunting

Throughout the last week I’ve been on a quest following rabbit trails like an intrepid adventurer.  Trawling through sources, hunting for names and locations, it was an unexpectedly exhilarating romp through a wealth of riches.

Recently, I unearthed my much-prized DVD boxset of The Mysterious Cities of Gold (based on Scott O’Dell‘s novel, The King’s Fifth), which happens to be my favourite ever cartoon.  The blend of history, adventure, and an atmospheric soundtrack have stayed with me since first watching in the mid 80’s, as does the beautifully realised scenery which never fails to make me happy and in a creative mood.

Originally, the BBC cut out the mini documentaries at the end – presumably for the bits of mild nudity – which is a shame as we children watching could have been further inspired by the real history of the Conquistadors and the native peoples of South and Mesoamerica, their myths, beliefs, and culture.

Watching this again brought back many memories.  The first, the excitement of picking up the DVDs in my mid-to-late 20’s and wondering if it would be as I remembered (it was and so much more).  The surprise discovery and fascination of seeing those documentaries for the first time, which although looking very outdated, struck a chord and further encouraged me to fill out my knowledge of the subjects mentioned.

Most notably picking up copies of The Conquest of Mexico by Hugh Thomas, and Michael Wood’s Conquistadors, which I purchased after watching one episode of the BBC documentary. Upon learning there was a book I dropped the TV aspect entirely.

It was in Wood’s book that I recalled reading with fascination an account of Conquistadors struggling down the Amazon, eating boots to stave off hunger. whilst being attacked by natives etc. I had a real hankering to read the full account, but sadly I can’t just go to Waterstones at the moment to check for the details of this vaguely remembered document.

Going through numerous sources hunting for this elusive account, I found many names with rousing stories to tell, they weren’t the particular story I wanted but with names like The War of Quito, and The Travels of Pedro de Cieza de Leon.  Hinting as they do of discovery, adventure, and undoubtedly plenty of ignorance on their part.

Finally, though I came across what I was Searching for in the form of a book by Jose Toribio Medina, and his The Discovery of the Amazon: According to the Account of Friar Gaspar de Carvajal and Other Documents

The excitement of hunting for something elusive, and the tantalising feeling of now having it within my grasp (when money permits) reminded me of another book about Spanish Conquistadors and hidden treasure Valverde’s Gold, which is another entertaining jaunt, full of misdirection, jealously guarded secrets, and the thirst for the hunt.

20 Replies to “Treasure Hunting”

  1. Loved cartoons in the 80s. They don’t make like that any more. I imagine. I probably couldn’t say that with any authority actually…


    1. They did go downhill after the ‘golden age’ but every generaion no doubt says that but that TMCoG is always the cartoon to which I compare all others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Ste J, You’re another such adventurer, though in a literary vein. Just please don’t eat your boots (and don’t sell them in order to buy books)! I’m not sure, but I seem to remember in “Cyrano de Bergerac” or perhaps in “The Three Musketeers,” some place of that kind, one of the heroes sold clothing in order to buy books. None of that, now, young Ste J! You’re the father of a family and must be properly clothed to support the role.


    1. I rotate the few clothes I actually have. This lockdown is quite handy as otherwise I have to use complex maths to work out who saw me in what last, and what day I usually wea things and so on. If I sold any clothes I’d be arrested for streaking.

      I never did finish The Three Muskateers which is a shame as I was enjoying it, if I recall over a decade ago. I mut get back to that one.


      1. Dear Ste J, “The Three Musketeers” is so much more interesting if you commit to reading the whole series and not just the first book. The characters get old and develop. Aramis and Porthos are especially interesting in old age.


        1. I had heard there were a few books but hadn’t investigated too deeply. I will try and source the whole lot and work y way through them, I do love a good series.


  3. I love how something sparks our imaginations and spurs us into learning more. Often, for my husband and me, it’s a film, and suddenly we’re scouring the internet and ordering books. I’m glad your treasure hunt was successful. A wonderful pastime while we’re all isolating. Have fun and take care.


    1. I’m strting to cast the net wider in search of literature, it is exciting to do so and now there is time, I will throw myself in with reckless abandon. That everything inspires and encourages book buying is the best way to spend time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lol! It’s odd to think of you as a cartoon guy. What the heck! I loved a lot of cartoons in my youth. My all time fave…Daffy Duck!
    Your cartoon seems … deeper than Bugs Bunny and pals.
    Keep hunting, for those elusive treasures!!


    1. I do enjoy the odd cartoon, Ulysses 31 was another mad cartoon, Greek myths set in space. I had no idea back in the day what was going on but I loved it! I’m always on the hunt, at the moment my attention is turning to pulp magazines because, why not!


  5. Reminds me of the film, Mountains of the Moon, depicting Richard Burton’s quest to find the source of the Nile. I’ll never forget the scene where a beetle crawls into his ear while he’s sleeping and he stabs a hot poker into his ear to kill it. Ugh. So visceral. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed your quest!


    1. That sounds extremely grim, I don’t know if I could do such a thing. I have been hunting around for more things to follow, and there is some very varied stuff that I am searching through, more to come soon…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My younger daughter loves The Mysterious Cities of Gold! My elder daughter certainly watched it and all the other cartoons in the 80’s/90’s on TV but it’s my younger girl who is a real enthusiast.


    1. It’s a show that keeps on giving, I watch it every few years and really love it. Ulysses 31 was another great cartoon, although it was over my head back in the day. Your daughters have great taste.

      Liked by 1 person

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