Jungleland

Christopher Stewart writes about his adventures in the Honduran jungle while searching for the last "White City." Stewart became obsessed with find this city after reading the journals of Theodore Morde, who had tried to find the city on 3 occasions. Morde who has some experience in extreme climates and jungle exploration was way ahead of Stewart who had neither. Stewart had traveled as a writer and heard about this lost city while researching an article about the Honduran drug trade.

Stewart sets out to find this city. He studies Morde's journal thoroughly, outfits himself and teams up with Christopher Begley, a real life "Indiana Jones," who has actually done a similar search. The city is supposed to be located in the Mosquita, a 3,300 square mile area of rain forest and swamp on the Honduras/Nicaragua border. Legend has it the city contains "gold, priceless artifacts, overgrown temples and buildings and monkey gods."

There is actually some history surrounding this area. Christopher Columbus mentions a city ( or rumors of it) he heard after he landed at Trujillo. Herman Cortes also mentions a hunt for the city of Hueitapalan (the old land of red earth) and that he didn't find it. Charles Lindbergh saw a large area of white ruins while flying over Central America in 1927. So, in theory, the city should be there somewhere.

Stewart and Begley head off. The jungle is a nightmare, the politics of the region are a nightmare and Stewart is second guessing himself. Pirates, drug runners, outlaws, treasure hunters, jaguars, and howler monkeys all have runs in with the Stewart expedition. As the journey goes on, Stewart becomes more morose as evidenced in his writing.

The book moves back and forth between Morde's journey and the current one. Interestingly enough there is actually a map  from a local mapmaker indicating where the city is thought to be. Morde's journals talk about the city at the conversion of 3 rivers. But there is nothing there except some jungle covered ruins. There are lots of hints at the location but no hard data.

This story is similar in feel to Grann's Lost City of Z. Middle aged man goes off to find lost city and has an adventure. A fast read, I thought the most interesting part of the book wasn't really explored - was Morde a spy during the second world war or not? That said, the book is an adventure story of a contemporary man. It's interesting in it's humanity of both the author and the characters he meets on his journey.

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