Some mysteries are best left unexplored. Novelist Douglas Preston and his team of explorers and archaeologists learned this lesson after they encountered a face-eating bacteria while excavating the cursed ruins of Ciudad Blanca.
The ruined city in Honduras had never been excavated before. This is because the place, also known as “the City of the Monkey God,” is believed to carry a curse that provides deadly diseases.
The History Of the ‘Cursed’ City
Spanish settlers had conquered the city in the 16th century, because they believed it held immense wealth. According to legends, the residents went through a series of catastrophic events that led them to believe the gods were angry with them. Hence, they fled from the place, leaving all their belongings behind.
Explorer Steve Elkins has been obsessed about finding the 1,000-year-old city for a period of time. His first expedition dates back to the 90s, and there was no looking back for him since then.
Only recently, however, Elkins managed to make a breakthrough discovery, thanks to the technology of LIDAR. It is a laser mapping device Elkins was able to obtain with little financial help from documentary filmmaker Bill Benenson.
“This technology could see through the jungle canopy and potentially reveal the contours of what might be underneath it,” Benenson said, reported CBS News. “It seemed like a valuable gamble.”
Armed with advanced technology, Steve Elkins invited novelist Douglas Preston to join him on the mission. However, what none of them contemplated was the hurdles they would overcome to reach their destination.
Snakes And Sand Flies
One of the initial dangers the team had to face was venomous snakes creeping into the excavating site. Nevertheless, the archaeologists proceeded to explore the Mosquitia rain forest on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. They were awarded with the discover of rare 16th century artifacts.
Carved inscriptions on stone and pyramid-like structures were among the ancient ruins unearthed at Ciudad Blanca. However, the story of an excited excavation did not end on a positive note.
When Preston and the team made their way back, they discovered they had been infected by a parasitic disease. It was known as Leishmaniasis, which spreads via the bites of sand flies.
“The parasite migrates to the mucous membranes of your mouth and your nose, and basically eats them away,” Preston said, reported the Independent. “Your nose falls off, your lips fall off, and eventually your face becomes a gigantic, open sore.”
Thankfully, all members made full recoveries from the disease. The experience did force them to wonder, however, if the curse of the Monkey God was indeed real or not.