by David Hatcher Childress
From "World Explorer", Vol. 2, No. 3.
All are architects of fate,
Working the walls of time:
Some with massive deeds and great;
Some with lesser rhyme.
What if I told you that I had been
inside a fantastic tunnel system that runs beneath the continent of
South America? Would you think me a liar? Or worse yet, insane?
Though I admit it is a story that seems difficult to believe, I am
telling the truth. Read on, dear reader, and decide if I am mad or
Although it seems incredible, there is a great deal of evidence to
show that a network of ancient tunnels exists throughout much of
South America. Legends abound on this tunnel system, and I can state
that I have even been inside some of the tunnels on this strangest
The Gold of
Legends of tunnels in South America surfaced almost immediately
after the conquest when the Spaniards discovered that the Incas had
hidden much of their treasure-sacred relics of pure gold either
beneath the Inca capital of Cuzco or in a secret city known as
Paititi. Either way, legend had it that a tunnel system was used.
The history of the conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spanish is one
of the most bizarre and incredible stories of history. That
Francisco Pizarro with only 183 men could conquer a sophisticated
empire of several million people is a feat that has never been
equaled, and probably never will be!
Pizarro made his first expedition down the Pacific Coast from Panama
in 1527, attracted by rumors of gold and other treasure. A Greek of
his company went alone from the ship into an Inca village on the
coast, and was taken to be a returning god by the natives. They
brought him to a temple filled with more gold than he had seen in
his life. Returning to the ship, he told Pizarro about the fabulous
wealth he had seen. Satisfied that the rumors were true, Pizarro
returned to Panama and then to Spain to prepare another expedition.
He set out again in 1531, landed on a lonely beach in Ecuador and
began marching inland. He was entering the newly united Inca empire,
which had just recovered from a civil war. The people of Peru,
Bolivia, and rest of the Inca empire were not all true Incas, but
largely Quechua and Aymara Indians. Incas were the ruling elite, of
a different race, who believed themselves descended from "Manco Capac,"
a red-haired, bearded messenger from God.
After taking the town of Tumbes and putting quite of few of the
people to death, the Spanish conquistadors continued their march
south. At Cajamarca, they were received by Inca royalty with great
pomp, splendor, and gifts. The ruler of the Incas (or more
correctly, "the Inca") Atahualpa was impressed by their beards and
white skin, believing them to fulfill a prophecy about the return of Viracocha, the legendary bearded prophet from a far away land who
had visited the South American peoples many hundreds of years
American Indians have no facial hair, though the first Incas
are said to have had reddish-brown hair and beards, like Viracocha.
Therefore, Atahualpa believed that the Spanish were Incas
themselves, Sons of the Sun, gods in their own right, just as he,
the Inca, was a god.
The conquistadors remained in Cajamarca for a time, while the Inca
showered them with gifts. In fact, the Incas believed that the
horses ridden by the Spaniards were also men, and assumed by the way
the horses constantly chewed on their bits that these were the
horses’ fodder. The Incas would put bars of gold and silver in the
horses’ feeding troughs, saying, "Eat this, it is much better than
iron." The Spaniards found this quite amusing, and encouraged the
Indians to keep bringing gold and silver for the horses to eat!
Finally, Atahualpa himself came to the Spaniards from his nearby
palace. During this audience inside the walls of Cajamarca,
Atahualpa had with him no less than 30,000 men, all under strict
command not to harm the Spaniards, even if they themselves were
attacked. This prohibition proved to be their downfall. The
conquistadors kept many of their men in hiding, ready to attack, as
Pizarro and his generals with the Dominican friar Vincente de
Valverde had their audience with Atahualpa in the townsquare.
The Inca welcomed them as Viracocha Incas and fellow Sons of the
Sun. Then the friar Valverde addressed the Inca, telling him about
the one true faith, and the most powerful men on earth,
the Pope and King Charles of Spain. After a long speech translated by the Indian
Felipe, the Inca asked the source of the friar’s material, who
responded by handing the Inca a Bible. The Inca placed it to his
ear. Hearing nothing, he threw it to the ground.
This rather un-pious gesture from Atahualpa was just what the
conquistadors were waiting for. The Spaniards attacked in full
force, many from hiding, and began a slaughter of the Incas. They
killed literally thousands, many of whom were trying to escape. Not
one conquistador was hurt, with the exception of Francisco Pizarro
himself, who was wounded by one of his own men as he reached for Atahualpa.
And so was Atahualpa kidnapped by a mere 160 gold-crazed
conquistadors (some of the original 183 had died of disease and in
earlier battles). To secure his freedom, Atahualpa offered to give
the Spaniards gold in exchange for his release. Sensing that they
still did not realize the fabulous wealth at his command, Atahualpa
stood up in the room in which he was imprisoned and reached as high
as he could; he offered to fill the room with gold to that height in
return for his release. The Spaniards agreed.
Complicating the story at this point were several intrigues. First,
there was a great rivalry between Francisco Pizarro, his brother
Ferdinand, and Don Diego de Almagro. Indeed, Francisco Pizarro and
de Almagro were bitter enemies. Second, Atahualpa was still at odds
with his brother Huascar, who by many accounts was the legitimate
heir to the Inca throne. It had been the civil war between the two
brothers that had weakened the Inca Empire just prior to the arrival
of the Spanish. While he was still in captivity, Atahualpa ordered
Huascar arrested, believing him to be plotting a takeover of the
Empire. Both Atahualpa and Huascar now took a rather fatalistic
attitude to the events taking place, as their father had predicted
such a conflict before his death.
Third, most of the subjects of the Inca Empire were not Incas, but
common Indians of entirely different races and cultural heritages.
Few were loyal to the Incas, and many of them eventually sided with
the Spanish. Finally, again from captivity, Atahualpa ordered his
brother Huascar killed, thinking this would save the empire from
him, believing that the Spaniards may not release him even after the
ransom was paid. All of these factors together set the stage for the
fall of the greatest civilization extant in the Western Hemisphere
at the time.
It took some time for the gold to reach Cajamarca, as it had to be
brought from Quito, Cuzco, and other cities that were hundreds of
miles away. While the ransom was being gathered, Pizarro sent some
of the conquistadors as emissaries to Quito and Cuzco to ensure that
Atahualpa had not ordered an assault on Cajamarca. When they
returned, they reported that fabulous wealth was to be found in
The Incas did not use gold, silver, and precious
stones for currency as Europeans and other cultures did. Instead,
they were valued for decoration, and used extensively for religious
objects, furnishings, and even utensils. Many buildings had interior
gold-lined walls, and exterior gold rain gutters and plumbing.
Therefore, when the Inca was ransomed for a room full of gold, to the
Incas it was as if they were paying with pots and pans, old
plumbing, and rain gutters!
These were sent gladly, though religious objects and those with
esthetic value were not. The ransom paid has been estimated to have
been 600-650 tons of gold and jewels and 384 million "pesos de oro,"
the equivalent of $500,000,000 in 1940. Given the rise in the price
of gold since then, today that ransom would be worth almost five
Not surprisingly, once the ransom was paid, Atahualpa was not
released. The Indian interpreter, Felipe, had fallen in love with
one of Atahualpa’s wives, and he was keen to see that the Inca did
not survive. He spread the rumor that Atahualpa was raising an army
to storm Cajamarca. This being the only excuse the Spaniards needed
to execute the Inca, he was condemned to death. Spaniards who had
befriended Atahualpa advised him to convert to Christianity before
his execution, which would allow the Dominical fathers to strangle
him as a Christian rather than burn him at the stake as a heretic.
He complied, was baptized, then strangled. This was done even though
more gold was on its way, as part of a second ransom, worth much
more than the first.
Meanwhile, three Spanish emissaries came back from Cuzco, the Inca
capital, with even more treasure, looted from the Sun Temple. They
brought an immense cargo of gold and silver vessels loaded on the
backs of 200 staggering, sweating Indians. And the second ransom
train of 11,000 llamas was on its way to Pizarro’s camp. Loaded with
gold, it had been sent by Atahualpa’s queen from Cuzco. But when
they heard of the Inca’s assassination, the Indians drove the llamas
off the road and buried the 100 pounds of gold that each animal
Sir Clements Markham, who had a particularly keen knowledge of Peru,
believed that the gold was hidden in the mountains behind Azangaro.
The Cordillera de Azangaro is a wild sierra little known to
foreigners, the name in Quechua meaning, "place farthest away." It
is believed that this was the easternmost point in the Andean
cordilleras which the old Inca empire dominated. However, other
versions of this story say that the treasure was hidden in a system
of tunnels that goes through the Andes.
One fantastic treasure story involves "The Garden of the Sun."
Sarmiento, a Spanish historian (1532-1589), wrote that this
subterranean garden was located near the Temple of the Sun.
"They had a garden in which the
lumps of earth were pieces of fine gold. These were cleverly
sown with maize the stalks, leaves and ears of which were all of
gold. They were so well planted that nothing would disturb them.
Besides all this, they had more than twenty sheep with their
young. The shepherds who guarded the sheep were armed with
slings and staves made of gold. There were large numbers of jars
of gold and silver pots, vases, and every kind of vessel."
Shortly after the conquest of Peru,
Cieza de Leon, part Inca and part Spanish, wrote,
"If all the gold that is buried in
Peru ... were collected, it would be impossible to coin it, so
great the quantity; and yet the Spaniards of the conquest got
very little, compared with what remains. The Indians said, ’The
treasure is so concealed that even we, ourselves, know not the
"If, when the Spaniards entered Cuzco they had not committed
other tricks, and had not so soon executed their cruelty in
putting Atahualpa to death, I know not how many great ships
would have been required to bring such treasures to old Spain as
is now lost in the bowels of the earth and will remain so
because those who buried it are now dead."
What Cieza de Leon did not say was that,
although the Indians as a whole did not know where this treasure
lay, there were a few among them who did know and closely guarded
After seeing the fineness of the treasures in Atahualpa’s first
ransom, Pizarro had demanded that he be shown the source of this
fabulous wealth before he would release the Inca. He had heard that
the Incas possessed a secret and inexhaustible mine or depository,
which lay in a vast, subterranean tunnel running many miles
underground. Here was supposedly kept the accumulated riches of the
However, legend has it that Atahualpa’s queen consulted the Black
Mirror at the Temple of the Sun, a sort of magic mirror similar to
that in the story of Snow White. In it she saw the fate of her
husband, whether she paid the ransom or not. She realized that her
husband and the empire were doomed and that she must certainly not
reveal the secret of the tunnels or wealth to the gold crazed
The horrified queen ordered that the entrance to the great tunnel be
closed under the direction of the priests and magicians. A large
door into a rocky wall of a cliff gorge near Cuzco, it was sealed by
filling its depths with huge masses of rock. Then the disguised
entrance was hidden under green grass and bushes, so that not the
slightest sign of any fissure was perceptible to the eye.
Conquistadors, adventurers, treasure hunters, and historians have
all wondered about and pursued this legend. What incredible treasure
did the Incas seal into these tunnels? And as to the tunnels
themselves, when and how were they made, and where do they go?
Researchers like Harold Wilkins believed that the tunnels run from
the central Andes around Cuzco for hundreds of miles north and south
through the mountains, as far as Chile and Ecuador. Wilkins believed
that there were other spurs of these tunnels that ran to the east,
coming out at the lost city of Paititi in the high jungle somewhere.
Another spur was said to run to the west, down to the coastal desert
This spur of the tunnel system could have come out near
Lima, the area of the ancient Inca city of Pachacamac, or near
and the Candlestick of the Andes, which is further south along the
Wilkins believed, as did apparently Madame Blavatsky (a well known
psychic and founder of The Theosophical Society), that a spur of the
ancient tunnel system came out in the Atacama Desert near to Arica
and the current border between Chile and Peru, which is further
south still. Madame Blavatsky related the story, retold by Wilkins,
of the ancient treasure and tunnel system.
Sometime around the year 1844, a Catholic priest was called to
absolve a dying Quechua Indian. Whispering quietly to the priest,
the old Indian told an amazing story about a labyrinth and a series
of tunnels built far before the days of the Inca emperors of the
Sun. It was told under the inviolable seal of the confessional, and
could not be divulged by the priest under pain of death. This story
would probably never have been told, except that the priest, while
traveling to Lima, met with a "sinister Italian." The priest let out
a hint of great treasure, and was later supposedly hypnotized by the
Italian to get him tell the story!
"I will reveal to thee what no White man, be he Spaniard, or
American, or English, knows," the dying Indian had said to the
He then told of the queen’s closing of the tunnels when the
Inca Atahualpa was being held captive by Pizarro. The priest added
under hypnosis that the Peruvian government, in about 1830, had
heard rumors of these tunnels and sent an expedition out to find and
explore them. They were unsuccessful.
In another similar story, the Father Pedro del Sancho tells in his
Relacion that in the early period of the conquest of Peru, another
dying Indian made a confession. Father del Sancho wrote,
"...my informant was a subject of
the Incan Emperor. He was held in high esteem by those in power
at Cuzco. He had been a chieftain of his tribe and made a yearly
pilgrimage to Cuzco to worship his idolistic gods. It was a
custom of the Incas to conquer a tribe or nation and take their
idols to Cuzco. Those who wished to worship their ancient idols
were forced to travel to the Incan capital. They brought gifts
to their heathen idols. They were also expected to pay homage to
the Incan emperor during these journeys."
Del Sancho continues,
"These treasures were placed in
ancient tunnels that were in the land when the Incas arrived.
Also placed in these subterranean repositories were artifacts
and statues deemed sacred to the Incas. When the hoard had been
placed in the tunnels, there was a ceremony conducted by the
high priest. Following these rites, the entrance to the tunnels
was sealed in such a manner that one could walk within a few
feet and never be aware of the entrance.
"...My informant said that the entrance lay in his land, the
territory which he ruled. It was under his direction and by his
subjects that the openings were sealed. All who were in
attendance were sworn to silence under the penalty of death.
Although I requested more information on the exact location of
the entrance, my informant refused to divulge more than what has
been written down here."
Another interesting story of the tunnels
around Cuzco and the incredible treasure they contain involves
Carlos Inca, a descendant of an Inca emperor, who had married a
Spanish lady, Dona Maria Esquivel. His Castilian wife thought that
he was not ambitious enough, and that he did not keep her in the
style she deemed befitting her rank, or his descent.
Poor Carlos was plagued night and day by his wife’s nagging, until
late one night, he blindfolded her and led her out into the patio of
the hacienda. Under the cold light of the stars, when all around
were asleep and no unseen eye was on the watch, he began to lead her
by the shoulders. Although he was exposing himself to many risks
including torture and death at the hands of the Quechuas, he
proceeded to reveal his secret.
He twirled her around three times,
then, assuming her disoriented, led her down some steps into a
concealed vault in or under Sacsayhuaman Fortress. When he removed
her blinds, her tongue was finally silenced. She stood on the dusty,
stone floor of an ancient vault, cluttered with gold and silver
ingots, exquisite jewelry, and temple ornaments. Around the walls,
ranged in fine gold, were life-size statues of long dead Inca kings.
Only the golden Disk of the Sun, which the old Incas treasured most,
Carlos Inca was supposedly one of the custodians of the secret
hiding place of Inca treasure that eluded the Spanish and other
treasure seekers for centuries. The U.S. Commissioner to Peru in
1870 commented on this episode:
"All I can say is if that secret
chamber which she had entered has not been found and despoiled,
it has not been for want of digging ...Three-hundred years have
not sufficed to eradicate the notion that enormous treasures are
concealed within the fortress of Cuzco. Nor have three-hundred
years of excavation, more or less constant, entirely discouraged
the searchers for tapadas, or treasure mounds."
There certainly appears to be some
repetition and borrowing between some of these stories. Yet most
historians and archaeologists believe that they are based on some
fact. That tunnels and lost treasure exist, there seems to be no
doubt. But the real questions are, where are they? And, who made
The treasure of the Incas is believed to still be hidden in the
tunnels that run under Cuzco and the ruins of the megalithic
fortress mentioned above called Sacsayhuaman.
The stories of a subterranean world fascinated me and I decided that
South America was a good place to investigate whatever reality there
might be in the many legends. Lost treasure has its appeal as well,
and many tunnels would probably never be explored if it were not for
some promised treasure at the end.
I began my search in Peru where I visited Ica, Pisco and Nazca to
look at the mummies, geoglyphs and catacombs. I then continued on to
Cuzco to look into the tunnels that were rumored to be in the
During this visit I went to Sacsayhuaman. The road leads up from the
Plaza de Armas to a hill on the north side of Cuzco. At a leveling
off of the hill, looking over the Cuzco Valley, is the colossal
fortress, one of the most imposing edifices ever constructed.
Walking around, we could hardly believe our eyes! Here was a stone
structure that covered the entire hill; it appeared almost
unworldly. It contains tunnel entrances that are sealed. The visitor
can walk a short distance inside some of the tunnels, but they are
ultimately blocked after 20 or 30 feet.
All over Sacsayhuaman gigantic blocks of stone, some weighing more
than 200 tons (400 thousand pounds) are fitted together perfectly.
The enormous stone blocks are cut, faced, and fitted so well that
even today one cannot slip the blade of a knife, or even a piece of
paper between them. No mortar is used, and no two blocks are alike.
Yet they fit perfectly, and it has been said by some engineers that
no modern builder with the aid of tools of the finest steel could
produce results more accurate.
Each individual stone had to have been planned well in advance; a
20-tonstone, let alone one weighing 80 to 200 tons, cannot just be
dropped casually into position with any hope of attaining that kind
of accuracy! The stones are locked and dovetailed into position,
making them earthquake-proof. Indeed, after many devastating
earthquakes in the Andes over the last few hundred years, the blocks
are still perfectly fitted, while the Spanish Cathedral in Cuzco has
been leveled twice.
Though this fantastic fortress was supposedly built just a few
hundred years ago by the Incas, they leave no record of having built
it, nor does it figure in any of their legends. How is it that the
Incas, who reportedly had no knowledge of higher mathematics, no
written language, no iron tools, and did not even use the wheel, are
credited with having built this cyclopean complex of walls and
buildings? Frankly, one must literally grope for an explanation, and
it is not an easy one.
When the Spaniards first arrived in Cuzco and saw these structures,
they thought that they had been built by the devil himself, because
of their enormity. Indeed, nowhere else can you see such large
blocks placed together so perfectly. I have traveled all over the
world searching for ancient mysteries and lost cities, but I had
never in my life seen anything like this!
The builders of the stoneworks were not merely good stone masons-
they were excellent! Similar stoneworks can be seen throughout the
Cuzco Valley. These are usually made up of finely cut, rectangular
blocks of stone weighing up to perhaps a ton. A group of strong
people could lift a block and put it in place; this is undoubtedly
how some of the smaller structures were put together. But in
Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco, and other ancient Inca cities, one can see
gigantic blocks cut with 30 or more angles each.
At the time of the Spanish conquest, Cuzco was at its peak, with
perhaps 100,000 Inca subjects living in the ancient city. The
fortress of Sacsayhuaman could hold the entire population within its
walls in case of war or natural catastrophe. Some historians have
stated that the fortress was built a few years before the Spanish
invasion, and that the Incas take credit for the structure. But, the
Incas could not recall exactly how or when it was built!
The Spanish dismantled as much of Sacsayhuaman as they could. When
Cuzco was first conquered, Sacsayhuaman had three round towers at
the top of the fortress, behind three concentric megalithic walls.
These were taken apart stone by stone, and the stones used to build
new structures for the Spanish.
Sacsayhuaman was also equipped with a subterranean network of
aqueducts. Water was brought down from the mountains into a valley,
then had to ascend a hill before reaching Sacsayhuaman. This
indicates that the engineers who built the intricate system knew
that water rises to its own level.
Garcilaso de la Vega, who wrote just after the conquest, said this
about the tunnels beneath Sacsayhuaman:
"An underground network of passages,
which was as vast as the towers themselves, connected them with
one another. This was composed of a quantity of streets and
alleyways which ran in every direction, and so many doors, all
of them identical, that the most experienced men dared not
venture into this labyrinth without a guide, consisting of a
long thread tied to the first door, which unwound as they
I often went up to the fortress with boys of my own
age, when I was a child, and we did not dare to go farther than
the sunlight itself, we were so afraid of getting lost, after
all that the Indians had told us on the subject ... the roofs of
these underground passages were composed of large flat stones
resting on rafters jutting out from the walls."
There are indeed tunnels that one may
enter at Sacsayhuaman and nearby Qenqo. If one walks behind the
Inca’s stone seat inside the fortress toward Qenqo, one will find
all sorts of bizarre stone cuttings, upside-down staircases, and
seemingly senseless rock carving on a grand scale. There are also
tunnel entrances in this area. Various rock-cut tunnels lead down
into the earth and at least one goes to another part of the mountain
area of Qenqo. All of these tunnels are blocked at some point and
this area of Sacsayhuaman is still being excavated by Peruvian
The area is quite fascinating, but it seems quite clear that one
cannot penetrate into the tunnels beneath Cuzco from these
now-blocked tunnel entrances.
The old chroniclers say the tunnels were connected with the
Coricancha, a name given to the Sun Temple and its surrounds in old
The Coricancha was originally larger than it is today and contained
many ancient temples, including the Temples of the Sun and the Moon,
and all of these buildings were believed to be connected with
Sacsayhuaman by underground tunnels. The place where these tunnels
started was known as the Chincana, or "the place where one gets
This entrance was known up until the mid-1800s, when it was
In his book "Jungle Paths and Inca Ruins", Dr.William Montgomery
"Near this fortress [Sacsayhuaman]
are several strange caverns reaching far into the earth. Here
altars to the Gods of the Deep were carved out of the living
rock, and the many bones scattered about tell of the sacrifices
which were offered up here. The end of one of these caverns, Chincana, has never been found. It is supposed to communicate by
a long underground passage with the Temple of the Sun in the
heart of Cuzco. In this cavern is supposed, and with good
reason, to be hidden a large part of the golden treasure of the
Inca Emperors which was stored away lest it fall into the hands
of the Spaniards. But the cavern is so huge, so complicated, and
its passages are so manifold, that its secret has never been
"One man, indeed, is said to have
found his way underground to the Sun Temple, and when he
emerged, to have had two golden bars in his hand. But his mind
had been affected by days of blind wandering in the subterranean
caves, and he died almost immediately afterwards. Since that
time many have gone into the cavern-never to return again. Only
a month or two before my arrival the disappearance of three
prominent people in this Inca cave caused the Prefect of the
Province of Cuzco to wall in the mouth of the cavern, so that
the secret and the treasures of the Incas seem likely to remain
Another story, which may well be derived
from the same source, tells of a treasure hunter who went into the
tunnels and wandered through the maze for several days.
about a week after the adventurer had vanished, a priest was
conducting mass in the church of Santo Domingo. The priest and his
congregation were astonished to hear sudden, sharp rappings from
beneath the church’s stone floor. Several worshipers crossed
themselves and murmured about the devil. The priest quieted his
congregation, then directed the removal of a large stone slab from
the floor (this was the converted Temple of the Sun!). The group was
surprised to see the treasure hunter emerge with a bar of gold in
Even the Peruvian government got into the act of exploring these
Cuzco tunnels, ostensibly for scientific purposes. The Peruvian Serial Documental del Peru describes an expedition undertaken by
staff from Lima University in 1923. Accompanied by experienced
speleologists, the party penetrated the trapezoid-shaped tunnels
starting from an entrance at Cuzco.
They took measurements of the subterranean aperture and advanced in
the direction of the coast. After a few days, members of the
expedition at the entrance of the tunnel lost contact with the
explorers inside, and no communication came for twelve days. Then a
solitary explorer returned to the entrance, starving. His reports of
an underground labyrinth of tunnels and deadly obstacles would make
an Indiana Jones movie seem tame by comparison. His tale was so
incredible that his colleagues declared him mad. To prevent further
loss of life in the tunnels, the police dynamited the entrance.
More recently, the big Lima earthquake of 1972 brought to light a
tunnel system beneath that coastal city. During salvage operations,
workers found long passages no one had ever known existed. The
following systematic examination of Lima’s foundations led to the
astonishing discovery that large parts of the city were undercut by
tunnels, all leading into the mountains. But their terminal points
could no longer be ascertained because they had collapsed during the
course of the centuries. Did the Cuzco tunnels explored in 1923 lead
As far back as the 1940s, Harold Wilkins, in his books
("Mysteries of Ancient South America" and "Secret Cities of Old
South America") wrote that they did.
Tunnels to the
Hidden City of Paititi?
In my quest for the lost treasure of the Incas and the tunnel
systems associated with it, I joined up in the search for Paititi,
the ultimate lost city of the Incas according to Cuzco legends.
While the Incas placed some of their hoard in the Cuzco tunnel
system to hide it from the conquering Spanish, other treasure
(including 14 gold-clad mummies of the former Inca emperors removed
from the Sun Temple) was sent by llama caravan into the Antisuyo
region of South America, the mountain jungle area east of Cuzco. The
caravan’s destination was a mountain-jungle city called "Paikikin"
in Quechua which is supposed to mean "like the other." The Spanish
called this city El Gran Paititi.
It is well known that the Incan Empire at its height stretched from
north of Quito in Ecuador, south along the Andes and west to the
coast, all the way down into central Chile. What is not generally
known is just how far east the Incas had set up their roads, trade
routes and cities. The Incas did have a trade network that stretched
eastward deep into the jungles on the east side of the Andes. Salt
was frequently carried across the mountains in exchange for gold and
According to Jorge Arellano, director of the Institute of
Archaeology in La Paz, Bolivia, Inca ruins have been found in the
Bolivian state of Beni, which is several hundred miles east of the
Andes and in dense jungle. He says that a series of small fortresses
in the jungle form a line in an easterly direction. He believes that
the Incas used these fortresses as stop overs on their migration
from the Madre de Dios area of Peru, believed by some to be the site
Though there is little doubt that Paititi did exist, there is a
great deal of myth surrounding this lost city. Harold Wilkins
believes that the Incas escaped from the Spanish after the battle of Ollantaytambo by fleeing through a branch of the tunnel system
discussed earlier, heading east toward Paititi. This may well be
true, though it was hardly necessary for the Incas to have fled
through a tunnel. They could have left by canoe, then crossed the
mountains using the excellent Inca roads.
Assuming this tunnel did exist, Wilkins thinks it went due east from Cuzco, through the jungles, to the empire of Paititi. He indicates
that Paititi was a separate kingdom, ruled by mysterious white men
whose king was known as the "Tiger King." According to Wilkins,
Paititi means "jaguar." The Tiger King, or Jaguar King, lived in a
white house by a great lake.
In 1681, a Jesuit missionary named Fray Lucero wrote of information
given to him by Indians in the Rio Huallaga area of northeastern
Peru. They told him that the lost city of Gran Paititi lay behind
the forests and mountains east of Cuzco.
The Jesuit wrote,
"This empire of Gran Paytite has bearded, white
Indians. The nation called Curveros, these Indians told me, dwell in
a place called Yurachuasi or the ’white house.’ For king, they have
a descendant of the Inca Tupac Amaru, who with 40,000 Peruvians,
fled far away into the forests, before the face of the conquistadors
of Francisco Pizarro’s day in AD 1533.
He took with him a rich
treasure, and the Castilians who pursued him fought each other in
the forests, leaving the savage Chuncho Indios, who watched their
internecine struggles, to kill off the wounded and shoot the
survivors with arrows. I myself have been shown plates of gold and
half-moons and ear-rings of gold that have come from this mysterious
This story is independently documented in the book "Amazonas
y El Maranon" by Fray Manuel Rodriguez, published in 1684, according
Many people seem to confuse Gran Paititi and El Dorado, though the
legends locate them thousands of miles apart. El Dorado is often
believed to be in the vicinity of the Orinoco River near the borders
of Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil. In early 1559, the Viceroy of
Peru wanted to rid his country of unemployed soldiers and
troublesome Spanish adventurers, so he sent a party of 370 Spaniards
and thousands of Andean Indians on an expedition down the Amazon in
search of a legendary city of gold.
This expedition was an utter
failure, during which the men mutinied, and a psychopathic soldier,
Lopez de Aguirre, killed the leader Pedro de Ursua. Taking over the
expedition, he abandoned the search for "El Dorado," vowing to
return and conquer Peru itself. This wild and incredible adventure,
during which the women warriors known as Amazons were first
reported, and the Amazon River was first navigated, was made into a
German movie called, Aguirre: The Wrath of God.
This disastrous expedition was the beginning of the confusion
between El Dorado and Paititi, the real city of gold. It searched in
an area far removed from where Paititi appears to be located, and
this is why most adventurers after "El Dorado" searched in the
vicinity of Columbia and Venezuela instead of Peru, where the
legends actually originated.
One adventurer who searched for Paititi was Pedro Bohorques, a
penniless soldier who pretended to be a nobleman. In 1659, after
serving in Chile, Bohorques became a wanderer. Calling himself Don
Pedro el Inca, he swore that royal Inca blood flowed through his
veins. Bohorques set himself up as emperor of an Indian kingdom at
the headwaters of the Huallaga River south of Cuzco. He converted
almost 10,000 Pelados Indians into his service, and declared all
Spaniards fair game. He also sent some of his followers on a search
for Paititi, hoping to find the treasure.
When these men did not come back with gold, Bohorques left his
empire and went to Lima. Unfortunately, the Spaniards had heard of
his decree against them, threw him in prison, and sentenced him to
death. He pled for his life, promising to reveal the location of the
Kingdom of Gran Paititi if he was released. The judges refused his
offer, but many gold hunters visited him in prison, begging him to
share his secret with them. He refused, and went to the gallows in
1667, much to the chagrin of the treasure hunters of Lima.
Actually, it is not likely that Bohorques knew the location of
Paititi (since his adventurers returned without gold), though he was
in the correct area, and may have learned the general location.
Also, Paititi was probably still a living city at this time, so it
would have been difficult for Bohorques or anyone else to enter.
Of course, the search for Gran Paititi still continues, and many
explorers feel that they are getting close. Today, many feel that
Paititi is somewhere in the Paucartambo area of Peru, east of Cuzco
toward the Madre de Dios River.
This is the same area in which Fray
Lucero indicated that Gran Paititi could be found. Some expeditions,
however, because they either found the city or disturbed the Indians
too much in their search, end up dead. Boston anthropologist Gregory Deyermenjian and British photographer
Michael Mirecki mounted their
own expedition into this area in 1984. Their goal was a jungle
mountain in eastern Peru called Apucatinti. I accompanied
According to many sources, the mountain on which Paititi is located
is called Apucatinti, though exactly which mountain is really
Apucatinti is open for debate. The word means "Lord of the Sun" in
Quechua, and any mountain with this name (there are several) is a
good candidate for having Paititi on it.
As noted above, Paititi comes from the Quechua word "Paikikin" which
means "the same as the other" which has also been translated as "the
same as Cuzco." What could it mean, "The same as Cuzco?"
Deyermenjian thinks that this indicates Paititi is another stone
city, similar in its construction to that found at Cuzco and
Sacsayhuaman; a megalithic city like
Machu Picchu. On the other
hand, it may mean that Paititi is like Cuzco in the sense that it is
the abode of the Inca kings, as Cuzco once was. If Paititi was built
from scratch by the retreating Inca royal fringe, then the ruins are
more likely to be similar to those found at Espiritu Pampa: small
and unimpressive. Machu Picchu also has part of a tunnel that can be
found off the trail on the northern part of the city.
Historically, Gran Paititi was not reported as being located on top
of a mountain, but rather by a lake. If these older reports are
correct, Paititi may be further into the jungles to the east or
south. Some researchers even believe that it may still be a living
city, where the Inca tradition is still carried on. Many areas,
particularly to the east, could have remained under Inca control for
quite some time after the Spanish conquest.
Then again, Apucatinti may well be the site of a long-dead Paititi.
Demoralized and cut off from their former empire, the surviving
Incas could have existed on top of this remote mountain in a
self-sufficient city much like Machu Picchu, until they died out.
Deyermenjian backs this theory, and thinks that the city effectively
died about the year 1600, a mere 30 or 40 years after the Incas
escaped to their refuge there.
In June of 1986, I accompanied Greg Deyermenjian and a party of
Peruvians to scale the Apucatinti in Mameria. It took one week by
horseback to the edge of the jungle, and a further two weeks of
living with Machiguenga Indians in effort to scale the peak. We
discovered Inca buildings, ovens, tombs and coca plantations, as
well as the first-ever structures in the Madre de Dios district of
Peru, but the ascent to the top of the mountain was extremely
difficult. The mountain has no fresh water, and is covered in thick,
almost impenetrable jungle.
We ascended the mountain for five days
from the base, with Machiguenga Indians leading the way. However,
after running out of food and water, we had to return to the Indian
In August of 1986, Deyermenjian returned to Mameria by himself, and
made it to the summit of Apucatinti with his Indian guides. To their
disappointment, neither Paititi nor any other structures were at the
summit of the mountain. It had been a false lead, but it had looked
like a good prospect. Deyermenjian continued to search for Paititi,
focusing on a nearby area that was even more remote than Mameria and
It urned my attentions to Bolivia.
A Tunnel in
With several old friends from the World Explorers Club, including
Carl Hart, Steve Yenouskas, and Raul Fernandez, I journeyed to Peru
and Bolivia to discover what we could of the tunnels in South
America. After a week in Peru, we set off one day from Cuzco for
Tiahuanaco and then to eastern Bolivia to the strange hilltop city
Samaipata. I had visited Samaipata by myself in the mid-80s, and
wrote about the strange "fort" in my book "Lost Cities & Ancient
Mysteries of South America".
At the time, I was the 153rd person to visit the site since it had
been opened to the public in 1974.
Erich von Daniken had visited the site in the early 70s and had
described it as a "rocket launching pad" for his alien visitors. The
site itself was bizarre enough: high on the summit of mountain was a
large outcrop of rock that had been cut into various rooms,
channels, pools, chairs, petroglyphs and odd, crisscross grooves.
The whole place was extremely ancient and worn, and apparently there
had once been walls and buildings that were now long gone. A large
jaguar was carved into the solid at the western end of the "fort."
Was Samaipata a cult center for the jaguar? Was it a mining city? Or
possibly a remote fort on the eastern edge of the mountain
highlands, watching over the lower valleys to the east? No
archaeologist has so far come up with an answer to Samaipata,
including who built the "city" and when. On a National Geographic
map of archaeological sites in South America that I carried with me,
Samaipata was not even listed.
The strangest part of Samaipata was a feature that was hidden in the
jungle about a 100 meters south of the main fort, a tunnel into the
ground that was called by the locals the Camino de la Chinchana, or
the "Path of the Subterranean."
The Camino de la Chinchana was a tunnel that began as a two-meter
opening to a pit that went straight down for about 6 meters. Once
one had made the first descent down to the floor of the pit,
something that would take a rope or a ladder, then one would find
himself standing in a tunnel that was high enough and wide enough
for a man to stand without stooping. This tunnel then descended
downhill from the fort, apparently going in a northwest direction.
According to the caretaker of Samaipata, the tunnel had been
explored once by Bolivian archaeologists who had entered the pit
with a rope and had advanced some 100 meters or more into the
tunnel. The air became stale and a small cave-in had blocked a
portion of the tunnel.
Without proper breathing gear, the team was
unable to advance any farther into the earth.
The tunnel was clearly man-made, and at least around the entrance,
it was dug out of dirt, rather than cut out of solid rock. I asked
the caretaker of Samaipata where this tunnel was supposed to go. He
pointed to the north, across the valley, to a mountain about 15
kilometers away. This mountain looked something like the back molar
in a row of teeth.
"There", he said, pointing to the mountain, "there to
La Muela del
Diablo, is where the archaeologists say that the tunnel goes. On
that mountain is supposed to be another city, just as here."
Using my dictionary, I translated La Muela
del Diablo as "The Devil’s
Dimple." This tunnel was said to run from the top of the mountain of Samaipata down to the valley, beneath a river, and then up to a
mountain on the other side.
Carl, Steve, Raul and I made a brief search of the area around the
Devil’s Dimple but could not find evidence of any lost city or of a
tunnel entrance. It was a cursory exploration that proved or
disproved little. Still the fact remained that the entrance to a
bizarre man-made tunnel, one that was apparently thousands of years
old, existed at the weird ruins of Samaipata.
Was it the entrance to a lost mine used thousands of years ago? Was
it a spur of the legendary tunnels near Cuzco? The thought that one
might be able to enter into a vast labyrinth of tunnels beneath the
Andes by entering the Camino tic la Chinchana was an exciting
thought. The entrance still exists at Samaipata, waiting for a bold
adventurer with the right equipment to discover its secrets.
myself and Carl, we were to continue on to Brazil and the even more
intriguing tunnel entrance at Sao Tome das Letras near Sao Paulo.
Beneath Sao Tome das Letras
Our WEX team had to split up, with Steve and Raul returning to Peru
and the U.S. while Carl and I headed down to Corumba, the Bolivian
bordertown with Brazil. From there we took a bus through the Matto
Grosso to Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America.
In Sao Paulo Carl and I visited my Brazilian publisher and various
Brazilian friends. I had received a letter from a Brazilian woman
who had read the Portuguese version of my book Lost Cities & Ancient
Mysteries of South America and had written me a letter concerning
the opening to a tunnel system at the resort mountain town of Sao
Tome das Letras. Her name was Marli and she worked at one of the
many banks in Sao Paulo.
Carl and I met with Marli one night for dinner and she told us about
the town and the tunnel entrance. Sao Tome das Letras is Portuguese
for "Saint Thomas of the Letters" and is the rather long name of a
small town north of Sao Paulo that, like Samaipata in Bolivia, is on
the top of a mountain.
Sao Tome das Letras is in fact a well-known
tourist town in Sao Paulo state, though I had never heard of it.
Being on top of a mountain, it had good views, was cooler than Sao
Paulo, and offered hiking trails, good restaurants and an artist
colony for atmosphere. It also had the entrance to a man-made tunnel
system, a feature well known to visitors of the small town.
Carl and I suggested to Marli that the three of us take a trip to
Sao Tome das Letras and see the entrance to the tunnel system. She
agreed to accompany the two of us as our guide and interpreter. We
left the next day, taking a bus for some four or five hours out of
Sao Paulo, heading on a major highway toward the city of Belo
Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais.
Soon the bus turned off the main road and headed up a narrow paved
road for some distant, low mountains. Eventually the road wound its
way to the top of one of the mountains and we found ourselves in Sao
Tome das Letras.
Carl, Marli and I grabbed our luggage from beneath the bus and stood
on the cobblestone street at the lower edge of town. There were many
quaint houses, all made of well carved stone with tile roofs and
small windows. I noticed that stonework and even stacks of stone
slate, was everywhere. Sao Tome das Letras was not only a tourist
town, it was also a mountaintop quarry.
We walked up the main street and found a small hotel to spend the
night, leaving our packs and other luggage in the hotel. By now it
was late afternoon and we had only time to walk about town and
familiarize ourselves with this pleasant area.
Later, Marli took us to a local restaurant where a crowd of young
people had gathered to hear the local restaurant owner talk about
the mysteries of Sao Tome das Letras. He was a large man, in his
50s, who spoke in Portuguese to the 20 or so people gathered in his
The crowd listened intently as the man spoke and occasionally I
asked Marli what he was saying.
"He is talking about the tunnel that
is at the northern edge of town," said Marli, whispering to me.
"He says that the tunnel is open as far as anyone has ever
walked through it. At no place is the tunnel blocked. The tunnel
is man-made, but no one knows who built it or where it goes."
"The Brazilian army went into the tunnel one time to find out
where it ends. After travelling for four days through the tunnel
the team of Army explorers eventually came to a large room deep
underground. This room had four openings to four tunnels, each
going in a different direction. They had arrived in the room by
one of the tunnels."
"They stayed in the room for sometime, using it as their base
and attempted to explore each of the other three tunnels, but
after following each for some time, turned back to the large
room. Eventually they returned to the surface, here at Sao Tome
The man continued talking about the
Apparently he gave this lecture every night at his restaurant.
"Now he is saying," continued Marli,
"that there is a man here in town who claims to know the tunnel
and claims that he has been many weeks inside the tunnel. This
man claims that the tunnel goes all the way to Peru, to Machu
Picchu in the Andes. This man claims that he went completely
under South America, across Brazil and to Machu Picchu. Isn’t
I raised an eyebrow and looked at Carl.
He nodded to me at the fantastic nature of the story.
"Does this restaurant owner say that
he has been through the tunnel to Peru?" asked Carl.
"No," said Marli, "it is not this man, it is another man. I
don’t know who this other man is. But now he is telling another
story, this time it is about himself. He says that he was
walking early in the morning on the north side of town, near to
the tunnel entrance. On this morning, he suddenly met a strange
man walking in the area of the tunnel. This man was very tall,
about seven feet, and dressed strangely, like the Indians of the
Andes in Peru and Bolivia. The man did not talk to him, but
walked away. Later, the restaurant owner tried to find this man,
but no one knew about him or knew who he was . The restaurant
owner thinks that he came from the tunnel!"
As we left the restaurant, Carl, Marli
and I were quite stunned. It all seemed so incredible.
"Well, Marli," I said, "tomorrow we
must see this tunnel and explore it!"
The next morning after breakfast, we
checked our flashlights, put water and snacks into our daypacks, and
set off up the cobblestone streets of Sao Tome das Letras to the
north side of town.
It didn’t take long to find the tunnel entrance; already four or
five young people were gathered around the entrance looking into the
The entrance was quite large. It was a wide mouth of a cave with a
mound of dirt creating a small hill over the entrance. The cavern
entrance faced to the west and immediately began running down hill,
into the earth. The tunnel/ cavern would have to go downhill, as we
were essentially on top of a mountain.
With our flashlights in hand, we entered the cavern. Within a few
meters, the cavern entrance narrowed into a tunnel which was about
three meters (9 feet) high and two meters wide. The tunnel was dug
out of dirt, and was not cut out of solid rock, as some tunnels are.
The tunnel headed down ward at a steady slope, but it was not too
steep. As mall channel, made by running water moving through this
part of the tunnel (and perhaps by the visitors walking through it)
was in the middle of the floor, sort of a small "trail" worn into the
floor. At no point was it ever necessary to duck, stoop or crawl in
this tunnel. Quite the opposite, it was quite wide and high, even
for the tallest man to walk through, even someone who was, say,
seven feet tall!
I was amazed at this ancient feat of engineering. We were descending
down into the earth in a wide, gradually slopping tunnel that was
dug into a red, clay-type dirt. It was not the smooth, laser-cut
rock walls that Erich von Daniken had claimed to have seen in
Ecuador in his book Gold of the Gods, but it was just as incredible.
It wouldn’t have taken some space-age device to make this tunnel,
just simple tools; yet, it was clearly a colossal undertaking. Why
would anyone build such a tunnel? Was it an ancient mine that went
deep into the earth, searching for an elusive vein of gold or merely
red clay for the long gone ceramic kilns? Was it an elaborate escape
tunnel used in the horrific wars that were said to have been fought
in South America-and around the world-in the distant past? Or was it
some bizarre subterranean road that linked up with other tunnels in
the Andes and ultimately could be used to journey safely to such
places as Machu Picchu, Cuzco or the Atacama Desert?
combination of all three.
Marli, Carl and I continued walking through the tunnel for a
kilometer or so. Other visitors to Sao Tome das Letras followed us
into the subterranean system. The tunnel was not perfectly straight,
but wound left and right and occasionally dropped down a few feet
and continued on. It was perfectly dry and the air was fresh and
Eventually, after an hour or so, we came to a spot in the tunnel
where it suddenly dropped down about a meter and a half. It was not
a great obstacle and we could see the tunnel continuing downward,
but it was a convenient place to stop. We had a candy bar and a
drink from our daypacks and rested at this spot and then decided to
go back to the surface. We had no intention of continuing for
several days to the fabled room of four doors deep beneath Brazil.
We simply weren’t prepared for such an expedition.
Back on the surface, we had lunch in one of the restaurants and
prepared to get a bus back to Sao Paulo. We talked about the bizarre
tunnel. It was real, there was no doubt about that. It was man-made
as well, as the tunnel was perfectly uniform and contained no
fissures or faults of any kind.
Did it really go to Machu Picchu and the Andes? It seemed
incredible, but we could not discount this story. Not yet anyway.
Perhaps in the future we would return to Sao Tome das Letras, and
find the secret of the room with four doors.
The Lost Pyramid in the Valley of the Blue Moon.
Back at the World Explorers Club, I began investigating other tales
of tunnels and lost cities in Peru. My search eventually led me to
the strange story of the Valley of the Blue Moon and a secret
monastery of the Andes.
This monastery is the subject of a book, "Secret of the Andes", by
George Hunt Williamson, written under the pen name Brother Philip.
Williamson was also the author of a number of other books, including
"The Saucers Speak" (1954), "Other Tongues, Other Flesh" (1957),
"Secret Places of the Lion" (1958) and "Road in the Sky" (1959).
was an adventurer and anthropologist, and a believer in lost
continents. Williamson was no doubt a fascinating person (he died in
1986), however it is clear that he fabricated much of the "true"
information in his books and even used material typed directly from
Richard Shaver’s book "I Remember Lemuria!" as his own past life
But George Hunt Williamson cannot be dismissed too easily. He must
be given credit for bringing some of the popular mysteries of South Americain to the forefront. Williamson had made expeditions into the
Madre de Dios jungles of Peru in search of Paititi in the early
1950s, as many British explorers were attempting to do.
various books, he talked about many of the mysteries of Peru
including Paititi, tunnel systems, the weird stone formations on the
Marcahuasi Plateau near Lima, and the Nazca Lines along the southern
coast. Undoubtedly, later writers such as Erich von Daniken, Charles
Berlitz and Robert Charroux used his writings as early guidebooks to
the mysteries of Peru.
While at times the fact and fancy in the pages of Secret of the
Andes seem to merge, the first part of the book makes good reading.
According to Williamson, a "Lord Muru" arrived at Lake Titicaca at
some time in the remote past, when the Andes Mountains were first
uplifted in a cataclysmic event that also sank the Pacific continent
of Mu. Lord Muru set up the "Monastery of the Brotherhood of the
Seven Rays," which was to keep the secrets and treasures of his race
in its archives.
Among these treasures was the Golden Sun Disc of Mu. Williamson
maintains that this Sun Disc was later given to the Incas, when they
had advanced enough spiritually to appreciate it. But when the
Spaniards conquered Peru, the Sun Disc was removed from the Sun
Temple at Cuzco, and placed back in safekeeping at the monastery.
There is still some indication that a tunnel system, and perhaps a
hidden "monastery" does exist in South America. The legend of the
Valley of the Blue Moon is one that has a life beyond Brother Philip
and George Hunt Williamson.
One story told to me by a friend from Indianapolis, Bryan Strohm,
also tends to confirm that there is a secret, underground, "city" in
the Andes east of Lake Titicaca.
Bryan came to visit me at the World Explorers Club in Kempton while
I was researching the tunnels and told me of his quest for the
Valley of the Blue Moon some years before. Bryan arrived in Lima and
flew to Cuzco to take the train to Puno. From Puno he took a truck
to San Juan del Oro, in the rugged mountains northeast of Lake
He continued past San Juan del Oro by truck to another small village
where he met a school teacher who told him an interesting story of a
local Quechua Indian who had wandered over a high altitude ridge in
the mountains where he saw a small mountain lake with grassy fields
leading down to it. It was a small, hidden valley in the Andes.
The Indian was camping beside this lake when late at night he heard
the sound of chanting. He hid behind a bush, and soon saw a group of
men dressed in white robes. These men came walking down a trail to
the lake, chanting and carrying some kind of lights with them.
Terrified, the man hid behind the bush and then watched as the men
in white robes began to chant around the lake. The water in the
small mountain lake then levitated out of the lake. Astonished, the
man then saw steps that were cut in the solid rock, going down to a
pedestals and a platform made out of stone. There may have been some
sort of door going into the earth among these stone structures. The
men in white robes then performed some unknown ceremony.
The man watched for some time until suddenly he was seen by the
central figure on the pedestal who turned to the hiding man and
suddenly raised his arms into the air and created a storm. A cloud
immediately appeared and began to hail on the man. A bolt of
lightning struck nearby.
The Quechua Indian ran from the bushes and, with the hail and
lightning following him, went back down the mountains the way he had
come. When he returned to the villages below he told the strange
story to others, and it was now well known.
Bryan also mentioned that the Valley of the Blue Moon, which appears
to be in a different location from the lake, was said to have a huge
pyramid at the end of it. Bryan spent two weeks hiking on the trails
around San Juan del Oro and eventually came to large but hidden
valley which had a gigantic pyramid-shaped mountain at the end of
The pyramid-mountain was distant and obscured by clouds. They
thought that they might reach the area of the pyramid with only a
day’s walk after glimpsing the pyramid, but two and a half days
later they had still not reached it. Clouds obscured their view most
of time, but occasionally they would clear for a short time and
reveal the pyramid-mountain to them. This pyramid-mountain, he
believed, was the true location of the secret brotherhood which
George Hunt Williamson had described in his books.
Storms and lack of food eventually drove their party back to a small
village near San Juan del Oro. They didn’t reach their destination,
but Bryan said that they were all convinced that they had found the
Valley of the Blue Moon and that there was something unusual about
There are plenty of people who feel that something unusual is going
on underground, not only in South America, but in North America,
Europe, Asia, Africa and around the world. A huge underground tunnel
system connecting distant points on earth is a fascinating
possibility. Does it exist? Who will find it? How far back was it
Time, shall we say, will tell.