from Ancient-Origins Website
"Toes" seen at the base
of the strange rock structure
found on the expedition.
While the search for hidden cave entrances continues, our recent expedition also demonstrated that the secrets of the area may go beyond the caves and tales of Father Crespi and his mysterious treasures.
The journey to the village where our host Luis lives near the Pastaza River is not an easy one - but it sure is exciting for those who crave the adventure that accompanies steep, slippery slopes, a "bridge of danger" (a thin tree trunk and another piece of wood placed beside it), and outcroppings of jagged rocks in the Amazonian jungle.
Our small group was comprised of team members John and Alicia, and archaeology enthusiasts and AO Premium members Wendi and Scott.
We arrived to the village with a few bumps and bruises, but altogether ready to begin the search for cave entrances and whatever else may arise.
Scott, John and Wendi
break from hiking to snap a photo in the rainforest.
The community welcomed us warmly and were glad to have new visitors.
As we prepared our simple rooms we were provided with some papaya from their garden. We conversed over dinner about past and future guests before heading down to the river to do some stargazing.
As the fog rolled in we returned to the dark lodging house where a cold bucket shower awaited those who felt the humidity was already having its affect.
Part of the jungle not far from the village.
We soon learned that we
were not the only beings in that lodging - bats and a snake made
their appearance known that night and over the next few days.
Examples of two of the more benign creatures
we encountered on our expedition.
At 8:30 am we set out with a spring in our step. Unfortunately, shortly after we had passed some slim paths we were attacked by powerful wasps which could pierce our clothing and hold on even when we tried to shake and swat them off.
That experience left most of us with some big red welts for the rest of the expedition. We weren't going to let that unlucky experience stop us though!
Our first planned stop was to visit one of the cave entrances found during the last expedition.
After repelling in, John
informed us that it was unpassable once inside.
When we had conquered the slippery mud on the way in, we were met by an endless series of angry bats and birds. Lucky for us they only swooped down and crossed our path.
The screeching of the
distressed animals may provide some explanation for why the
people believed that spirits could be found within the cave and
would not continue to search those tunnels after a certain point.
Scott braved the cliffs
and entered what we soon called "the Scott Path" a small area that
was near the roof of the cave and involved very careful footwork to
cross jagged rocks.
No treasure or traces of it were found within.
We did, however, find evidence of possible stone tools amongst an assemblage of soft black rocks. Apart from this, we noticed a strange white substance with gold droplets on some pieces of twig-like objects as well.
Up from one black rock
and white substance grouping we found the skeleton of a bird.
of the soft black rocks found in one of the caves.
with one of the possible stone scrapers.
of the white substance and twig-like objects.
The serpent let us be,
and we made haste towards the end of that section.
water in one of the caves.
John scaled the slippery rocks and set off inside to check things out as we flashed a light from another side to see if it was a real room or just a short passage.
The light was seen and
John prepared to make his descent… only to find that the way he had
climbed up was not so easy to return down.
As the rock ledge he was standing on broke away, Scott fell down onto his back into the middle of the passage!
This was probably the
only time he was happy to be carrying the large and padded backpack!
Scott taking a well-deserved break out of the caves.
We were rewarded for our curiosity with a mysterious rock structure that ran along a large section of land near the river.
However, we had to leave it behind for at least one night, as 6 pm and the quick falling darkness was on its way.
General view and detail of the large rock structure
we encountered on the expedition.
But the rocks could not
be our focus that day and after a quick survey of the area we
continued to search for cave entrances.
As some of us cooled
ourselves in the cool water, Wendi set off over a smaller "rock
wall" and explored the area nearby. She found a possible cave
entrance under some trees and called the rest of the team over to
the calmer waters of the river.
However, the hot sun and
physical stressors began to take its toll on the team and we had to
return to camp a little earlier that day.
However, we could not find any entrances that we could get through or any clear archaeological material suggesting its purpose or creation.
Thus, the team split in two groups and hacked our way through the brush to climb up and over the apparent "wall" of giant rocks, but we still found no entrance or concrete evidence that the large stones had been placed intentionally.
Without other tools, we were unable to see past or under the large stones.
So, their origins remain
Photos of the strange rock structure.
The river had risen quite
a lot over the last few days and we saw clear clues of the impending
rainy season. The team climbed and slashed our way through brush up
towards the white rock face that stood far above the river.
Unfortunately, all the
openings proved to be impenetrable and one sharp rock inside
provided a deep cut into a team member's hand.
We returned to our
lodging where we mended ourselves more thoroughly with the medkits
and tried to rest our aching bodies on the lightly cushioned beds.
Our departure for
was planned for 7:30 am and, despite the increasing clouds and more
frequent rain drops, we said our goodbyes to the village.
What secrets does this fascinating region still hold and when will they be revealed? Our time in the Tayos village and caves was an experience no one will forget.
The following are reflections written by Wendi and Scott on what they've taken away from this expedition.