Saturday, September 08, 2018

Treasure Quest and the Secret Road

I have come to believe that the producers of Treasure Quest believe that we all are pretty dumb. The last two episodes prove that point. First, we have the great snake fight as they try to chase away a rather large snake that was annoying the burros. I’m just not sure of the wisdom of messing with something like that. I don’t know what kind of snake it was, but I do know there are some very deadly snakes in the area and a bite would prove fatal unless they could get to the hospital quickly.

Yes, that’s my take away from that episode. About the only other thing they did was discover a tunnel and managed to break through the top. They explored it quickly but found little. C. H. Prodgers, who was one of the first to search for the treasure at the turn of the last century had found tunnels as well. Seems like the Jesuits, who built the mission and who were responsible for mining in the area, built lots of tunnels and mine shafts. Finding one was not of great importance.

The episode was a sort of “let’s get this show on the road” type thing, setting up those episodes that would follow. Just enough to hold our interest (well, almost) and get us to come back to see if anything exciting happens next.

It was in episode three where I think the whole thing comes off the rails. It demonstrates that there is a lot of imagination going on and I’m not sure we can call this a reality show anymore. There was obviously research that had been conducted by the production staff about this area before anyone arrived and there was a long list of necessary equipment created.

Here’s what I mean. They have metal detectors. They have ground penetrating radar. They have another device that allows them to look below the surface and has been instrumental in them locating and following one of these tunnels which is different from the ground penetrating radar. I have to ask, “How do they power all these electronic devices?”

Sure, they brought in batteries, but how do they recharge them? They need a source of electricity, and if there is wiring for electricity into the area, then it is not as remote as they suggest. And if there isn’t, then they had to bring in something to create the electricity to recharge all those batteries which suggests that the area is not as remote as they suggest.

Taking this a step further, and I’ve mention this before, what about all the camera and sound equipment? In this last episode we watch as they take apart one of the drones, attach the parts of it to another piece of equipment that is used by the camera crew and make some sort of remote control rover. Now, attaching a camera to it, they can explore the tunnel they found that was almost completely blocked by a cave-in. They just allow the rover to drive through the small opening at the top of the debris, and now they can look at the other side of the tunnel. But what that really tells us is that they have a lot of stuff that we haven’t seen and I wonder where it all came from.

They begin to dig another access point beyond the cave in, found by using that fancy equipment. They’re digging with picks and shovels, and since this is a treasure hunt, you’d expect them to bring that sort of thing in with them. But, you must remember that these tools are heavy and apparently, they didn’t have all that many burros on their long trek into the Sacambaya Valley, which suggests the journey was more drama than necessity.

They realize that digging another hole to get into the tunnel is nearly impossible because the ground is too hard or too rocky. They’re going to need something heavier. We learn now that there is a mining town not all that far away. They can walk to it in a matter of hours, okay, twelve or thirteen hours, to see if there is any heavy equipment available to rent, all the while assuming there will be a way to get that stuff back to the valley. I mean you can rent all the excavators you want but if there is no road, then the excavator will be useless.

A 3D view of Quime and the roads leading in and out.
To me this idea of heavy equipment and a road is an incredible piece of information and deduction. According to what we have been told before, or shown before, the Sacambaya Valley is nearly impossible to reach. They had to walk in with burros carrying everything they would need such as food. How big is that crew anyway? We do see a cameraman so we learn that not only the on-air “talent” is there, but something of a support staff as well… But I digress.

They make the trek, find the town, and find a company that is willing to rent them some heavy equipment such as an excavator and a back hoe. First, of course, they must get a blessing from a local shaman. I find this interesting from an anthropological point of view, but it does nothing to really advance the story. Just what Hollywood used to call “Oat meal.” That is, something put into a story to stretch it out. Filler.

They manage to rent the equipment (why am I not surprised), and, one of the locals knows of a “secret” road that leads back, into the
Downtown Quime.
Sacambaya Valley. Really? There is a road into the area? And since they’re in a town, there are roads leading to it as well so the journey over the Highway of Death and then with the burros down into the valley could have been avoided if they all had been smart enough to check out the surrounding area. Someone surely had to know what was going on. You just don’t assume that you’ll be able to get to the town, rent the equipment you need, and that there will be a road to take them back into the valley. This does, sort of, wreck my helicopter theory but it also smacks of a script.

Anyway, they rent the equipment and head out, but no, there is another obstacle. Part of the road has been washed out. They get their SUV beyond it, but the tractor-trailer carrying the excavator is too big and too heavy to make it across. BUT WAIT, one of the local men has a friend who can bring them some logs to bridge the gap. Sure, he can get there quickly, but it will cost them. Sure, he does get there quickly.

And yes, they bridge the gap, get the equipment across just as part of the bridge falls away. Does anyone else see this as just another part of the script to enhance the drama?

To recap briefly. They entered the area unaware of the mining community only a long walk from the Sacambaya Valley. They are unaware of the road that leads from that community to where they are working. According to them, they didn’t see the road on any map, but I wonder if they have ever heard of Google Earth.

We know they trekked over to Quime, which isn’t all that isolated. There are roads on the aerial views that lead in and out of town. These are unnamed roads, which might not appear on any maps, but do show up on Google Earth. Did the producers not search the area using the Internet? Had they never heard of Google Earth? Wouldn’t this explain where the burros came from in the first place?

One of the hotel rooms available in Quime.
There are two hotels, at least, in Quime, and neither are very expensive. While the walk to them might take ten or twelve hours, I’m thinking that it would be worth the effort for a couple of days of living inside where there would be hot water, better food, and probably Internet access. And they wouldn’t have to worry about snakes joining them in their sleeping bags, something else they would have had to bring in on the backs of those poor, tiny burros.

Here’s the point. We are lead to believe that these guys trekked in, avoiding danger, dodging landslides and snakes and other hazards. But the equipment they have suggests something else. There is no visible support for the technology, but it still works. There is no electricity but the batteries never run down. They have all the food they need and while I’m not sure about the river water as a source of potable water, there certainly are ways to purify it.

But the point that leaves me cold was the location of the town with mining equipment and a road that leads back to the Sacambaya Valley. They say that it wasn’t on the maps which might be true, but it is on Google Earth and I don’t believe that they headed into the area without knowing about it. I find that a little dishonest but then, the isolation and the invented danger certainly makes for better television. I’d hate to think they were spending their nights in a hotel in Quime, and using their SUV to get to the valley to shoot the adventure when the production schedule called for it.

So, here’s my prediction. They will find little bits and pieces of old coins and other artifacts, but they’ll just not be able to get to the big stash. In the end, they’ll just fade away as those looking for the Treasure of the Trinity faded away after it seemed they were onto something. This is just an adventure show that is pretending to be reality, but it is nothing more than a scripted adventure created for entertainment.

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