Monday, September 17, 2018

Treasure Quest - The Bolivian Brown and a Bale Seal

Well, another episode and another major disappointment. However, it did get me thinking about the production of the show rather than what was happening on my TV screen.

What do you mean, you might ask?

Remember that we were treated to that harrowing ride on the Highway of Death, the trek with a number of burros, the just missed landslide, and all the other obstacles they had to defeat just to reach the Sacambaya Valley where the treasure is allegedly hidden. I wonder just how many people made the trek, how much equipment they had brought in with them, and how much food and other supplies they had. Certainly, way too much for the short burro train we saw.

Since we have seen all four of the treasure hunters on screen at the same time, there is obviously a cameraman somewhere around. The shots change suggesting a cameraman. There might be two because the team is sometimes split. Once, some of them went to Quime, and others stayed behind digging around, suggesting two cameramen.

Larry King Live! in the desert near Rachel, Nevada. While this was a live show, the point is that there are many
support people and lots of equipment required. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.

The number isn’t all that important. What is important is the myth that they’re in some remote area which is nearly impossible to reach. They had trekked in, mainly on foot. But we now see there are more than just the treasure hunters. We have the support team for a television production and that implies a source of resupply that does not rely on burros.

Larry King Live! outside Rachel, Nevada. More of the
support staff for the show and the panel of interview
guests. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle

Of course, we now know that there is a road, a crummy road but a road, from Quime into the Sacambaya Valley. Say what you will about the road, they did manage to get an 18-wheeler over that road, carrying an excavator on its trailer. It might not have been easy, but they did it. And, importantly, the big truck was led by an SUV, which could have made the drive without any real problems. By itself, the SUV might have been able to make the trip in less than an hour.

Which brings us back to the latest episode. They begin their assault on the tunnel they relocated with their ground penetrating radar, but the heavy excavator, using a jackhammer tip, created such vibrations that rocks began tumbling from high above them. Realizing that this could be a problem, they decided to blow off the dangerous sections of the rock formations, attempting to direct the blast so that the rocks fell on the other side of the ridge. While I have no problems with that, this is just another example of all the materiel they brought with them… and remember the makeshift explosives that they had to create in an earlier episode. Why didn’t they use these real explosives then? And, if they didn’t have them then, where did they come from now?

They do break through into the tunnel. They find an old ore cart, something that would have been used in the mining operation. It is, of course, in lousy shape, but it is an interesting artifact. Near it, they find a bit of ornate cloth, that had been interwoven with gold. It is an interesting scrap but only proves that the Jesuits had been there at one time. We already knew that.

Outside, one of the team is worried about the weight of the heavy equipment crushing the tunnel, so he orders it moved back, away from the new entrance they made. While the excavator starts right up, the backhoe doesn’t. The battery is nearly dead. But never to worry, one of the team tells them they’ll just have to slow roast it.

Yup. That’s what he said. So, while the others take the battery out, he builds a fire. He tells us that heat will stimulate the molecules in the battery and that might be enough to get the backhoe’s engine to crank. Sure, it’s dangerous, and rather than stand back, out of the way in case the battery explodes, he stands right next to it as if he has to turn it on a spit, like, well, a roast.

The plan works without a catastrophic explosion. They replace the battery, while being urged to hurry, while it’s still warm… as if it’s going to cool off in that topical environment. Of course, the plan works, because, well, this is Treasure Quest.

Meanwhile, back in the tunnel, the rest of the team continues their search for treasure. No, they don’t fine it but do, eventually, find a skeleton with a massive wound in the skull. The blow could have been the result of any of a number of things, including trauma sustained long after death. Interestingly, they wrap the bones in a shroud and do bury it outside the tunnel showing respect for those who had been there before them. They mark the grave with a cross… and I’ll let it go at that.

Finished with the big finds, for a moment, we are now shown the tents they have been staying in at night, or so we’re led to believe. To the horror of the team, a Bolivian Brown Scorpion has invaded one tent so we have the drama of the others trying to capture the scorpion before it stings the victim. They catch it in a boot and one man puts his hand over the top to keep the scorpion from getting out. I’m thinking that is a good way to get stung, but then, they were messing around with that snake found in their camp in an earlier episode. Nothing like a little brush with danger to keep the drama high.

I did learn that the deadliest scorpion in South America is the Brazilian Yellow. Although it is claimed it rarely delivers a fatal dose, Brazilian health officials suggest one person killed every other day. The Bolivian Brown made no list I could find as the most dangerous, but then any scorpion sting can have major consequences. But I digress.

And they find a coin, or what looked like a coin. They have been teasing us with this find for weeks. We’ve seen it a dozen times, but now we learn it really isn’t a coin, but some sort of lead marker or bale seal for what would have bundles or boxes of real treasure, or so we’re told. It tells the recipient that the package had not been opened somewhere along the journey.  

Since the number on it is 136 (I think, it was one hundred thirty something) that suggests a large number of these bundles, packages, boxes having been created. While they tell us that this proves there is a treasure somewhere around, it doesn’t mean any such thing. The bale seal could have been on any number of different things shipped out of there or even into there depending on the circumstances. Regardless of what they say, it doesn’t mean that the treasure is still hidden nearby, only that gold and/or silver may had been collected there at one time or another. Or maybe I should say something had been collected there for shipment at one time.

We’ve reached the end of the story for the moment. They have found, a bit of ornate cloth interwoven with gold, an old mining cart, a skeleton, a Bolivian Brown Scorpion, and a bale seal. As with all these other treasure hunting shows, we’re seeing a lot of the debris of human habitation, but we’re seeing nothing to tell us that there is two BILLION dollars worth of gold around the Sacambaya Valley. We only know that Jesuits were there a couple of hundred years ago, that they did mine the area, and that they are long gone. Interesting, from an anthropological point of view, but nothing that tells us that there is any treasure hidden around there.


Unknown said...

So is there any update on what the team found?

Emilie varley littleford said...

I would like to know when the Sacumbaya treasure hunters are coming back to show them removing the bars of solid gold they discovered on the camera and bigger screen. This has been a real bummer for many who watched religiously. I believe they extracted all the treasures and are going to show the remainder after that has been completed. Because Bolivia just might decide the treasures are going nowhere. Especially after they thought this to be only a myth.