A mortgage banker from Arizona gives it all up to search for treasure in the jungles of Ecuador.
In the late 1960s, when the buttoned-down banking world ceased to capture his imagination, Lee Elders set out looking for adventure. He ended up leading a prospecting expedition into the jungles of Ecuador. Although that expedition ended with his return to the States without the riches he’d hoped, Elders’ career as a modern day explorer was only just beginning. Back in Arizona, he received a letter from Adriano Vintimilla, his partner and friend who had served as translator on the prospecting trip, which suggested Elders return to pursue a new opportunity. Upon Elders' arrival, Vintimilla described his new insight into a longstanding mystery: the last will and testament of Raphael Bollanos Mejia, a Colombian who worked for a quinine harvesting company, used veiled hints and clues to describe the location of a fabulous trove of emeralds, hidden deep in the jungle. These hints had beguiled treasure hunters for decades, but after comparing Mejia’s clues to an old Army map, Vintimilla thought he had a general idea as to where the emeralds might be. Elders and his friend began a long, dangerous search for his treasure, and, more importantly to Elders, adventure. Elders story is a fascinating one, and he tells it well. His prose is immersive, and he peppers the narrative with details of everyday life in Ecuador, including the lives of the native people who still live in the jungle. Raised on an Apache reservation, Elders treats these people with immense reverence and admiration for their lifestyle and beliefs. He is especially respectful of the spiritual world inhabited by the Shuara, who served as his guides as he moved closer and closer to his goal. Throughout, Elders is careful to highlight the differences between his quest for adventure, and others greedy search only for riches, which often leads them to exploit the land and its people.
A fascinating and well-told tale of adventure.