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In search of Eldorado


In search of Eldorado
The natives hundreds converged on the coast deep black lake, lying at an altitude of 2700 meters above sea level, in the crater of an extinct volcano. Soon the ceremony, and the Indians fell silent, watching the priests removed from the clothes of the ruler, his naked body coated with clay and showered with golden sand. A few minutes later the governor, according to the Spanish chronicler, turned to El Dorado, the Golden man, and it was brought to the balsa raft, which already waited four chief. Loaded offerings in the form of gold jewelry and emeralds, the raft slowly slid to the middle of the lake.

Shook the surrounding mountains, music and singing subsided. Chiefs lowered offerings in the lake water, and follow with a raft jumped ruler. When he appeared on the surface of the golden cocoon was gone. Again came the music from the slopes of the mountains.

Juan Rodriguez - Spanish, so vividly described the scene, it was not an eyewitness. In 1636, when he created his work, rite Golden Man has moved to the past, and it is unknown whether he was sent to do someday. Over a hundred years before the events described by Spanish conquistadors in search of the legendary treasure of Indian intruded on the hill of modern Colombia, but any significant treasure ever found. But with great success we eradicated the indigenous culture of the Chibcha people.

The relative ease with which Hernán Cortés conquered in 1521 the Aztec empire in Mexico and Francisco Pizarro, 12 years later, put on his knees Inca, initiated aggressive and predatory appetites of other Europeans. In 1536, about nine hundred white adventurers, accompanied by a large number of native porters were from the settlement Saiga Marta in the north-east coast of Colombia. The expedition wanted to go upstream of the Magdalena River to get to its origins, to find a new path through the Andes in Peru and, if lucky, the indigenous open another empire, which could be subjected to devastation and plunder. The leader of this campaign was the stern and pious assistant governor of the province, thirty-six of Granada lawyer Gonzalo Himenesde Kvesada

Eleven months of his people were suffering enormous deprivation wielded a machete to hack his way through the impenetrable thicket, crossed the marshes, wandered up to his waist in the water area, teeming with poisonous snakes, alligators and jaguars. Invisible natives showered them from ambushes rain of poisoned arrows. Grief-hungry invaders, suffering from fever and died like flies, and the survivors fed on frogs and lizards. Finally, Jimenez de Kvesada decided to turn back, but then he was half alive the host of the number of at least two hundred people to get out on the plateau of Cundinamarca. Before the stunned intruders were groomed corn and potato fields and neat hut rich, apparently villages. Donoso carillon shaken by the wind thin gold plates hanging above the doors Europeans, by their own admission, had never heard such sweet music. After a long ordeal, they finally reached the country Chibcha Indians.

Afraid of strangers, and especially their horses, many of the natives prefer to avoid familiarity with strangers, and left their settlements. But others welcomed the Europeans as the gods came down from the sky, offered food, women and, more importantly, such a coveted gold. Pelf not considered Chibcha have some special value they exchanged it from neighboring tribes in emeralds and salt, which in these parts was enough. On the value of gold is not the natives had no idea, but appreciated his brilliance and melting behavior, allows local craftsmen to make fine jewelry, utensils and ritual objects.

Greedy Europeans was not enough friendly gifts, and they began to plunder. Clubs and spears Chibcha could not hold back the invaders, armed with guns belched flame and several months later Jimenez de Kvesada subdued all the local region, losing one soldier.

But the Spaniards did not immediately able to find out where Chibcha get gold was a long time before one old Indian (probably under torture) told them the secret of El Dorado, the Golden man in order to get a huge treasure, we should go to the east, to the mountain strongholds, behind which lurks the lake Guatavita. It was there, said the old man credulous Spaniards, one of the leaders of the annual reports to the gods offerings Indians, lowering the water in the lake of gold and emeralds, and then covered the body of golden sand, dive into the lake itself, we add to your gift to fellow donations.

True? Legend? The trick is, to distract the invaders from plundering their native country? Whatever it was, the story of the old man made a great impression on the Europeans. Eldorado entered the history of the conquest and soon evolved from the Golden Man to El Dorado - the host of the object of desire of gold miners, to the fabulous treasure, which, as usual, lies "beyond the next hill" or "on the other side near the river."

Before you lead your people in search of the Golden Man, Hee - less de Kvesada decided to return to Santa Marta and establish itself as the governor of the conquered uplands, which he had renamed New Granada. But in February 1539 in the mountains came the news of a new expedition of Europeans, approaching from the northeast to the newly founded Jimenez capital of Santa Fe de Bogota.

Newcomers were gang of 160 people headed by a German by the name of Nicholas Federmann, who acted on behalf of the trading house "Welser" from Augsburg. As a sign of gratitude for the financial assistance for the election of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles I King of Spain gave the home "Welser" the province of Venezuela. Looking for more "free" native kingdom Federmann spoke of coastal settlements Coro after a few months after the Jimenez de Kvesada left Santa Marta. Two and a half years I am looking for a German passage through the ridge on the plateau of Cundinamarca. Jimenez met the exhausted, half-dead from hunger and nearly naked strangers warily, but offered them food and clothing, because he hoped to help the new arrivals during the invasion of the land of El Dorado.

While he was puzzled how to make better use of the Germans, came the news of the approach from the southwest another squad, led by Sebastian de Belalcázar, the closest assistant of the conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro.

Belalcázar pursued the remnants of retreating to the north of the Inca troops. Having driven them in Ecuador, where he founded the city of Quito, but on the way, too, had heard about the fabulous riches hidden in the interior of the country. Around the same time, when Jimenez de Kvesada left Santa Marta, Belalcázar from Quito made a long trek northward. He arrived in Santa Fe de Bogota with a group of well-equipped and armed Europeans, many of whom went on fine horses, and with a whole horde of native mercenaries. Belalcázar brought silver tableware and drove 300 pigs, which fell very yearned to taste the meat Europeans arrived on the plateau before. By incredible coincidence, each of the three groups were on 166 persons, and the total number of the hosts to 498 soldiers.

Between the leaders began to argue about the pre-emptive right to the conquest of another native empire. Unable to reach an agreement, all three went to Spain to present their claims to the king. Meanwhile, the trading house "Welser" lost Venezuela seized another Spanish adventurer, and eventually was out of Fe-Derman died in poverty. Belalcázar was granted the post of the head of one of the cities founded by them on the way to Santa Fe de Bogota, but also his star waned, and he ended badly. Jimenez de Kvesada never received as governor and had to be content with the honorary rank of Marshal of New Granada. He lived to be 80 years and never once parted with a dream to find the Golden Man. But its glory days were in the past.

While three of the disputants exchanged claims in the presence of the King of Spain, continued the search for El Dorado. The first who attempted to get to the bottom of the lake Guatavite alleged treasures lying there, was Hernan Perez de Kvesada, brother of the conqueror of New Granada. In the dry season in 1540, he ordered his men to make buckets of pumpkins and scoop all the water from the lake. Within three months of painstaking work he indeed managed to lower the water level by about three and a half meters and pull into the light more than three thousand small gold items, but to get to the middle of the lake, where allegedly laid the lion's share of the treasure, the Spaniards have not been able.

Forty years later, it was made even more bold attempt to drain the lake. Wealthy merchant from Bogota hired several thousand natives to dig through the vent in the interior of one of the hills. When the work was done, the water level has dropped by 20 meters. In exposing the area of ​​the bottom was found an emerald the size of a yaitso and many gold trinkets, but this recovery was not enough for the costs. Another treasure seeker tried, too, but was forced to abandon this idea, when his workers were killed.

The last attempt to drain the lake was made in 1912, when the British treasure hunters brought in its huge bank of pumps They were able to pump out most of the water, but the soft mud on the bottom immediately sucked anyone who dared to descend into the valley. The next day the bottom mud dried up and became hard as concrete. Expenses for the company 160 thousand dollars, the British learned from the lake of gold jewelry in the amount of 10 thousand But in 1965, the Colombian government announced Guatavita lake national historic reserve and put an end to all attempts to get to the bottom of it.

In 1541, five years after the start of the campaign Belalcázar, Hong fat Pizarro, brother of the conqueror of Peru, also left Quito and set off in search of El Dorado, the rich, according to rumors, not only gold, but also very expensive in those days cinnamon. Soon Pizarro joined soldier of fortune named Francisco de Orellana. But as soon as the expedition overcame the Andes and went to the east, in the jungle, the satellites separated. Pizarro finally returned to Quito, Orellana and walked along the wide calm river and reached the Atlantic coast. Along the way, he came across a native tribe, a woman who owned a bow and arrow is much better than men. Recalling the ancient Greek legend of the warrior Orellana called the Amazon River.

In the wake of Pizarro and Orellana went to other Spanish adventurers, who have expanded the Golden human search area to the mouth of the Amazon and Orinoco. One of the most persistent seeker was Antonio de Berrio, Governor interfluve. Like his predecessors, he was convinced that the object of the search is at the bottom of one of the alpine lakes, but much east in the mountains of Guiana, where the Incas retreated vanquished and where they founded the legendary city of Manoa, the streets of which is rumored to have been paved with gold.

For 11 years, from 1584 for 1595, Berrio thrice led the expedition to Guiana. During the third campaign he reached the island of Trinidad, where he met Sir Walter Raleigh, who was trying to regain its lost glory colonizer. Englishman podpoit Berrio, wormed his secret Eldorado and subjected the Spaniard temporary imprisonment, returned to his homeland, where he wrote an enthusiastic report on the El Dorado as he called the kingdom of the Golden Man. Reilly believed Berrio on the floor and passionately argued that Eldorado is far richer than Peru. The book is not Reilly opened a special interest in Manoa, but his own attempt to find Eldorado failed.

More than four hundred years of history of the Golden man (probably force to find out from an old native who is ready to say anything to rid the Europeans away) fired the imagination of the gold miners. None of them, of course, did not find a lake with a gold mine or the city with the golden bridge. All they discovered gold existed only in the form of bizarre ornaments and decorations, do not meet European standards of good taste is why most of the products are simply melted, and ingots were sent home The little that is preserved in its original form, is now kept in museums

No matter how much Europeans are snooping around in the mountains, jungles and savannas of South America, but were never able to quench their insatiable greed. Fortunately, in the course of the search they almost accidentally made detailed maps of most of the continent. The thirst for gold helped them to endure terrible hardships in a foreign land, to adapt to harsh weather conditions, to survive among far from friendly-minded natives, who had the misfortune turned out to holders of so highly valued by Europeans of the yellow metal. The Indians could not grasp why the aliens are so eager to get these brilliant gadgets designed for ornaments of houses and temples. From the cold, they do not save, do not satisfy hunger, pleasure does not deliver. It plunged the Indians into complete confusion. But Europeans. They already know what a market economy, and therefore so readily believed in the Golden Man, if that was all, then vanished long before they started looking for him.

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