After reading Douglas Preston's non-fiction account of a modern-day archaeological find deep in a virtually unexplored region of Honduras, I can tell you one UNESCO World Heritage Site that is not high on my "Must Visit" list - The Lost City of the Monkey God (#678)! Although Douglas Preston was a member of the expedition in 2012, writing for National Geographic, which uncovered more than one major abandoned city deep in the jungles of remote Mosquitia, the journey there was arduous, dangerous and rife with controversy and consequences for its members.
Rumors have abounded since the time of the Spanish conquistadors about treasures to be found in the cities of the Indians of Central America, but the rough terrain and impenetrable jungles have guarded their secrets well. Previous expeditions have not fared well. Modern technology played a major role in pinpointing promising sites for these archaeologists.
Despite venomous snakes, insects too numerous to count, jaguars, drug cartels, constant rain and a site too overgrown to venture more than a few feet from each other without losing touch with the group, what they found there was an astonishing cache of items from a culture previously unknown and unstudied. Because of the inaccessibility of the sites, most of their secrets are still unknown and untouched. It will be a race between the scholars wishing to study the sites and the drug traffickers and clear-cutters devastating the areas and looting the sites for the black market trade in antiquities.
And then there are the unwanted souvenirs many members of the expedition brought home - a rare jungle parasitic disease.
It all makes for a fascinating story of real life adventure, professional jealousy standing in the way of knowledge, fraud, fer de lances, and strong advocacy for the National Institutes of Health. If you think Indiana Jones had a difficult time, check out this story; you won't be disappointed.