A Belief that Caused a Lot of Grief
Those who bought into the ridiculous belief that there actually was a city of gold out there somewhere were disappointed. However, seekers who stuck to the original version of the El Dorado story, about tribal chiefs who dropped golden gifts into a lake, had some success. They set out to drain Lake Guatavita, and lowered its level enough to recover hundreds of golden artifacts from around the lake’s edges. However, whatever treasures had been tossed into the deeper waters remained beyond their reach. Other than that partial success, the only results of the search for El Dorado were numerous lives wasted in fruitless treasure hunts.
The more famous jinxed searches included those undertaken by English courtier Sir Walter Raleigh, who conducted two expeditions in Guiana in search of El Dorado. In the second expedition, in 1617, Raleigh was too enfeebled by age to endure the rigors of the search. So he set up a base camp in Trinidad, and sent his son, Watt, up the Orinoco River to find El Dorado. It ended in utter disaster, and in the death of Raleigh’s son in a battle against the Spaniards. Things did not end much better for Raleigh himself. When he returned to England, its king, James I, ordered him beheaded for defying his orders to avoid conflict with the Spanish.