JUNE – JULY 2006www.nexusmagazine.comNEXUS • 59
for Armstrong it would have been! But it's a two-edge swordbecause, had it not been for Moricz, the story would never havecome about like this. And today, Hall's biggest desire—if he wereable to turn back time—is to sit down at one table with bothMoricz and Jaramillo. At the same time, he realises that Moriczhad been intent from the beginning that the Metal Library wouldbe his legacy. When Hall showed Moricz a manuscript about the1976 expedition, Moricz point-blank refused to return it. It endedtheir friendship, but Hall never understood why until 1991, whenhe realised that the manuscript mentioned Jaramillo. It was aname Moricz did not want to see published—as he had confirmedin the 1973 German newspaper interview. Moricz was incrediblystubborn and, equally, incredibly loyal, but obviously was thewrong man and was sadly mistaken if he thought he could everpull off the discovery of the century.
Jaramillo and Hall becamefriends, though both agreedJaramillo would notprematurely reveal the locationof the site. Still, he was willingto talk in detail about itscontents and any other aspectHall wanted to discuss.From Jaramillo, Hall wasable to learn the true story of the Tayos library—which wasnot in the Cueva de los Tayos atall! Jaramillo stated that he hadentered the library in 1946,when he was 17 years old. Hewas shown it by an uncle,whose name has goneunrecorded but who was knownas "Blanquito Pelado" (a lovingdescription of the man'sappearance). He wasapparently on friendly termswith the local Shuar population,who invited him to see a secretin gratitude for the kindness andgoodness he had shown towards the tribe.Jaramillo entered the system at least once after that. On thatoccasion, he saw a library consisting of thousands of large, metalbooks stacked on shelves, each with an average weight of about20 kilograms, each page impressed from one side withideographs, geometric designs and written inscriptions. Therewas a second library, consisting of small, hard, smooth,translucent—what seemed to be crystal—tablets, grooved withparallel encrusted channels, stacked on sloping shelves of trestledunits covered in gold leaf. There were zoomorphic and humanstatues (some on heavy column plinths), metal bars of differentshapes, as well as sealed "doors"—possibly tombs—covered inmixtures of coloured, semi-precious stones. There was a largesarcophagus, sculpted from hard, translucent material, containingthe gold-leafed skeleton of a large human being. In short, anincredible treasure, stored away as if hidden in preparation forsome upcoming disaster.On one occasion, Jaramillo took down seven books from theshelves to study them, but their weight prevented him fromreplacing them. It also meant that they were too heavy to removefrom the library and reveal to the world. Jaramillo neverproduced any physical evidence for his claims, which may explainwhy he wanted to live in the shadows of this story.Hall did ask him why he never took photographs. "He said thatit would not prove anything." Other discoveries, such as theinfamous Burrows Cave in the United States, prove that seeingactually isn't believing. Still, Jaramillo stated that he had left hisinitials in these seven books so that, if the library were everdiscovered, it could be proved that it was he who had entered it.
Expedition plans and setbacks
Jaramillo and Hall wanted to combine forces to see whether theMetal Library could be opened; one knew the location, the otherhad a proven track record in organising proper expeditions. Itwould be the "expedition of occupation".First, contact with various ambassadors and politicians wasestablished; then the scientificcommunity was brought in.The plan was for Jaramillo tolead the team to the site, wherethey would remain for a periodof three to four months (duringthe dry season), cataloguing thecontents of the site andguaranteeing that nothing wentmissing. Everything wouldremain
. A report withrecommendations would be theonly outcome of thisexpedition, which wouldinvolve UNESCO. But in1995, Peruvian jets bombed anEcuadorian military base andthe project had its first setback.In 1997, Hall used a majoranthropology conference topromote the idea. Sixanthropologists came to meethim, interested in what he wastrying to accomplish. But thatsame year, Ecuador's politicalregime changed (in Hall'sopinion, for the worse); Hallfelt that his family could not live in the new political reality, so hemoved back to Scotland with them. (Shortly afterwards, our pathswould cross anonymously). This was nevertheless not a setback;planning for the expedition continued.However, it was in 1998 that the expedition had a
m a j o r
setback. Hall received by telephone the sad news from the motherof Petronio Jaramillo that he had been assassinated. Was hemurdered because of the plans that were afoot? Life in SouthAmerica is cheap, as anyone who has visited or lived there knows.That day, Jaramillo was carrying a large amount of money onhim. It was a street robbery, close to his home. Random violencestopped one of the world's biggest discoveries dead in its tracks.It seems that fate only allowed for Jaramillo and Hall to meet,but never to work together—as if their combined efforts wouldbreak the spell of the cave and turn a dream into a reality.
Location, location, location
Moricz and Jaramillo had both died. Hall was in his sixties.Would he go it alone and claim the Metal Library for himself?Hall isn't a treasure-seeker. He emphasises that the region is a—if not
t h e
—veritable El Dorado. There is gold everywhere; the
Juan Moricz and Stan Hall, photographed in 1975 duringpreparations for the 1976 expedition that would have astronautNeil Armstrong as honorary president. (Photo © Stan Hall)