Study Guide

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon Chapter 23

By David Grann

Chapter 23

The Colonel's Bones

  • The chief of the Kalapalos agrees to meet David Grann. Do they want more bones for their collection?
  • Vajuvi, the chief, demands five thousand dollars from Grann before he'll talk.
  • Grann doesn't have that kind of dough, so they bargain down to a few hundred dollars' worth of supplies. (About 400 sticks of beef jerky, perhaps.)
  • The men take a truck deep into the jungle to the Kalapalo village.
  • One of the villagers tells Grann that "white people are building something in Afasukugu" (23.31).
  • That is a sacred area of the jaguar, and the Kalapalos are upset that the white men are building a hydroelectric dam there.
  • Grann worries that while he's looking for an explorer who disappeared decades ago, a whole tribe might disappear.
  • The next day, Vajuvi takes Grann fishing for piranhas. Not what Grann had in mind when he wanted a bite to eat, we imagine.
  • While waiting for the fish to nibble, Vajuvi tells Grann the truth: they never had Fawcett's bones.
  • A Brazilian explorer was looking for Fawcett's whereabouts, and he promised rifles to the tribe who could produce evidence.
  • The Kalapalos gave the explorer the bones of Vajuvi's grandfather, who was a very tall man.
  • Now Vajuvi wants the bones back.
  • However, Vajuvi says Fawcett was there many years ago.
  • The tribe warned him not to continue farther into the jungle, where tribes are hostile, but Fawcett persisted.
  • After five days, the tribe could no longer see his campfire smoke.
  • Vajuvi insists that the Kalapalos tried to save Fawcett. Grann believes him, even though this guy is about as trustworthy as Pinocchio with a foot-long nose.