The White City-Chapter One

The dig for the Mitchell Hedges treasure near Roatan Island

By Daryl Friesen

After my first trip to Roatan, Honduras, I wanted to return as quickly as possible to try to search for the missing Mitchell Hedges'chest.Who did I know had the courage to go to a third world country and search for pirate treasure? After all, we all had jobs, responsibilities and other things that keeps dreams from coming true.Who could step out of their life and gamble some money and time on the quest for buried treasure? The answer was simple.I had to convince my old treasure-hunting partner from the past, Shawn Gryba. Our first adventure had spawned enough excitement that the two us were willing to try our hands at a second adventure. It was to find the Mitchell Hedges chest that Anna Sammy Hedges told me was still there. When I called her on a spring afternoon in 1996, she revealed to me the location of an old pirate chest that her father had left behind in a 1930s archaeological expedition to Roatan. Her father Mitchell Hedges was one of the first to investigate some of the Pech or Paya archeaological sites

that can be found on the Island.. (See part Roatan Part One for further details) Before Shawn and I even left the ground back in British Columbia to go on this trip, we had the feeling that if nothing of value is discovered, it would probably be the last adventure we would ever take together .The world of responsibilities was closing in on both of us even faster than when we tried to find gold in Spindle Canyon back in the early days.If we failed this time, then it was all over. The days of treasure hunting would be put behind us. There was a great deal riding on this expedition. We arrived on Roatan Island and quickly made our way to the West End where we spent our first night in Honduras. It was strange to be back and it felt really good. I was excited about the adventure to come. Shawn and I discussed the up and coming search for lost treasure that evening. "How do you know its there Friesen?" You are not telling me a fish tail about this Anna Jennings thing are you Friesen Shawn asked."No, it's true man! "I told you she told me the name of the key on the phone and as far as she knows, no one has gone back for the last chest. I explained once again trying to reassure him. "But you of all people should no its not all guarntees in the world of treasure hunting. What was it that Howard Jennings said If you want security you should not go into treasure hunting.""So what more can you tell me about this David guy anyway?Do you really think he can help us?Shawn asked. David operates a resort called the Reef House in Oakridge on the east side of Roatan., Honduras.He will help us.David is a treasure hunter at heart. Will you just trust me already!I explained.besides, we can rent a small boat in Oakridge that can take us out to the key if he has better things to do."

The Anna Hedges Interview

"We'll talk about it in the morning I have to get some sleep, the jet lag is killing me" .So with that I laid down on my bed and tried to sleep. I was then thrust into the strange realm of dream. As my unconscious took over my mind, I was back in my Langley,British Columbia, and I saw my father He was fishing on the Fraser River and he was fighting a great salmon. I could see myself walking beside him as a child.He seemed to be the master of life, a god who had all the answers and could ever die. Then out of nowhere came a great big blast like a nuclear explosion, which seemed to destroy the great scene and I found myself upright and conscious sitting in a hotel room bed screaming at the top of my lungs .I didn't know it then but my father had just had a heart attack around the same time I had the dream. Suddenly the whole building started to shake, the windows rattled and the lamp fell from the night stand with a crash as the light bulb shattered on to the floor.It all happened very quickly, Shawn and I were both in shock.The shaking quickly brought me back into reality.What the hell's going on?What was that? Shawn said, sounding shocked. "Maybe it;s the curse of Henry Morgan." I grinned. "Felt more like an earthquake to me." Shawn said with a bit of shock in his voice. The next day as we made our way out of the hotel and towards Oakridge in the cab of a crazy Honduran who drove a hundred miles an hour down the windy roads of Roatan. He was driving faster then all the other cars on the road and as he passed by the other cars in a cloud of dust

he cursed at how slow all the other drivers on the road were. and all he talked about in broken English was how the earthquake scared the hell out of him last night and how that was nothing compared to the one he was in back in Nicaragua back in the 1980s.This trip was already starting out with that special brand of chaos, which is the lifeblood of adventure. When we finally arrived a the Reef House, David was there and greeted us with a loud," Well look who is back in town!It's the hosers!" When I first met him, I knew that deep down inside he was a treasure hunter at heart. He lived on Roatan most of his life and he knew that there was treasure out there somewhere just waiting to be found.

David had never searched for it because he was always too busy running the Reef House. When you first meet him, he is so in your face that its kind of a shock.He has no problem speaking his mind or trying to pack as much vulgar language into a single sentence as possible. David does not care what anyone thinks of him, He also knows everyone and everything about the island of Roatan, so you couldn't ask for a better guide. .The warm water was splashing up onto my face as we cruised into the old Port Royal in search of treasure. The thoughts I had inside as we got closer to the small key were of Mitchell Hedges daughter telling me about the treasure that was still buried there.It was one of complete wonder that finally my childhood dream is about to come true. As the salt water dripped down my face and into my mouth, the taste brought back such a wonderful feeling of adventure that I wanted the moment to last forever before we touched down on the beach of the small beach which was Careening cay. As Mitchell Hedges himself used to call it Cay Comfort. That is before they discovered the treasure on it. Was not much comfort on it in the modern age. The key was littered with garbage. There were pop cans, metal wire, a beat up fridge, old buckets and buoys.You name it and it was there, washed up on the key.The first thing that came into my mind was that metal detecting was going to be very difficult.I didn't want to share that information with the other two treasure hunters who had come on this adventure.Their morale about this whole idea of searching for treasure was already low enough. David was the first to let out his cynicism at the reality of what we were trying to do.

We pull up to Cay Comfort

"Man! We are not going to find a dam thing!" he said as he looked around the key. "Don't worry, this metal detector has discrimination". I said with fear in my voice as I really wanted to find something I quickly started scanning the beach of the key as soon as we got to shore. I searched for several minutes with no hits. As I moved closer to shore we got our first strong hit, but as Shawn started digging we hit the remains of a rotted old tin can.I saw in his eyes that he was looking doubtful.I searched for almost a half an hour and found nothing, but more junk.I threw the metal detector down in frustration.Shawn walked over and picked it up and started searching.He dug one hole and found nothing, then he dug a second and found nothing.Slowly he made his way down to beach where we had landed the boat. The metal detector let out one more of its irritating screeches and Shawn started digging and within moments he pulled a very old rusted piece of chain out of the sand.At first I thought nothing of it as he held the chain in his hands.It looked like another piece of rusted metal, and then it hit me. I remember in the Mitchell Hedges story that when he found the first two chests they were wrapped in chains.

He had to cut the chains to open the chest just before loading the chests onto his boat. We landed near the area where Hedges was because it was the only open in the mangrove to enter the quay.The metal chain had to have been once wrapped around an old pirate chest. I quickly shared my news with my partners and everyone's spirit seemed to go up a little.

If the theory is true, here is a piece in our hands that was a link to the treasure! It brought the hopes of a successful conclusion to our quest closer to reality. I have always found treasure hunting to be a struggle with reality because for me it has always had a parallel with religion. f you don't believe in the treasure, then it will not exist for you. You will never search and never experience the divine as you pull ancient gold out from underneath the sand. For gold is the god that we all search for, even the church has a collection box. We continued our search for another hour or so when David started staring at the black clouds that were forming in the sky overhead. "Ah man, there is going be a storm man. , we have to head back, so hurry up and find the dam treasure. Hey! You forgot to check the fridge he said running over and checking inside the old fridge that was resting on the East Side of the cay.I tried to ignore David 's rant, but Shawn was laughing hysterically. As I swung the metal detector back and forth across the sandy key I could feel any hope of finding a treasure chest filled with gold doubloons slowly slipping away. The detector then made one louder screech that sounded different than all the other screeches it had made that day. This one sounded more successful, so I started digging when out of the sand I pulled a small silver statue of a carving of a naked woman. This sent a shiver up my spine. Come and have a look at this one boys! I yelled. Shawn and David came running over to where I was digging. They glared over my shoulders at the curious object I had unearthed which I had come to the conclusion was the handle of a dagger belonging to a pirate. Shawn and David looked at the object in question and quickly agreed that, yes indeed I had found an object, which once belonged to a pirate.

The Pirate Dagger and Chain

The treasure must be close, so we all assumed searching the key. Within five minutes the detector rang off again and this time we all started digging and almost at once we started finding large pieces of broken metal. We cleared away several pieces of the metal and came across what looked like the top of a treasure chest buried in the sand. My heart was in my throat and my palms where sweating as the three of us tried to pull it out from the sand. We dug around it in a moment of excitement that I will never forget.No one said anything because none of us ccould really believe what we were seeing as we tore the chest out. Shawn smashed at the lid with the shovel, which broke into pieces of shattered metal. We all looked inside and it was completely filled with muddy water. I reached inside the chest expecting to pull gold and jewels from the muddy water. For a second I felt something, but when I pulled my hands out of the water and there was nothing but mud. "There has to be something inside!" Shawn said reaching into the chest. When he pulled his hands out he also found nothing but mud. my mind came to terms with the reality of the situation, I could feel my heart rip open and the hope of finding the Mitchell Hedges chest slip into thin air. We had found the chest all right, but it was empty. How typical, I thought, as images from other failed expeditions raced through my mind. I came all the way to Honduras and found nothing but mud. What will the people at home think when they hear this one? I told you where dreaming would probably be the answer. Best to keep your head out of the clouds and stick to the meat and potatoes is how my father would so eloquently put it. As the three of us sat on the key with wallowing in our defeat. You could see the clouds rolling in and the ocean starting to get rough. "We better get out of here!", David said, as a loud crash of thunder echoed across the quay .We all quickly piled into the boat and started making our way across the ocean. The boat bounced across the waves and I could taste the salt in my mouth Rain started pouring down on us and within seconds we where soaked to the bone.

It was great feeling though, a feeling of being on an adventure and of being free. Searching for treasure has a way of thrusting you back into a different age and that feeling which is so hard to come by makes this defeat a victory itself. That night Shawn and I sat in front of the Reef House drinking Port Royal beer and watched the lightning storms off in the distance.David stared off with a look of fright in his eyes, watching the lightning flashing down into the bay of Honduras. lightning man! he said, sounding scared it almost killed me once. "I was living in Tegucigalpa at the time and there was this huge lightning storm and one of those bolts hit my house and burned it to the ground man.I came home that night and my house was in ashes.It burnt right to the ground".He then turned and walked back into the Reef House.Shawn and I didn"t know how to react other than to almost roll off our chairs in drunken laughter. But we were very na´ve gringos who has no understanding of the extreme weather that many in this part of the world get to experience. Later that night as we got drunker and drunker on Port Royal beer, which is very good stuff, if I do say so myself.

David returned with a friend of his named Terry who had heard about our treasure hunting fiasco that day and was interested in what we were hoping to find on the island. He pulled up a chair beside us cracked open a Port Royal for himself and we began a serious discussion of treasure, which lasted deep into the Honduras night. "I heard you where out on Cay Comfort today man." he said." Yes we were." Shawn answered." You were on the right track my friends, let me tell you!" he said. " Why do you say that? "Shawn asked. "Last summer a strange ship entered Port Royal and took up anchor near Key Comfort where you were searching today." Everyday when I would make my trip to Helena, I would watch em.I would see them unloaded a bunch of gear on the key where you fellows were on. One of the locals, a fisherman from Helena was out there and he told me he watched them pull a heavy chest from the ground and load it onto their boat." Terry replied. I couldn't believe what he was telling us. I could feel my heart sink.

He continued to tell us more, "When I went out there the following day to do some snooping around the boat had gone, so I went to the key myself and those fellows forgot to fill in their hole, man. Those fellows had taken a treasure out of the ground I can assure you that. It looks like you two were to late. "So close! We were so close! Do you realize the last time I was here with Rob in 95, I sailed by that quay and the treasure was there "I said.I took another swig of my Port Royal, but I was really craving something stronger. I am not lying to ya man. It is the truth I am telling ya. Too bad you didn't dig in 95 man. You would have been rich!" Terry rubbed the salt in the wound even more. Shawn and I got lost in a sense defeat and began to drink more and more alcohol.

We traded in the Port Royal beer and moved to Henry Morgan rum. I thought about the great pirate himself as I drank his brand of poison. He would have laughed at us today because his quest did not fail. When he sacked Panama and robbed the Spanish Empire of their riches and sailed off across the blue waters of the Caribbean, he must have felt like he had become a king. A feeling most of us, including myself will probably never feel because most of my attempts to seize the throne end in defeat. But do they really the searches themselves would become treasure in the realm of experience as this search faded into the past. Terry watched us drink like we were punishing ourselves. Just because you are not rich today does not mean you may not get rich tomorrow man.Terry said And why do you say that? I asked, trying not to slur my speech. "Because this island still have loads of treasures. I know all about that, I guarantees you". Terry said, trying to reassure us."That's great, but do you realize leads like the Mitchell Hedges treasure do not fall into your lap each day." I explained. "I can see into that man, but let it go.I know where you can find more treasures. Said Terry.And what would that be? I slurred."In the ocean man! Shipwrecks all over this country! "Terry said with enthusiasm. I will show you one.

Want to search for Treasure on Roatan

The White City-Chapter Two

The Search for the Treasure of Roatan

Explorations on Roatan and in Central America

Fraser River Placer Claim near Spuzzum

Bridge River Placer Claim

Seekers of Gold

The Gold of the Sun

The Treasure Map Collection