"About 500 years ago five or six thousand Pech people moved to the Rio Platano
area. We are not sure where they came from. We are told from South America, but we don't
know. They first settled to a place we call Chilmeca, It was located close to Casa
When I asked what Casa Blanca was, Don Divio replied:
"This is where my grand-parents were born. When I was a child, my grandfather told
me he grew up in a city carved in white stones. They called it Casa Blanca."
In Honduras many people talk about a mysterious lost city they call the Ciudad
Blanca. It has become the focus of numerous international expeditions. I asked if
there was any relation to the Casa Blanca of his story.
"Yes, it is the same place. It was made by the gods. Giant stones were carved in
various shapes, wild animals and giant grinding stones".
I asked what happened. "Why did people abandon a city made by the gods? Why can't
we find it today?"
Don Divio replied: "My grandfather told me that at that time among the Pech people
lived a Tawaka Indian man. He left the Ciudad Blanca after being mistreated by the
community and cursed the place. Thereafter, terrible disease and catastrophes happened.
The Pech people understood that they could no longer live there. They had to move."
Their search for a more prosperous place took them downriver to a place they call
"Sakorska Uya," the big written stone. It is the site of a large petroglyph
which can still be visited upriver from Las Marias. They lived there for some time.
Evidence of modern habitation can be seen in a high concentration of fruit trees found in
From Sakorska Uya, the oldest known dwelling for the Pech of the Platano River, they
moved down river and started the settlement of Buena Vista, approximately seventy or
eighty years ago. This is where Don Divio, his sister and the last few other elders of Las
Marias were born. Why the Pech moved from Sakorska Uya is a mystery, maybe simply to find
more food or to be closer to the ocean.
From Buena Vista, they moved a little downriver to a place they call Quiaquimina
(pattas de Guatusa), but returned to Buena Vista after a few years. Finally they moved to
Las Marias thirty or forty years ago.
*Note: time estimates are based on the fact that the elders
telling the stories remember living there as children.
The history of Las Marias only dates back 40 years, and coincides with the period
during which the Pech culture was most affected by outside influences. At that time,
Miskito people inhabited the full coast. After a terrible hurricane, starving Miskito
people paddled up river and stole the food from the Pech. The Pech returned to Buena Vista
for a few years before re-settling permanently in Las Marias. Since, Miskito people,
mainly men, have started to move to Las Marias where the land is much richer than on the
coast. They intermarried with the Pech and today their culture and language prevails in
We listened with much interest to Don Divio and his sister as they recounted us the
history of their people. Listening to them, there was no doubt that the legend of the lost
city was based on historical fact. They remember being told by their grandparents about
it. Sometimes Dona interupted her brother with a disagreement on a detail. The fact that
they disagreed on small details made me think that they agreed on the general truths.
There was a place called the Ciudad Blanca, and their ancestors lived there. Of course
their grand parents may have told them the story they heard themselves from their grand
parents as if they had been the ones living there.
History or legend, the promise of discovery of the Ciudad Blanca has inspired numerous
expeditions. The word is out that it has been unearthed, but I suppose that we will hear
many more stories as we spend more time in La Moskitia.
Passages from various books on the subject:
"Their legends talk about a lost city called Ciudad Blanca, the white city, which
was created with lightning and thunder by the Pech god Wata. Large stones would have been
sculpted into statues representing animals, traditional musical instruments and grinding
The city is believed to be the city of Patatahua, the primitive ancestors of the Pech.
The city was abandoned long ago and future archeological discoveries may reveal the
existence of an undocumented modern civilization."
"The myth of the Ciudad Blanca is known as the Ciudad de los Antiguos or Cerro de
la Palmera. It is called Wahia-Patatahua in Pech (the village of the ancestors, the
village of the primitives)".