Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon

Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0062259520

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For fans of The Lost City of Z, Walking the Amazon, and Turn Right at Machu Picchu comes naturalist and explorer Paul Rosolie’s extraordinary adventure in the uncharted tributaries of the Western Amazon—a tale of discovery that vividly captures the awe, beauty, and isolation of this endangered land and presents an impassioned call to save it.

In the Madre de Dios—Mother of God—region of Peru, where the Amazon River begins its massive flow, the Andean Mountain cloud forests fall into lowland Amazon Rainforest, creating the most biodiversity-rich place on the planet. In January 2006, when he was just a restless eighteen-year-old hungry for adventure, Paul Rosolie embarked on a journey to the west Amazon that would transform his life.

Venturing alone into some of the most inaccessible reaches of the jungle, he encountered giant snakes, floating forests, isolated tribes untouched by outsiders, prowling jaguars, orphaned baby anteaters, poachers in the black market trade in endangered species, and much more. Yet today, the primordial forests of the Madre de Dios are in danger from developers, oil giants, and gold miners eager to exploit its natural resources.

In Mother of God, this explorer and conservationist relives his amazing odyssey exploring the heart of this wildest place on earth. When he began delving deeper in his search for the secret Eden, spending extended periods in isolated solitude, he found things he never imagined could exist. “Alone and miniscule against a titanic landscape I have seen the depths of the Amazon, the guts of the jungle where no men go, Rosolie writes. “But as the legendary explorer Percy Fawcett warned, ‘the few remaining unknown places of the world exact a price for their secrets.’”

Illustrated with 16 pages of color photos.

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When you grow up in a place like New York, the heart of so-called civilization, the Amazon is burned into your mind as a place where some way or another, you are going to die. I tried not to think of what could be under that brown water, and the hundreds of crocs I had just seen, or piranha, the penis-eating fish, stingrays, electric eels, or the even worse things I didn’t know about. But when I plunged in there was nothing. The river bottom was sandy and without seaweed or leaves, only smooth,

uninterrupted sand. The water was cool and refreshing. It was my first lesson in Amazonian Mythbusting 101. We closed in together, me in front, JJ following. But before we could get within arm’s reach of the snake it bolted with impressive speed. “Oh dear!” JJ said in a half-British, half-Spanish accent, and laughed. “I am a little glad he went. I was poco scared!” Then JJ bent down and took a big gulp from the river. “You can drink that?” I asked. “Oh, sí!” JJ said enthusiastically, and

trees around us could have turned the small boat to splinters if we got pinched. It took the tightening of every sinew in the boat driver’s forearms and the gravest furrowing of his brow; waiting, maneuvering, and then waiting some more until a window appeared, he then gunned the engine. The dangerous exit sent us rocketing free once again downriver. Back in Puerto, I made emergency travel arrangements to fly out the following day and spent the night in a hotel room, swathed in Vaseline, never

the fringes of town red lights illuminate young girls waiting for customers. In the mornings bread carts travel up and down the main streets, followed by carts loaded with cages of small quails; their freshly laid eggs are hard-boiled and sold as snacks. The markets are bustling labyrinths constructed from blue tarp and corrugated steel. There the jungle’s bounty enters the economy: gold miners, fishermen, peddlers of every known fruit, and hunters with fresh-killed bush meat converge there.

increase, which in turn had positive impacts on the fish population. Coyote numbers also fell sharply under the rule of wolves, allowing more rodents, rabbits, and small mammal life to flourish—this, combined with the increased fish stocks, benefited raptors like the bald eagle. With wolves culling coyotes, there are more red foxes; with willow trees growing, there is a greater diversity and abundance of songbirds. The reintroduction of wolves snapped a malfunctioning system rapidly back into

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