A memoir of an astonishing trip walking “nine million-odd steps" for more than two years along the Amazon River’s course from Peruvian headwaters to Brazilian mouth.
In this book about becoming the first person to perambulate the Amazon’s entire length, Stafford chronicles the countless obstacles he faced, including canoes of armed indigenous peoples, dehydration, sickness, lack of sleep (his insomnia caused “the hopeless despair of seeing the sun rise when I had still not managed to stop my brain racing”) and overwhelming swarms of insects. In addition to the stories of his impressive adventures, the author explores his friendship with the longest lasting of his many walking companions, Gadiel “Cho” Sanchez Rivera. Along the way, Stafford wonders if trying to break a record is "selfish,” and he acknowledges that those with lofty goals occasionally occupy an “insular bubble of blinkered determination.” Not this author, however; faraway events and nightly reading impacted him as much as immediate concerns of hunger. Stafford’s writing is lyrical and mostly engaging, and he offers numerous anecdotes about how to survive in the wild. On the verge of starvation, he and Cho found a tortoise, and the author’s recounting of its preparation is as engrossing as the meat was nourishing. Though boredom threatened Stafford’s appreciation of the unfamiliar, he was always able to recapture the joy of discovery. For him, “everything is relative and, when you’ve been walking for 639 days, a ten-day leg through unknown jungle that no one in the village could remember being walked in living history seemed nothing.”
A gripping celebration of physical and mental endurance.