Because he seldom cites specific dates or alludes to what’s happening in the outside world as he’s prowling through the jungle in Peru, Paul Rosolie’s Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon has a breathless, dream-like quality—a tone one might find in the journals of a relentlessly eager and factually retentive Boy Scout.
And that’s as it should be since Rosolie brings a romantic, rather than a scientific, sensibility to his travels—at least initially. At the beginning, he’s out for adventure, pure and simple, not for such pedestrian pursuits as discovering rare ore or cataloging medicinal plants. Early on, though, he’s quick to spot the encroachments of “civilization” on his newfound paradise—poachers, miners, loggers and road builders.
“What is it about our species,” he asks incredulously, “that allows us to watch sitcoms and argue over sports while cultures and creatures and those things meek and green and good are chopped, shot, and burned from the world for a buck?”
An indifferent student, Rosolie was always a lover of the outdoors. He made his first foray into the Amazon in 2006, when he was 18, and instantly felt a part of that exotic environment. This book, his first, chronicles his many journeys into the jungle and his side trips to India, where he meets the woman he’ll marry. Not surprisingly, they bond over their mutual love of snakes.
Rosolie is a gripping storyteller who takes us along as he wrestles giant anacondas, stares closely into the eyes of a wounded jaguar and, on a solitary journey into the deepest reaches of the jungle, encounters what may have been a previously undiscovered tribe (from which he prudently runs away).
Rosolie’s enthusiasm for the wilderness and his ability to convey it poetically makes him an exceedingly persuasive advocate for conserving what’s left of the natural world.