Paul Rosolie may be the real life Indiana Jones. He may be what some refer to as a “tree hugger.” Others may see the man as an incredibly passionate youngster. Reading through his brilliant book Mother of God there can be no denying this; his adventures and journeys through the Amazon (and India) are an embodiment of many young boys’ dreams.
Struggling to get by in the conventional system of schooling, Rosolie often escaped into nature and found solitude in the wilder side of things, stating that he was “deeply fascinated, illuminated, by the world I saw around me.” When high school came, so did more problems. Eventually the youngster chose to leave high school and enrol in college. In doing so he fulfilled the adventurer dreams most young people can only hope to see on television or inside a nature book.
This was the start of Rosolie’s journey through the Amazon rainforest. Linking up with Emma, a British biologist and her Peruvian partner JJ, he began studying and observing the many species of life inside the largest jungle. While many people would run for cover if they saw a bird eating tarantula or a piranha, to the young man it was all part of the journey. After all this is how human beings in South America lived for thousands of years. Jennie Erin Smith of the Wall Street Journal says “Mr. Rosolie delivers an old-fashioned jungle adventure, one with rare immediacy and depth of feeling for the people and creatures he encounters.”
A particularly heart-warming moment of the book is when Lulu the anteater and the young explorer become friends. Anteaters are capable of disemboweling a human if threatened, and I was really touched by the friendly nature that many animals possess. Anacondas, too, are regularly mentioned. He encounters some monstrous ones. However, contrary to what most may think, anacondas are quite docile creatures. The devotion that this man has for animals’ survival takes him to India, also, where he hopes to come into close contact with wild tigers. It is also in India where he meets his future spouse.
The book’s title Mother of God refers to the region in which most of the Amazon trips take place. As readers journey further with Rosolie with each passing page, the more determined he becomes to retreat into some of the most remote, untouched parts of the area. Sadly large parts of this beautiful forest are being destroyed by manmade intervention; deforestation, oil exploration and highways.
A strong part of me resonated with Rosolie on this. It is never nice seeing large forests or sprawling deserts dug up and butchered in the name of “progress.” When I travelled down the Orange River for five days there was nothing more enjoyable than rafting with the current and seeing “God’s Thumbprint” or “The Great Sandy Mountain” appear, completely untouched by man. It served as a timely reminder of just how lucky humanity is to still have places like this to go to.
Mother of God is a fantastic read. Paul Rosolie is a masterful storyteller. If you can think back to those days as a kid you dreamed of having the most amazing journey through the bush, jungle or forest then it is a foretaste into what you will find in this well written book.