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Traveling the Amazon with Paul Rosolie

Traveling the Amazon with Paul Rosolie

Anacondas are incredibly powerful creatures and are vastly misunderstood. Hollywood has made them out to be absolute monsters however, one man is paving the way for the world to truly understand the Anaconda. The man leading the way is the incomparable, Paul Rosolie. This brave man has explored the Amazon and gone places most others wouldn’t dare go. He has literally looked down the throat of an Anaconda and best of all he’s written a book about his experiences.

His new book, Mother of God, recounts his travels through the Amazon and the incredible encounters he has with some of the world’s scariest and most misunderstood creatures. Through Rosolie’s own words you can enter a world, beyond anything you could have ever imagined, right in your own home.

Since this writer is no adventurer she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to dive into the mind of Rosolie and experience, safely, the incredible journeys he experienced and now you can too.


BECCA ROSE: What can you tell our readers about Mother of God?

PAUL ROSOLIE: This journey leads deep beneath the canopy into the guts of the Amazon. There are intimate encounters with some of the biggest and baddest of the jungle: jaguars, anacondas, and giant anteaters. It is a book essentially about the incredible wilderness that is Amazonia, set in the context of a modern day Wild West where loggers, poachers, pimps, gold miners and drug runners prowl the massive backcountry that is a rapidly changing wilderness. It is at its core this book is a journey in search of understanding the humans and nature relationship. It is adventure, mixed with a clarion call to protect the Amazon, for the myriad reasons that humans and nature alike depend on the great system.


BR: What made you decide to write a book?

PR: The decision to begin writing a book came from two different sources. One was the fact that over years of fieldwork I had seen first hand the devastation facing the natural world. We live in a time when humans have extinguished half of the world’s wildlife in the last half-century. Our oceans, our rainforest, and many of the other crucial systems that keep us alive are in serious jeopardy. Similarly, many of the most important and iconic species we share the planet with are teetering on the edge of extinction. Elephants, rhinos, tigers, and myriad other creatures are today under more urgent threat than ever before in history. The Amazon as a system contains more plants and animals than any other system on earth, and produces one fifth of our world’s oxygen and contains one fifth of the planet’s fresh water. We need it. Everyone on earth needs it. I have seen first hand how rapidly it is being destroyed, and want people to understand why it is vanishing, why it is so crucial to all of our lives, and what we can do to save it. 

The other point that compelled me to begin writing was the accumulation of a number of unique experiences. From raising a giant anteater, to traveling with poachers, and launching expeditions into the remotest corners of the giant rainforest, there came a time when I realized that I had had the privilege of surviving a number of experiences that might make for engaging reading. More importantly, I had lived through events and seen things that would allow me to give a first hand account, of a crucial story unfolding in a region far removed from most people’s horizons. 


BR: Can you walk us through a little of the writing process.

PR: I am a note taker, a journal writer. I record species, journal entries, emotions, events, questions and anything else that comes to mind during my time in the field. So first came years of experiencing and learning first hand - most of that time without ever imagining making these observations into a serous piece of writing. But once the project took shape, I began going through years of field notes, books scratched, burned, and warped by rain. Then came massive amounts of research. I first outlined which stories and events were most important, organized them into a narrative that would make sense as a story. Balancing a relatable story and the science and information about the complex tapestry of modern Amazonia was a major concern, and so ultimately I decided to tell the story from my own perspective, and take readers on the journey with me, in the hopes that it would make the subject more accessible to a wider audience.


BR:  What do you hope readers take away from the book?

PR: My time in the jungle has taught me many things, among them that there really are things in this world worth fighting for, and that making a real difference in the world is a journey worth devoting you life to. I want people to understand that without nature, we could not exist. Without plants and animals to create soil the civilizations of our history could never have flourished. Without photosynthesizing life, our atmosphere would not have been breathable for us. The biodiversity we share this planet with literally created the reality we live in. I want people to see and appreciate how much wildlife means to us, to all people, and how there is still so much left to save - there is still hope. And of course, I want people to take away a sense of adventure. We live in an incredible world. 


BR:  What was the most challenging part of the publishing process?

PR: The publishing process was one of the most daunting things I have ever undertaken. Surviving for weeks alone in the Amazon is a piece of cake compared to the fear I felt when preparing to send out my work into the world. Querying agents, preparing a proposal, and fielding many rejections is not easy for anyone. And the literature on publishing will warn you: the vast majority will fail. For me the most challenging part was that beginning period. It is a tough gauntlet but it is in place for a reason. Find someone who knows how to write a query letter, make a great proposal, and if your book is truly great, it will find its way. 


BR: Can you tell us a little bit about what was in your head as you suited up to take on that anaconda?

PR: People always ask me this question, and its a good one. But I almost never answer it truthfully. On television they want to hear about how scared I was, or how fast my heart was going, or did it hurt? But what was really going through my mind was the hope that it would not be a wasted endeavor. I had faced far more dangerous moments in the jungle, with wild anacondas. I was actually enjoying seeing the power of that magnificent snake wrapped around me. But what was really going through my mind was the hope that this stunt, and all the publicity it would generate would help people to wake up. I hoped that it would allow me the platform from which to tell the public what is happening to the Amazon. I hoped I could shed light on the wildlife holocaust we are currently in, and how desperately we need to act to make sure that the ecosystems of the world, and the wonderful non-human beings we share this place with, really are. 


BR: What do you want our readers to know about anacondas? 

PR: They are the largest species of snake on earth. And so are one of the most influential players in the vast biotic matrix of the Amazonian ecosystem. It is a system that we all need. Oxygen, fresh water, global weather, biodiversity, resources, medicines, and so many cultures that live within the basin make it perhaps the single greatest gift nature has bestowed on our planet. The possibility that we are losing it is unacceptable. These beautiful, giant snakes are intimately tied to the health of this system both ecologically and spiritually - the biotic masterpiece that is the Amazon Basin. 


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