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  Field Notes From
Into the Amazon

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Into the Amazon On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Scott Wallace

Into the Amazon On Assignment

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From Photographer

Nicolas Reynard

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Nicolas Reynard


Into the Amazon

Field Notes From Author
Scott Wallace
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    It was an amazing experience to wander through virtual terra incognita, this enormous untouched primeval forest. For the most part, there weren't even any preexisting footpaths; it was all bushwacking through virgin jungle. I found it amazing to observe families of monkeys at play high up in the treetops overhead, chattering and jumping from tree to tree. It somehow evoked images of our own origins and of an Earth that has been almost completely forgotten by us, so mesmerized are we by technology and the constant bombardment of messages we receive from the media. This was an opportunity to disconnect completely from the world we take for granted. It gave me a different perspective on our daily lives.

    On the other hand, the one thing I really missed about the world I had left behind were my loved ones, with whom I had no communication for weeks on end. Though we had a satellite phone with us, it inexplicably ceased functioning one day while we were deep in the bush, leaving us totally bereft of contact with the outside world.

    After months in the bush, relying strictly on our legs for hiking and our arms for paddling, moving at a snail's pace through the jungle, we were stunned one day when an international jetliner passed straight over us through the deep blue firmament while we rowed down the Jutaí in our dugout canoes. Everyone halted to behold the huge bird as it passed overhead, its twin engines etching a pair of perfectly parallel contrails in the sky. "That plane is big enough to carry more than 200 people inside," I said to my companions. "It's traveling at nearly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) an hour and just above six miles (ten kilometers) up."
    As the plane continued across the sky, our Indian companions shielded their eyes against the sun and watched silently. It was amazing to think something so huge, so fast, and so far overhead was part of the same world we inhabited down here on the river, manufactured by the same human hands that gripped the paddles that propelled us downstream at the rate of four to five miles (six to eight kilometers) an hour.

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