Dec 6, 2009

Paddle to the Amazon

by Don Starkell

When I was growing up, my family did lots of camping and we went on many canoe trips down river stretches, some quiet and peaceful with glimpses of wildlife, others challenging and exciting with rushing whitewater. There were a number of books on canoeing (both instructional and inspiring) that sat on the family bookshelves, and this is one that got read enough times it began to fall apart. It's just that fantastic.

Paddle to the Amazon is about a father and son team that traveled from Winnipeg, Canada down the Mississippi river and through ocean waters to the mouth of the Amazon river in Brazil, by the power of their own arms in a canoe. On the long journey -over 12,000 miles- they suffered from sunburn, salt sores, illness and sometimes even faced starvation. They traversed numerous foreign countries- sometimes welcomed and assisted by friendly strangers, other times facing thievery or arrest by hostile natives (often exacerbated by the language barrier). Then there's the dangers of weather, not to mention wild animals. In particular I still recall vivid scenes with crocodiles, huge snakes and fearsome insects, even though it's been years since I read the book! It's amazing what hardships the Starkells went through to complete their journey, especially in the face of setbacks when they forgot (or lost) crucial supplies and gear. It's one of those stories that makes you catch your breath, amazed at the frequent scrapes with danger, astonished at what some people will put themselves through, and cheering when they finally reach their goal. A great adventure story.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 320 pages, 1987

More opinions at:
Hooser's Blook
Helen Foster James
anyone else?

6 comments:

bermudaonion said...

There is no way I could ever do that! How long did it take them?

Jeane said...

Two years, I think. Incredible, huh? I never would have made it!

Jenny said...

That's amazing - I think the mosquitoes alone would have been enough to do me in! How old was the son when they set out to do this?

Jeane said...

There were actually two sons, one dropped out halfway. They were both teenagers, but I don't remember their exact ages.

Cathy said...

Thanks so much for the review. I've now got a copy of this book on its way to me from Paperback Swap!

Jeane said...

Cathy- you beat me to it! I was just going to look for a copy to add to my library (the one I read was in my parents') and there aren't any available on PB Swap or Book Mooch! I'll have to keep looking...