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I was Corner Man in a Poison Frog Ceremony

The talent of Dow-kietl, the shiny green frog that exudes Sapo or frog sweat to paralyze the biting jaws of predator snakes, was hidden from the western world until Peter Gorman introduced the ´death experience´ to the N.Y. American Museum of Natural History in 1986, and then to Amazon outward bounders. Last night I witnessed [...]

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A Private History of the Darien

Panama's historic Darién Gap - a 10,000-square-mile swath of jungle on the border of Central and South America - has eaten explorers alive for centuries. Today, guerrillas, American trained Panamanian soldiers, drug smugglers, their bushwhackers, poachers, and jaguars rule this vast no-man's-land. I've tried to penetrate the Darien four times, and turned back as many, [...]

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Up the Rio Tigre in a Hearse

Black smoke shot up the stack of a tramp steamer that began a voyage that haunts me to this day (2014). Any Amazon excursion has three stages, and this was the first, on a triple deck ship from the furthermost port or Iquitos, Peru for a few days on the Rio Amazon to the mouth [...]

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Cat Spotting

I saw my first desert big cat on a hot day (2008) in McCoy Wash northwest of Blythe, Ca. a few hours ago. It was just another 110-degree August walk when a black cloud formed, reared in the east and approached on the wind.  Suddenly the sun was blotted as sand blew horizontally at 40mph [...]

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Nicaragua (2008)

I enter Nicaragua, a country I know little about except for a reputation of being the poorest and most rewarding spot in Central America, in a motorized canoe at the remote port of San Carlos. A yellow canvas awning shades two dozen jabbering Latinas with their stores and me from the blazing sun and whatever [...]

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Whitewater

It is early June, bouncing on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River racing through Idaho in flood with ice melt down from the Rockies. Our group of six divvies on two 12-foot Navy rubber rafts plus two kayaks, with battling oars in my own uncalloused hands. I have never oared a raft before, but [...]

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One Armed Evangelist

I've had a small, new e-mail exchange with the Amazon Walker. Backing up 15 years I should tell you that one sleepless night I determined to walk the length of the Amazon basin alongside the Amazon River. The best maps -- and I don't claim to have the best -- showed a dirt track ambling [...]

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The Gang at Dog Corner

An aorta squirts out from the heart of Iquitos called the Boulevard that conveys tourists along the scenic Rio Amazon and to their hotels. Ten blocks south of Plaza de Armas, the ornate promenade abruptly tapers to a muddy track at the entrance to waterfront Belen. This is Dog Corner, at Ramirez Hurtado and Ucayali [...]

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Dogs: A leading Indicator of Man

You may read a guidebook, or just as well judge a people in a new land by their dogs. In rainforest Iquitos, five years ago, all the dogs were friendly, and so were all of the 700,000 citizens I encountered during multiple visits from 1999 through five years ago, 2010. As the new decade swung [...]

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Bud Road

What happens when three Berkeley intellectuals drop into Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a spaced out guide? The trio includes Cathy, author and advisor to the White House on western literature, Liz, a Boca Rotan yoga instructor, and Neil the anthropologist. Four months ago on learning that I live in a hole, wear rope suspenders, and [...]

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