Walking the Amazon: Part One

Has anyone else been watching this show on the Discovery channel?

Walking the Amazon is a two-part documentary chronicling the 28-month journey Ed Stafford took to become the first man in history to walk the entire length of the Amazon river.

Pretty impressive stuff, eh?

Part One first aired on the Discovery Channel last Wednesday. I’ve only now gotten around to watching it. And wow. What a guy. It’s like he has zero fear.

The first episode begins with Ed and his friend, Luke Collyer, starting at Camana in Peru, following the trickles of streams over the mountains that begin to form what we know as the Amazon. About two months into their trek, Luke feels too homesick and pulls out, leaving Ed in the company of his guide to complete the trek on his own.

It’s when the journey continues onwards through the Red Zone, the notorious drug trafficking area in Peru where coca grows in abundance, that Ed is once again abandoned after his guide refuses to risk his life walking through areas the Peruvian army won’t even go near.

Finding another guide, Cho, (who ends up staying with him for the rest of the journey) Ed continues onwards along the Amazon in spite of mass flooding of the land during the rainy season.

It’s quite a fascinating watch. Doing my online research, I’m only now discovering that Ed was actually once an Army captain, which makes a lot of sense considering he seems to show no trepidation about walking through lands where people had been shot just 20 minutes earlier by drug farmers and has a steel determination to carry on with his journey no matter what. He refuses to let anything stop him.

Those with a squeamish stomach need to be warned – There’s some pretty graphic stuff involved. At one point Ed and Cho have been in the jungle for a couple of weeks without any real food. They spot a tortoise and proceed to kill it. Not only that but we get to watch the whole gory ordeal as they rip open it’s shell with a machete and discover the tortoise is pregnant. Meat for dinner; Eggs for breakfast. As a vegetarian, I can’t say this provided pleasurable viewing.

But the journey itself is still an interesting one. Coming up to the 12-month mark on their journey, Ed and Cho bear witness to a ‘coming of age’ ritual by a local tribe that were unaffected by the Spanish invasion. At the age of 15, a young girl is about to be brought back into her community, having spent two years shut away after her first period started. Watching the lifestyles and everyday occurences of the Amazon people is one of the things that make this show so intriguing.

The journey itself was predicted to last for 18 months. Ed took 28. As Part One comes to a close we begin to see the changes in plans occur as Ed and Cho decide to head closer to the border of Colombia to get to higher ground, away from the flooding.

If you haven’t been watching it, I’d definitely recommend tuning it to catch the second part next Wednesday 9th February at 10pm on the Discovery Channel. If you can’t then check out Ed’s blogs here and here and read all about his journey for yourself. It’s worth it.

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