Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness
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A classic work of nature and humanity, by renowned writer Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014), author of the National Book Award-winning The Snow Leopard and the new novel In Paradise
Peter Matthiessen crisscrossed 20,000 miles of the South American wilderness, from the Amazon rain forests to Machu Picchu, high in the Andes, down to Tierra del Fuego and back. He followed the trails of old explorers, encountered river bandits, wild tribesmen, and the evidence of ancient ruins, and discovered fossils in the depths of the Peruvian jungle. Filled with observations and descriptions of the people and the fading wildlife of this vast world to the south, The Cloud Forest is his incisive, wry report of his expedition into some of the last and most exotic wild terrains in the world.
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the wildest chance, after two days of terrible chagrin, that a plane of the lingüísticos, passing through to Pucallpa, had appeared. Andrés would leave the next morning on the Lima plane, weather permitting, and arrive in time for his famous anniversary celebration in the evening. Andrés had been certain that we were still far upriver, and was rather put out when he learned from Fausto Lopez at the Mercedes that I had not only checked in two hours ahead of him but was even now standing in plain
lion’s tooth—the common dandelion. The weather today is back to normal—this is to say, blowing a gale. (Despite traditional reports to the contrary, the wind blows hardest here in summer. This is very fortunate, for this wind, in combination with the intense cold of winter, would make life in these regions almost insupportable.) The color of the Strait is largely white, and the small cargo sloop, the Gaviota, on which I had hoped to cross today to Tierra del Fuego, will not venture out. In
entangled mass of the thriving and the fallen reminded me of the forests within the tropics—yet there was a difference: for in these still solitudes, Death, instead of Life, seemed the predominant spirit. At dusk the mountain crags were gloomy in dying clouds. Darkness came on swiftly, and the snow on the sharp peaks and distant glaciers became dim and amorphous. In the close forest of the ravines the truck ground and slipped and stalled on the steep, rough road; we inched along, hour after
MATTHIESSEN PENGUIN BOOKS Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China penguin.com A Penguin Random House Company First published in the United States of America by The Viking Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 1961 Published in Penguin Books 1987 This edition published in Penguin Books 1996 Copyright © 1961 by Peter Matthiessen
admission, was wanted by the law, not only in Cuzco, where he is seriously in debt, but in Quillabamba, where he recently slugged a policeman. Like his father, he felt quite safe in Pangoa, the implication to Andrés being that he could do anything he pleased there and get away with it. Obviously this was true, and Andrés’s apprehension at Pangoa seems more natural to me all the time. It is remarkable that a man of Andrés’s age has borne that trip down through the montaña as well as he has. I