"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
April 26, 2013
Life on the Amazon
by Dian Thomas

This last week I had the privilege to visit the Amazon and spend a few days going up and down the river. This is the largest river in the world. I flew from Lima, Peru to Iquitos, Peru. This is a city that is only accessible by plane or boat. The population is close to 500,000. There were few cars but the took tooks were everywhere on the roads. A took took is a motorbike with two wheels on the back and a small cover over the top. It seats two people in the back and one driver in the front.

A small bus picked us up and took us to the harbor. There we boarded a 15-passenger speed boat that took our 9-person group 50 miles downriver to Heliconia Lodge where we stayed, in the middle of the jungle.

It was not long before we realized this river was everything to the people that lived along the banks. The river looks like chocolate milk and seems to be at least a half-mile across. The river is the main mode of transportation. Our guide lived up river and said that he only had a small paddleboat. There was everything from a one-man canoe to a hundred-passenger boat and cargo boats going up and down the river. Most interesting to me was the water taxi which looked like it could hold about 100 people, but I am sure was packed with over two hundred passengers as this is the main way they go up and down the river.

Our first visit was to a family of four. They lived in a house that was built on stilts. It was there that we learned that the level of the river varies as much as 45 feet from winter to summer. During the winter the water is at it highest which makes it more difficult for the people to catch fish and grow crops. When the level of the water goes down they catch more fish and plant crops that consist of rice, tropical fruit trees and sugar cane. The kitchen had an open fire stove that was built on a base of clay. Cut logs were stored under the clay base. There was a grate where they would put the pans or grill the fish that they caught along the river. On the back porch were large containers to catch the rainwater as it rains often, and this is their source for fresh water. In the three days that we were there, it rained one-third of the time. Carlos, our guide, told us that in the summer they dig latrines but in the winter the bathroom is out on a limb of a tree over the river.

There is no electricity along the river. The only contact they have to the outside world is a battery-operated radio. Everyone that we met seemed very happy with the simple life they were living. I am not sure they know there is anything else.

We visited an Indian tribe, which looked like they came out of the pages of National Geographic. It looked to me like life on the river was much the same as it was one hundred years ago.

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About Dian Thomas

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born near and raised in the remote, breathtaking Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah, where her father was the forest ranger. She took the skills she learned in the outdoors and turned them into a New York Times best-selling book, Roughing It Easy. Her appearance on the NBC's "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson boosted her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC's "Today" show for eight years and then ABC's "Home Show" for six years. After more than 25 years of media exposure and 19 books, she now shares her practical insights and wisdom with audiences who want to savor life.

A former Relief Society president, Dian is currently serving as a visiting teacher. Visit her website at www.DianThomas.com

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