“Nec Aspira Terrent" ~ Fawcett family motto which I have seen translated as "fear no obstacles" or "difficulties be damned". I like them both.
What an adventure! This book was a lot of fun, very firmly cemented my desire to never ever go to Amazon jungle and weirdly segues into next book I'm reading so I will log some snippets.
What was true about the region -- serpents as long as trees, rodents the size of pigs -- was sufficiently beyond belief that no embellishment seemed too fanciful. And the most entrancing vision of all was of El Dorado. Raleigh claimed that the kingdom, which the conquistadores heard about from Indians, was so plentiful in gold that its inhabitants ground the metal into powder and blew it "thorow hollow canes upon their naked bodies untill they be al shining from the foote to the head."
Yet each expedition that tried to find El Dorado ended in disaster. Carvajal, whose party had been searching for the kingdom, wrote in his diary, "We reached a [state of] privation so great that we were eating nothing but leather, belts and soles of shoes, cooked with certain herbs, with the result that so great was our weakness that we could not remain standing." Some four thousand men died during that expedition alone, of starvation and disease and at the hands of Indians defending their territory with arrows dipped in poison. Other El Dorado parties resorted to cannibalism. Many explorers went mad. In 1561, Lope de Aguirre led his men on a murderous rampage, screaming, "Does God think that, because it is raining, I am not going to... destroy the world?" Aguirre even stabbed his own child, whispering, "Commend thyself to God, my daughter, for I am about to kill thee." Before the Spanish crown sent forces to stop him, Aguirre warned in a letter, "I swear to you, King, on my word as a Christian, that if a hundred thousand men came, none would escape. For the reports are false: there is nothing on that river but despair."(11)
"Explorers are not, perhaps, the most promising people with whom to build a society. Indeed, some might say that explorers become explorers precisely because they have a streak of unsociability and a need to remove themselves at regular intervals as far as possible from their fellow men."(60)
There is wonderful documentary on Netflix Instant about this amazing story, "Secrets of the Dead: Lost in the Amazon". It will only whet the appetite but lots of photos of stuff/people described in book and other assorted curiosities, definitely recommended!