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Mosquitos, Slugs & Blisters The Size Of Eggs: The Walk To Save The Amazon Begins.

 La Journada Sunday Edition Illustration of Paul Coleman walking through Mexico 1991 on his Walk to Save the Amazon
La Journada Sunday Edition Illustration of me walking through Mexico 1991.

On July 25th, 1990, I began what was to be a two-year Walk To Save The Amazon, from Canada to South America to draw attention to the destruction of the rainforests and the first United Nations Earth Summit that was set to take place in 1992.

I had money for a month, a lot of faith, an equal amount of fear, and an overweight backpack loaded with slides and videos on the Amazon, and books on edible plants, mushrooms, and survival.

I carried a journal, pencils, brushes, watercolours, an artist’s pad, too many clothes, a towel, tent, sleeping bag, mat, compass, flashlight, insect repellent, cooker, cutlery, pans, maps, army knife, rope, medicine kit, toiletries, and loads of stuff I soon deemed to be unnecessary.

I wore boots suitable for work, but not for a walk, and within two days I had blisters the size of eggs and feet so hot that I wondered if they were being roasted, toasted, or fried.

Below are a few notes from my journal. July 26th, 1990

July 25th 1990 Kingston - USA Walk To Save The Amazon

When I stepped out of the Youth Hostel to begin my twelve thousand-kilometer walk to save the Amazon, it was a beautiful sunny day and my spirits were high as I waved goodbye to the photographer from the local newspaper and left the historic Canadian city of Kingston headed towards the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the border with New York and the United States of America.

Article for Walk To Save The Amazon in Ganonoque Newspaper
Article from Ganonoque, 3 days later

My steps were surprisingly light, considering that I am now basically homeless, with just enough money for a month. But as the day wore on and heat increased the weight on my back began to take its toll. Sweat poured from my forehead into my eyes, my back ached, and my neck strained forward as my shoulders were pulled backward by the heavy load I carried on my back.

My mind struggled as the physical stress built up along with the recognition of the enormous task in front of me.

I'd take one step, then another and another, plodding on until I was forced to remove my bag and fall in relief to the ground, whenever possible, in the shade of a tree. It was so hot!

The day turned to evening and the pleasure at the start of the day had turned to agony. My back screamed for relief and my feet were on fire. Night fell, and I scouted for a place to camp. When the road was clear of traffic I moved behind some trees, unpacked my sleeping bag, and lay down beneath a bush. It was a restless night and soon I was sweating and being attacked by mosquitoes.

I tossed and turned and when I got up in the morning my clothes were soaked with sweat. I stank of insect repellent, and my sleeping bag was covered with slugs.



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