Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | October 18, 2010

molly’s cafe book report: up the amazon and over the andes

violet cressy-marcks

someone brought this rather obscure book into the cafe, so i read it.  it was written by violet cressy-marcks in 1932.  she was an english lady who really had the travel bug and the nerve to travel in very difficult places and circumstances.  she was not a great writer but at times the book was gripping, particularly as she was writing about slogging over trails with mud up to her waist at times.  she travelled much of the amazon by canoe and then on trails on mule– or walked behind them.  like english ladies of the time, she had letters of introduction that often helped her along when she was in more civilized places.

cressy-marcks travelled all over the world, and according to some, she was partly sponsored by the secret service in england, though at the same time she seemed to have ample funds of her own.  in this book she travelled first to new york and then to para, brazil.  from there she travelled, as the book’s title says, up the amazon and over the andes.  she commented on the food (at times an egg and coffee were heaven to her) and its scarcity in many places.  she also described the native peoples and the various sort of odd foreigners she met.  on one occasion a melancholy foreigner on the boat with her committed suicide by shooting himself.  others had married native women and were settled in these remote places.  when she finally arrived in civilization after her trip over the andes, people could not believe she had done it. she also had a hard time adjusting to being back– sleeping in a bed!  hot food!

one cool thing about this copy of the book was that it had a lot of dried leaves and flowers pressed into it.  that seemed very much in the spirit of the book, as she commented often on the insects, wildlife, and flora.  at the end of the book she compiled a list of the things one should take on such an expedition.  she also carried still and movie cameras, but evidently often the films did not survive the travails of this travel.

i looked at wikipedia before writing this and saw that this woman had written many books.  i hope one crosses my path again, as she was very remarkable for her time.  for now this copy is in the cafe, so stop in soon before it is up and over.



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