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Naked in the Jungle

October 6, 2019

An indigenous person knows how to avoid dangers and find a cure or an antidote for them, because he has been trained as a child in the proper use of medicinal plants found in the jungle .

They are plants used to lower high fevers, combat diarrhea or hemorrhage, or heal wounds or ulcers, and also to enter a trance in ritual ceremonies.


How to survive in the Amazon?

One of the most interesting and useful books I have read on the subject of human survival in the Amazon is Naked in the Jungle. Survival and Subsistence” , written by the Venezuelan explorer and scientist Charles Brewer-Carias.

The book is full of illustrations explained very simply.

Brewer-Carias has a long experience in scientific explorations in the jungle, which began in 1960, leading more than 200 expeditions, accompanied by famous world-renowned scientists such as Julian A. Steyermark, the botanist with the most plants collected in the world, and Basset Maguire, Guiana’s greatest botanical explorer.

On the uses of the palms of the Amazon.

Brewer-Carias teaches us in his book to distinguish between the different species of palms , one of the most abundant genera in the Amazon.

It details and illustrates, with drawings and photographs, about 22 selected species, explaining their most relevant characteristics to identify them, as well as the uses that each one has.

It also refers to other plants from which food or drink can be obtained, or which must be avoided because their fruits are highly toxic.

The dangers lurking in the jungle.

One of the biggest problems that a survivor in the jungle has to face is how to protect himself from so many dangers, sometimes deadly: from the action of many insects , snakes, arachnids, batrachians, that abound in the jungle and that can cause serious injuries or diseases to those who inhabit it.

Medicinal plants and remedies from the Amazon rainforest.

Brewer-Carias introduces us to the knowledge of medicinal plants , teaches us how to recognize, combat or eliminate various conditions:

  • Chiggers (Tungua penetrans): insects that burrow under the toenails, causing infections that are very difficult to cure.
  • Ticks (human Ehrlichiosis): how to eliminate them by means of fire?
  • poisonous ants.
  • Bites of the angoleta, a sandfly mosquito that can transmit a parasite, leishmania, which causes leishmaniasis, which presents in the form of unpleasant skin ulcers.

Hazards on the Amazon Rainforest Floor: How to Protect Yourself?

In the aforementioned book it clearly says that in the jungle…

“…the floor is only for walking, because at night all the animals come together”

Charles Brewer-Carías “Naked in the Jungle”

To avoid them, the writer teaches us how to improvise a hammock with vegetable fibers, to ensure a more protected rest.

Dangers lurk in the jungle, as we walk along paths, stepping on dry leaves, under which snakes hide.

Dangers in streams and rivers of the Amazon.

Bathing in the streams and rivers of the Amazon jungle also exposes us to unsuspected dangers.

The candirú, myth and reality behind a living nightmare.

There, in addition to rays, electric eels and aggressive piranhas , they can be found strange fish , like candiru, canero or blue candiro ( Vandellia cirrhosa ) , a small fish, from the catfish family, parasitic, thin, elongated and transparent, about 5 cm long, which stays in the gills of larger fish, feeding on the blood of its host.

It is said that the candiru is inserted into the orifices (urethra, vagina or anus) of humans who urinate in Amazonian rivers , while bathing.

This legend, which has not been scientifically verified and is probably unfounded, has fueled the indigenous popular imagination and the stories of Amazonian visitors since the end of the 19th century, and has interested the scientific world since it was described by the American Eugene Willis Gudger. , in an article published in the American Journal of Surgery, in 1930.

Other jungle survival techniques described by Charles Brewer-Carias:

In his survival manual, Brewer-Carias instructs his readers in other survival techniques crucial to surviving in the Amazon, including the following:

  • Procedure to easily produce fire, rubbing wood with the bow drill technique.
  • How to get food from many Amazon plants.
  • How to survive, outside the river circuit, getting water from the morning dew, or extracting water from vine vines, or plants with rosettes, such as bromeliads, which are natural reservoirs of water.

Tepuis expert

Charles Brewer Carías has dedicated a good part of his life to exploring the tepuyes. These strange plateaus whose origin dates back to the formation of the earth itself (Precambrian) are a habitat that favors the isolation of plants and animals, for which it is logical to find new species not yet cataloged.

In 2004, this adventurer visited, together with a team of explorers, a cave located on the top of the Chimantá tepuy, which he had seen a couple of years earlier during his helicopter overflights.

The cave was named Charles Brewer Cave, as well as the plant and animal species recorded for the first time by this great Venezuelan explorer.

Among the books published by this author, the following stand out: Entrañas del Mundo Perdido, Roraima: La Montaña de Cristal, La Vegetación Del Mundo Perdido, Venezuela, The lost world of Venezuela and its vegetation.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

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