Along the Ucayali: Pucallpa to Iquitos
by Frederick L. Kramer

"My experiences on the Ucayali never ended, as I still always think about my moments there."

In July 1963, author Kramer, having left law school, instead takes a high school teaching contract in Vermont. He spends the remainder of the summer fulfilling a long-held dream: world travel. Intending to visit friends in Lima, Peru, he winds up on the banks of the winding Ucayali River. For longer than expected, he will travel on the riverboat SS Hullaga in the depths of the Amazon. He is one of only two gringos on board, the other being his roommate, Leo, an Australian who's left a boring profession to hunt for gold. Together the newly bonded pals explore the cultural and natural enchantments of their exotic environment, eat local foods, sample local liquor, and in Kramer's case, fall briefly in love and contemplate a permanent existence along the Ucayali. But duty calls, and Kramer returns to the US to teach and fulfill another small dream—becoming a published poet.

Kramer has infused his narrative with many references to poetry, particularly Robert Frost's "The Road Less Travelled," a work that expresses the inner confusion and choice that often afflict young people on the cusp of adulthood. His trip to South America was bold, and his later teaching experience carries this questioning bent to another level as he strives to motivate high school students to express their feelings through writing. At every juncture, both abroad and back in the States, the author finds space to postulate and philosophize. His writing is clear, emotive, and often amusing, designed to capture the reader's attention from the beginning. For members of his generation, the book may evince similar memories and might well inspire young people of the current generation to leave their safe havens and take to the roads and rivers of foreign climes.

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