Book review: Iténez, River of Hope


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Amanda Flora Hilda Bleher is Heiko's mother and in this new launch, edited by her son, tells how she and her young family set off from Germany for a new life of adventure and discovery in South America.

It tells largely of her first expedition to the Amazon in 1953. Fleeing post-war austerity and memories of a recent divorce Amanda sets off by car with her four children and much luggage to start an export business for aquarium plants and fishes in Brazil.

Her love of nature, and in particular aquatic plants and orchids, was inspired by her father Adolf Kiel and the book is a treasure trove of information about plant, animal and fish species found in the regions through which the family travelled.

The family settled for a few months on the banks of the then unspoilt Iténez river, bordering Brazil and Bolivia, then utilised everything from ox carts to aircraft in their two-year journey into the rainforest and across the continent.

Surviving on luck, bravery and sheer force of will they dealt with tropical diseases, venomous snakes, cannibals, corruption, accusations of espionage, imprisonment and road accidents — while retaining an enduring, unshakeable love of all things plant and animal in the regions they passed through.

The book is a fascinating insight into a largely lost South America, its wildlife and people in the mid-20th century, as well as a record of the attitudes of people during that period.
ISBN: 13 978-88-902904-2-8
Publisher: Aquapress, Italy.
Price: £12.40/14.72 euros