Interview with the author of the adventure travel memoir Amazon Hitchhiker
Today we meet the great adventurer Alycin Hayes. She is a writer of prose and poetry, an actress, filmmaker, and songwriter originally from Canada who has spent much of her life adventuring all over the world. She is also the author of the award-winning children’s book Milo and the Mustang.
But today, we will talk about her new, recently published book Amazon Hitchhiker: A Woman's Adventures from Canada to Brazil, the book cover of which I created with great enthusiasm.
About the book - Amazon Hitchhiker: A Woman's Adventures from Canada to Brazil, is the true story of Alycin Hayes, a young woman who hitchhikes alone in the 1970s across the USA, Mexico, and Central America to the Amazon Basin. On the spur of the moment, she buys an old dugout canoe, thinking she can paddle from Colombia to Brazil. Without enough food or even a map, she soon discovers the Amazon rainforest is not the idyllic paradise she had imagined. She forges her way through this challenging, sometimes mystical adventure, facing life-threatening obstacles while falling in love on the journey. With candid honesty and a lifesaving sense of humor, Hayes has written an account of her travels that you won't want to put down.
Not every day you have the opportunity to meet such an extraordinary person whose stories you can listen to for hours, right? So sit back cozily and get to know the author of this amazing book.
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What made you grab your backpack and embark on this dangerous adventure?
I have always craved adventure and been attracted to wild natural places. The Amazon River held a fascination for me that I felt compelled to explore.
Please describe to our readers the route you have taken and what were the most challenging places? It was so impressive for me to find out about all these places.
I hitchhiked alone across the USA & Mexico, found love in Guatemala, worked with orphans in Costa Rica, paddled a dugout canoe through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru where I was led by pink dolphins to find a primitive Amazonian tribe. In the Bolivian rainforest, I met an escaped Nazi and learned about life from the halocingenic San Pedro cactus. Later I found myself penniless in Argentina during the “Dirty War” before I found love again in Brazil. Some of the greatest challenges were dangerous wild animals, thieves, tropical diseases and unpredictable rivers. To learn more, you must read my true adventure memoir “Amazon Hitchhiker''.
How long have you been planning this trip? And is it expensive to go through such a huge transition from a financial point of view?
I planned my trip to South America for about a year as I worked to save up enough money to embark on this long overland journey. My trip was not expensive because I hitchhiked and camped whenever possible. If I couldn’t find a place to pitch my tent, I stayed in cheap hotels or hostels. Often people invited me to stay with them in their homes. When I ran out of money, I found work teaching English until I had saved enough to resume travel. I have traveled this way most of my life over much of the world.
Such an adventure has undoubtedly changed the way you perceive the world. Please tell us how did this trip change you?
By following my dreams I discovered not only new parts of our planet but also new parts of myself. I learned that I could be as strong as I dared to be when I opened myself up to mystical experiences in the wild natural world of the Amazon rainforest.
Tell us about the dangers you went through? It was hardly just beautiful views!
There were many dangerous moments on this trip. Canoeing down the Putumayo River, a tributary of the Amazon in Colombia, was by far the most dangerous. We ran out of food, got lost, were robbed, and became ill with tropical diseases.
Would you advise your children to make such a challenging and rough adventure?
My son believes that he got his adventurous spirit from me. In his 20’s he embarked alone on a similar adventure through the jungles of Bolivia and Brazil.
Tell us about the people you met along the way? What impressed you about the other cultures you immersed yourself in?
There is a special world of spontaneous relationships that develop between world travelers when they meet in foreign countries. Several of the people I met traveling are still good friends.
As much as possible, I became immersed in the cultures of the countries I visited. I was constantly impressed by the generosity and kindness of the majority of people I met traveling, especially the very poor.
If you close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful place on the planet ... What do you see?
I imagine myself swimming with pink river dolphins in their magical underwater city of Encantante in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.
Enjoy a short movie with Alycin Hayes 🎬 Echo Through The Trees by Maryam Astaneh.
"Watch the untold story of the land near Stratford, Ontario called the Echo Hill Farm transform into a wildlife sanctuary. This is how planting trees can change the world, making it a better place for us and other living beings to live."
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Thank you, Alycin, for being a guest of our book club. I will be waiting for you to contact us for your next amazing project.
If you are curious to learn more about Alycin Hayes' books you could check also the author's website . Enjoy!