“The ordinary traveler, who never goes off the beaten route and who on this beaten route is carried by others, without himself doing anything or risking anything, does not need to show much more initiative and intelligence than an express package … If this kind of traveler is a writer, he can of course do admirable work, and work of the highest value; but the value comes because he is a writer and observer, not because of any particular credit that attaches to him as a traveler.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness (ed. Dain Borges)

“We made our noonday halt on an island where very tall trees grew, bearing fruits that were pleasant to the taste. Other trees on the island were covered with rich red and yellow blossoms, and masses of delicate blue flowers and of star-shaped white flowers grew underfoot. Hither and thither across the surface of the river flew swallows, with so much white in their plumage that as they flashed in the sun, they seemed to have snow-white bodies, borne by dark wings. The current of the river grew swifter; there were stretches of broken water that were almost rapids; the laboring engine strained and sobbed as with increasing difficulty it urged forward the launch … At nightfall we moored beside the bank, where the forest was open enough to permit a comfortable camp. That night the ants ate large holes in [expedition naturalist Leo] Miller’s mosquito netting and almost devoured his socks and shoelaces.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness (ed. Dain Borges)

“The poorer people of the backcountry everywhere suffer because of the harsh and improper laws of debt. In practice, these laws have resulted in establishing a system of peonage, such as has grown up here and there in our own nation. A radical change is needed in this matter; and [Colonel Rondon] is fighting for the change. In school matters, the colonel has precisely the ideas of our wisest and most advanced men and women in the United States … [We] talked over school matters at length and were in hearty accord as to the vital educational needs of both Brazil and the United States: the need of combining industrial with purely mental training, and the need of having the widespread popular education, which is and must be supported and paid for by the government, made a purely governmental and absolutely nonsectarian function, administered by the state alone, without interference with, not furtherance of, the beliefs of any reputable church.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness (ed. Dain Borges)

“Now and then we were bitten and stung by the venomous fire ants, and ticks crawled upon us. Once we were assailed by more serious foes, in the shape of a nest of marabunta wasps, not the biggest kind, but about the size of our hornets. We were at the time passing through dense jungle, under tall trees, in a spot where the down timber, holes, tangled creepers, and thorns made the going difficult. The leading men were not assailed, although they were now and then cutting the trail. Colonel Rondon and I were in the middle of the column, and the swarm attacked us; both of us were badly stung on the face, neck, and hands, the colonel even more severely than I was. He wheeled and rode to the rear and I to the front; our horses were stung too; and we went at a rate that a moment previously I would have deemed impossible over such ground. In these forests the multitude of insects that bite, sting, devour, and prey upon other creatures, often with accompaniments of atrocious suffering, passes belief. The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics. Of course ‘nature’—in common parlance a wholly inaccurate term, by the way, especially when used as if to express a single entity—is entirely ruthless, no less so as regards types than as regards individuals, and entirely indifferent to good or evil, and works out her ends or no ends with utter disregard of pain and woe.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness (ed. Dain Borges)