Paul Rosolie (@PaulRosolie) is a conservationist, a filmmaker, the director of JungleKeepers and Tamandua Expeditions, and the author of Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon.
What We Discuss with Paul Rosolie:
- How Paul Rosolie and his JungleKeepers team showcase sustainable and profitable alternatives to illegal logging and mining for locals — and their descendants — to prosper.
- Why many uncontacted tribes in the Amazon react to intrusion by outsiders with extreme violence — even when the outsiders demonstrate the best of intentions.
- How invasive and inefficient gold mining by armed, organized criminals from places as far away as Russia is turning once lush rainforests into mercury-poisoned wastelands.
- Efforts being made to harness medicinal compounds unique to the Amazon — and the knowledge to use them — and prevent them from disappearing for good.
- Even if you need to slim down for beach season, Paul doesn’t recommend getting lost in the unforgiving Amazon — where he shed a pound a day simply trying to survive before finding his way back to civilization.
- And much more…
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The Amazon rainforest of South America is a treasure trove of biodiversity in which unknown species are discovered on a daily basis. It can be an unforgiving, never-ending battleground where only the strong survive, but it’s also an irreplaceable medicine cabinet stocked with miraculous compounds that only the region’s indigenous people have learned how to use over unknowable generations. It still has much to teach us, but thanks to the short-sighted greed of outsiders looking to make a quick buck, its yet-unrevealed mysteries are in danger of being lost forever.
On this episode, we’re joined by Paul Rosolie, a conservationist, a filmmaker, the director of JungleKeepers and Tamandua Expeditions, and the author of Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon. Here, we discuss the marvelous (and terrifying) flora and fauna found in the rainforest, sustainable alternatives to illegal logging and mining, the violent reactions of uncontacted tribes to outsiders, the destructive effects of gold mining by armed criminals, efforts to preserve medicinal compounds unique to the Amazon, the dangers of getting lost in the rainforest, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our conversation with Steve Elkins, the real-life explorer and discoverer of the Lost City of the Monkey God? Catch up with episode 299: Steve Elkins | Finding the Lost City of the Monkey God here!
Thanks, Paul Rosolie!
If you enjoyed this session with Paul Rosolie, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon by Paul Rosolie | Amazon
- Paul Rosolie | Website
- Paul Rosolie | Instagram
- Paul Rosolie | Facebook
- Paul Rosolie | LinkedIn
- Paul Rosolie | Twitter
- Stop Irreversible Damage to the Amazon | JungleKeepers
- Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist | Tamandua Expeditions
- This is the Decade of Action | Age of Union
- Dark Green | Sensu
- 72 Dangerous Animals: Latin America | Netflix
- Amazon | WWF
- Fishing for Piranhas the Easy Way | YouTube
- Rainforest Mafias: How Violence and Impunity Fuel Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon | HRW
- Ending Amazon Deforestation: Four Essential Reads about the Future of the World’s Largest Rainforest | The Conversation
- Tambopata National Reserve | Travel Peru
- 100 Years On: The Unsolved Mystery of the Rubber Boom Slaves | Survival International
- Illegal Mining Fuels Crisis for Indigenous Tribe in Brazil’s Amazon | The New York Times
- Expert on Amazon Tribes Killed by Arrow from Uncontacted Group | The Guardian
- Operation Auca | Wikipedia
- Former Warrior Who Speared to Death Two Missionaries Has Died | CHVN
- American Nun Murdered in Brazil | The Guardian
- Uncontacted Tribe Complains of Violent Attacks in Amazon | Al Jazeera America
- Leishmaniasis | CDC
- A Botfly Larvae Under Her Skin: Woman Mistakes It for Ingrown Hair | Monsters Inside Me
- Plants of the Gods — Dr. Mark Plotkin on Ayahuasca, Shamanic Knowledge, the Curse and Blessing of Coca, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #508
- The Hidden Knowledge of Animals — Mark Plotkin on Nature’s Medicine Cabinet | The Tim Ferriss Show #537
- Famed Explorer Wade Davis — How to Become the Architect of Your Life, The Divine Leaf of Immortality, Rites of Passage, Voodoo Demystified, Optimism as the Purpose of Life, How to Be a Prolific Writer, Psychedelics, Monetizing the Creativity of Your Life, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #652
- Passionate about Packrafting in All Its Forms | Alpacka Raft
- One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest by Wade Davis | Amazon
- Meet the Nematode: The Most Important Animal You’ve Never Seen | SciShow
- Three Giant Parasites Explode Out of Zombie Praying Mantis | The Wild Life
- The Bullet Ant: The Insect with the World’s Most Painful Sting | ThoughtCo.
- Avatar | Prime Video
- Giant Anteater | Smithsonian’s National Zoo
- Reuniting with Christian the Lion | Born Free Foundation
827: Paul Rosolie | Perusing and Protecting the Pristine Amazon
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Paul Rosolie: Pay attention to the things that are crawling around. Pay attention to the things that are sleeping in your boots. People find snakes that you know, we go, "Is that venomous or what?" I don't know. No one's ever seen it. It's not any of the books. You got to open up its mouth and look for fangs.
[00:00:19] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional former cult member, drug trafficker, extreme athlete, or astronaut. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:44] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, our episode starter packs are a great place to do that. These are collections of top episodes organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show — topics like persuasion, influence, crime and cults, abnormal psychology, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/starts. You can also search for these in your Spotify app, and they should pop right up.
[00:01:08] Today on the show, my friend, Paul Rosolie, he lives in the Amazon jungle, pretty crazy. I've been meaning to have him on for a long time, but he's always in the jungle. It's a free-ranging conversation about the Amazon jungle. He actually lives. In the part of the Amazon that I traveled to a couple of years ago, so I'm familiar with a lot of the places that he lives in and travels around, and I just thought it was a really fun conversation about everything from poachers and gold mining to psychedelics, to getting lost in the jungle with monkeys and glowing scorpions and macaws everywhere. Just a really incredible experience and a fun conversation. So I hope you enjoy this one with Paul Rosolie.
[00:01:49] We meet people that go to the Amazon and meet people that spend time in weird places, but very rarely is it like, yeah, I split my time between South Beach and the middle of absolutely nowhere, where deadly snakes and spiders could kill you at any second. It's an unusual place to spend your, do you do it seasonally or is it just like whenever you have time?
[00:02:07] Paul Rosolie: No, it's pretty seasonal. Like, I'm originally from New York and like winters is not my natural habitat, and so I try to make sure that I'm in the Amazon. Also, the rainy season in the Amazon is wildly intense, like you have all the destructive creative forces of planet Earth, just like raging at all times. The rivers can go up 20 feet, so it's a very exciting time to be in the jungle. And so I try to be down there for that. And then, so usually in the year, my time will be like January through June, I'm MIA, I'm in the jungle. And so like I've missed things, like I'll come back and then they'll be like cultural things, like people like started using the term Karen, or there'd be like, I still don't know what was it. Like, let's go Brandon thing. I'm like, what? What are you talking about? Or like major events where I'll be like—
[00:02:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, like who's Andrew Tate?
[00:02:53] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:02:53] Jordan Harbinger: Like why are you—?
[00:02:54] Paul Rosolie: No. Oh God, somebody the other day was like, they like referenced a famous person. They were like, _____ or something. And I was like, "Who the hell is that?" And he's like, "Oh, only the biggest artist in the world." And I was like, "Uh, no."
[00:03:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you're talking to the right guy. I also have no idea. But you came back and you're like, "Wait, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars? That can't be true.
[00:03:12] Paul Rosolie: No, they're friends.
[00:03:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:03:14] Paul Rosolie: That can't happen. Will Smith's a nice guy.
[00:03:16] Jordan Harbinger: All of the totally inconsequential crap that we're obsessed with, you're just like, okay.
[00:03:20] Paul Rosolie: Oh, yeah.
[00:03:20] Jordan Harbinger: I've missed nothing really.
[00:03:21] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, or sometimes like, I'll just check out, like I remember when, the election, the first, like when Trump was getting into office, like I live up in the Hudson Valley, man. I'm like, I like saw a bald eagle 10 minutes ago. Like I just went to the Amazon and just spent a month there because like I couldn't handle the general climate of everyone. And I was like, peace.
[00:03:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. I don't blame you. It is funny though that you escape New York winter to go to a place where you could get eaten by something. It's like, well, it's cold. I'd rather go to the place where the river might swell 20 feet overnight in the pitch black. And we have no way to actually escape slash caimans are grabbing me and dragging me underwater. I don't know. I mean, it just seems like, uh, is winter that bad? I guess It is.
[00:04:03] Paul Rosolie: I belong in the rainforest. It's my natural habitat and it's really hard to find good piranha in New York.
[00:04:08] Jordan Harbinger: I saw this guy fishing for piranhas in a video and he basically just took a chicken carcass.
[00:04:13] Paul Rosolie: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:14] Jordan Harbinger: Dipped it in the water. And it came up with like 50 piranhas.
[00:04:18] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:04:18] Jordan Harbinger: And he shakes them off in the boat, dips the carcass again. And he just does that for like 10 or 15 minutes until the bottom of the boat is filled with piranhas. And that was disturbing. But I think the scariest part of it was he was barefoot in the boat with all these piranhas on the bottom. And I'm like, this man plays with fire.
[00:04:34] Paul Rosolie: Yes. No. So we're always barefoot because like all the guys I learned from are native guys. So we're always barefoot, we're always shirtless. So we're always covered in bug bites. And yes, I've seen them do that with a monkey actually. Once I was with like some like loggers and they like shot a monkey.
[00:04:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, it's too bad.
[00:04:47] Paul Rosolie: I was like, "Why did you just shoot that monkey?" And they're like, "Don't worry about it." And they like took it by the tail and they like did it around on the thing. And they caught like 50 piranhas. And I was like, "You just killed a monkey to catch yourself lunch. Like, come on." And they're like, "Yeah, man."
[00:05:00] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:05:01] Paul Rosolie: They're like, "We didn't have any fishing hooks, but we had a bullet." And I was like, "Okay."
[00:05:04] Jordan Harbinger: Eh, but also, can you not just eat the monkey? Is that not better eating than a bunch of disgusting ass piranhas that seem all bony?
[00:05:11] Paul Rosolie: They are bony, but they're good, man. And when you fry them, their fins get like chips. It's really nice. Depends on the monkey, they eat the haulers and the spiders in the communities, but they're not eating like dusky titis and tamarins and like little stuff like that. It's like eating a squirrel.
[00:05:25] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay. Yeah. I ate piranha and it was so greasy, but you know, that's just the cook's job.
[00:05:30] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:05:31] Jordan Harbinger: That's not necessarily the fault of the meat. It's like saying, oh, pork's too greasy. Well, it depends on how you prepare it, right?
[00:05:36] Paul Rosolie: Yes. And some of us love that grease.
[00:05:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I guess if you're in the jungle and all you've eaten are a bunch of plants and—
[00:05:42] Paul Rosolie: Yes.
[00:05:42] Jordan Harbinger: Stuff like that, that grease probably is just epic deliciousness.
[00:05:45] Paul Rosolie: Oh, dude. We fry them up and then I'll take my bowl of rice and I'll just put the fried oil all over the rice.
[00:05:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:05:51] Paul Rosolie: Like I'm just like calories.
[00:05:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. If you're walking through the jungle and sweating and eating maybe two good meals a day.
[00:05:56] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:05:56] Jordan Harbinger: That aren't just straight veggie stuff and you're burning 3000. I mean, maybe you need it.
[00:06:01] Paul Rosolie: Dude, yeah. It's funny because I go to the jungle and I get in shape where I'm like, I'm in shape right now.
[00:06:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:06] Paul Rosolie: And then I come back here and I'm like, you can run every day and hit the gym and do tons of road work and like just to be so on top of your sh*t and it's so much harder to maintain that. Whereas like there, it's like, yeah, we just walked 16 hours, of course, we're in shape. It just the jungle sculpts you and like—
[00:06:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:21] Paul Rosolie: —you're sunburnt and you're barefoot and so your callouses get bigger. You're climbing trees, whatever working out we do is just touching up. It's not the main event.
[00:06:31] Jordan Harbinger: Why are you climbing trees in the jungle?
[00:06:33] Paul Rosolie: We don't actually. We're not like hunter-gatherers. We're out there doing the work that we do with like, whether it's with the rangers or whether it's science work, we generally bring a chef out there and we have somebody that can cook for us. So like finding food isn't usually like, it's an activity like we'll go fishing at night because that's what you do. There's no, I don't know, TV or whatever people do. We'll just go sit on a boat and catch some piranha and watch the sun go down and look for animals. But no climbing trees in the rainforest, 50 percent of the life is 150 feet up in these trees, never touches the ground.
[00:07:02] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:02] Paul Rosolie: So you have birds and snakes and lizards and mammals and mosses, lichens, cactuses, orchids, all this stuff living up there that we don't have any access to. And so it's like walking through New York City where you look up at the buildings and it's like, that's a whole other world up there. And it's like in the rainforest, the tops of those trees are so far away. And so like scientists have had a very hard time accessing the canopy. I actually met somebody at a film festival in France who had devoted, I wanted to talk to him, but he only spoke French. He'd spent a significant portion of his life using hot air balloons to land these giant nets with like padding on the sides. So he'd land this huge net on the canopy and just like the surface tension would hold it there. And then it was so big that humans could walk around on the net, reach through and like sample species. And so he had this ingenious way because otherwise, I can spend four hours climbing to the top. I, basically, tried climbing to the top of a tree. You're at the base of this giant tree that's the size of a living room and it's got vines coming down. It's like I can climb up 20 feet, put in some gear, climb up another 20 feet, put in some gear, and you do that until you're all the way up. But then at the top, the branches at the crown of that tree, I mean, you're talking about like full grown, mature oak trees, like huge trees. Like we don't even have trees like that. Those are the branches of these trees. It's like Avatar. We can like run around on the branches up there.
[00:08:17] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:08:18] Paul Rosolie: And you start seeing animals that like you don't see on the ground. I've literally had a monkey look at me and just be like, what? Like what are you doing?
[00:08:24] Jordan Harbinger: What is this hairless monkey doing here?
[00:08:26] Paul Rosolie: They're like, how did you get here?
[00:08:28] Jordan Harbinger: Man, the jungle is, is just absolutely wild. I want to back up a little because people are like, "Wait, this guy lives in the jungle. What's happening right now?" So you live there and you do, what do you do all day? If you're not just catching food hunter-gathering, right? You're not George of the Jungle. What's your day-to-day work in the jungle like?
[00:08:44] Paul Rosolie: I work in the jungle because when I was 18 years old, I went as a research assistant with an indigenous guy who was trying to protect this river. And at the time, I was like, this sounds like a great idea. I did not realize that we'd be fighting the global systemic forces of capitalism that are ripping through the region and tearing out the trees. And so we started JungleKeepers to try and convince people to stop cutting down the trees, to stop the illegal gold mining. This is the Western Amazon, so it's one of the wildest places on earth. And so you have undiscovered medicines, tribes that have never seen the outside world, more biodiversity than anywhere else, and it's the most biodiverse terrestrial habitat that has ever existed on Earth, not just today, but in the fossil record.
[00:09:23] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:09:23] Paul Rosolie: So there's more life here than anywhere else, period. And it's the engine that runs the Amazon. And so we've set up JungleKeepers and it's our organization and we've basically started employing loggers to stop being loggers and to start being conservation rangers. And so—
[00:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: Huh.
[00:09:37] Paul Rosolie: —we go up and we do work in the remote communities. We're doing camera shot trap studies, we're going in interviewing active loggers, monitoring deforestation. So we're moving around the jungle, and everything that we're doing is based on either filming and storytelling to get the message out to the world, or studying and proving what an incredible place this is and actively protecting it and working with the communities there. So it's a lot of wildlife and it's a lot of like interfacing with the indigenous people there.
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: And the loggers are just down to become ranger. Is it like, "Oh, I just need money, I don't necessarily care about logging"?
[00:10:10] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:10:10] Jordan Harbinger: "I just need a job. And that's the job they have."
[00:10:12] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. And this is one of the fascinating things that Instagram has taught me, because I'll post a picture of like a guy with a chainsaw cutting down a tree and people instantly, instantly be like, "Burn that guy alive. Like human greed."
[00:10:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:22] Paul Rosolie: That person's awful. And I'm like, dude, like that's Pedro. Like Pedro's the man. Pedro is doing that because he doesn't know how to feed his family and logging pays him 30 soles a day. And if we pay him 60 soles a day and double his income, he'd be happy to, because this is the thing, logging his dangers. You're out in the jungle for weeks on end. This giant tree is falling. You're working with chainsaws, usually barefoot. And half the time it's illegal. So you got law enforcement going after you. And so when you offer them, you're like, "Hey look, there's going to be a bunch of gringos coming. And like all they want to do is walk around and go, wow. Can you help us with that?" And they're like, "I could help you with that." And then they're like, "Hey, by the way, my dad taught me all the like local medicines and I know how to track Jaguars and I know how to do all this stuff. because I've been in the jungle my whole life." And then they have this skill set that they're stoked to share. And so that transition's actually very easy if you just offer, I mean, pretty much for anybody, if you came up to any, I would imagine if you came up to anybody, if it's not their passion project, and you said, "Look, I'm going to double your salary, but you got to do this other job that's easier than the job you're doing now." That's a pretty good deal.
[00:11:23] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:24] Paul Rosolie: And so that's really what we've started doing with JungleKeepers is just going up to these people. This one guy that works with us, his name is Victor. He was a major logger man. I mean, he knows everything. He's been everywhere. He's been shot at by the uncontacted tribes. I mean, he's as hard as they come. And one day, we were like, we need a boat driver. And he was like, "Yeah, I know the rivers." And we were like, "All right, let's go." So he drove and then we were like having so much fun with this guy. And you know, we'd be fishing and he'd be like, "The reason they keep taking your hook is because you're not doing it with this knot." And we'd be like, "Huh?" He'd know. He'd be like, "Don't drink that water. Drink this water. Like cut this bamboo. It has better-tasting water than that bamboo." And we were like, "Man, this guy's awesome." I'm like, "How long did you spend out there?" And he was like, "Oh, my whole life I've been logging. I've been up on this river and that river and this river." And he gives you all those old logging stories. And then, we gave him the talk. We were like, "Look, next week we got a crew of people coming on here." You know, you pull out your phone, you show him some pictures and they're like, "Huh?" And we're like, "Could you just drive the boat for us? You know, just take us around. We're going to take them to the waterfall. We're going to take them here, we're going to show them our rangers." And he was just like, "Yeah, okay. I could do that."
[00:12:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like, wait, so take a bunch of cute white chicks from Miami—
[00:12:26] Paul Rosolie: Exactly.
[00:12:27] Jordan Harbinger: —into the—
[00:12:27] Paul Rosolie: Exactly.
[00:12:28] Jordan Harbinger: —jungle and like roast stuff and tell stories and show off. Or cut down trees and get attacked by stuff and get bit up and maybe get as severely injured and then drag this big ass log back to wherever. No, thanks. Yeah. This is great. Like, where do I sign?
[00:12:45] Paul Rosolie: Yes.
[00:12:45] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting that you do that. I didn't realize it was like a sales job for you to recruit the locals.
[00:12:51] Paul Rosolie: Dude, in order to convince people to not cut down the rainforest. You're basically standing in the way of a lot of people making money. And in order for me to be able to survive doing that, you have to be such a good salesman. I could sell water to a drowning guy. Like you have to be able to be like, look, I know that they're going to cut the rainforest down.
[00:13:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:10] Paul Rosolie: But if you just help us, if you just give us a little bit of money and if you just give us a little bit of resources we could protect — it's such a hard sell on people because you're up against such a huge threat. You're basically fighting the way things are going. Like we're losing habitats, we're losing ecosystems. And it's like, this is going to be the last decade where we can turn that around. To get people to invest in that risky of a thing is, uh, you, you have to be a good salesperson. And for the loggers, and that's where I think the thing that has set this whole project apart is that a lot of the people that go down there are like, "You know, like these PhD students, they all go to the same six places. They go to a couple different, like biological stations and they walk around on the trails and it's safe and they would cook and there's regulations." And it's like, we always would drive by those guys and it'd be like, we'd be in a canoe and I'd be with the local guys and they'd have a deer that they just shot in the canoe and we'd drive by with guns and bare feet and sh*t. And we'd like wave to them. And then, you'd just see them be like, huh. But it's like, well, they're doing that and they're writing papers. I mean, these people come down and they write papers for 20 years on like an obscure species of bat that only lives in one species of palm. And it's like, great. But are you actually protecting the rainforest from being destroyed?
[00:14:20] Now, sometimes those biological surveys go into a petition that's going to the government that's proving how much biodiversity is in an area. But we've had far better strategic success with really just showing people how incredible it is. It's like you have the surrounding, in our region, you have the surrounding national parks. You have Alto Purús National Park, you have Manú National Park, you have the Tambopata Reserve. You have some indigenous reserves. So we know this place is called the Crown of Biodiversity. It's called Peru Capital of Biodiversity. So we know that we already have all the biological surveys and our spot is right in the middle of all that. So the ecosystem connectivity, we're drawing from all of those places, which makes our region even more biodiverse. And the thing that kept people away from it was the fact that it's dangerous that there was illegal loggers, uncontacted tribes, gold miners.
[00:15:03] And so all those scientists who were safe, weren't going up to the Las Piedras River and so, because I was in with the local guys, they didn't care.
[00:15:11] Jordan Harbinger: That's so interesting. Yeah. We, where I was, was the Tambopata that you just mentioned.
[00:15:15] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Yeah. It's beautiful.
[00:15:16] Jordan Harbinger: It was really cool. And there was not a lot of people there, I'll tell you that. I mean, when we were on the boat, we were going for hours and you'd pass in occasional, there'd be a like a little boat and a little something, and they're like, "Oh, that's another lodge." And it would be really small or it'd be far. But then, we kept going and we're like, "Wow, there's not any more of those that we saw." It's like, no, no, no. We're three hours away from a lot of these other guys. Even from where we were, we'd go up three hours from the river and they'd say like, "Hey, you can't actually even get off the boat here because it's protected and there's nothing to get up. Where would you go? There's no trails here. There's nothing."
[00:15:53] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, there's no trails. If there's not a trail, you're not going anywhere. That's what people—
[00:15:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:57] Paul Rosolie: You can't do anything. Were you at TRC by any chance?
[00:16:00] Jordan Harbinger: That's a really good question. I'm not actually, not even—
[00:16:02] Paul Rosolie: You don't remember?
[00:16:02] Jordan Harbinger: —sure. Yeah. Where we stayed the actual, quote-unquote, "hotel," and I put that in air quotes, where we stayed was really awesome. It had all open rooms. You'd have a door to the hallway, which was open, but your other wall was not there.
[00:16:19] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:16:19] Jordan Harbinger: It was just a railing. And the only room that was sort of enclosed was the shower, but it didn't matter because there were still holes in the floor. So you'd go in the shower — this is still giving me the jeebies. You'd go in the shower and there'd be a big spider in there.
[00:16:31] Paul Rosolie: Oh, yeah.
[00:16:32] Jordan Harbinger: Getting a little water.
[00:16:33] Paul Rosolie: Oh, yeah.
[00:16:33] Jordan Harbinger: And I felt bad because I'd have to call the guys and I'd be like, "Can you get the spider out of my shower?" And he'd laugh at me and then he'd go in the shower and go, "Wow, okay. That's a real spider." Because it's as big as my palm.
[00:16:43] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:16:44] Jordan Harbinger: You know, big ass tarantula.
[00:16:45] Paul Rosolie: We had toilet tarantula for a while, so in one of the research stations, we actually had like running toilets and there was this tarantula and she would sit under the seat.
[00:16:53] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:16:54] Paul Rosolie: And so what happened is like, everybody go in there, guys would go in there and flip the seat up, and she would get scared and just like, jump over the toilet. And she'd be like, covering the hole. And you just hear the shout and you'd be like, oh—
[00:17:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:17:05] Paul Rosolie: —that's her. Yeah. And then we've had toilet frogs. She was a pain in the ass. She kept getting flushed and she kept coming back.
[00:17:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Toilet frogs. We had toilet frogs. We had agouti in my wall.
[00:17:16] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:17:16] Jordan Harbinger: Which is like a giant rat kind of thing.
[00:17:18] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:17:18] Jordan Harbinger: And the way we found that was, I was trying to take a nap and I go, "Hey Clint, what are you looking for?" And he'd go, "What do you mean? That's not you?" And I'm like, "No. Are you looking through a bag?" And he is like, "No, I thought you were looking through a bag."
[00:17:31] Paul Rosolie: The rustling, uh-huh, yeah.
[00:17:32] Jordan Harbinger: It was in the wall between our rooms and then we both immediately could not sleep because we're like, what the hell is between our rooms in the bamboo walls? And we had to call the guys because we're like, that's a real animal in there.
[00:17:43] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, no, they're big. They're big and they got some teeth on them and they love to just use them all the time. Bamboo rats, agoutis, capybaras, I mean, the rodents are well represented down there.
[00:17:52] Jordan Harbinger: We saw some rats that were as big as dogs just walking around eating stuff. And not at the hotel, but just in the jungle.
[00:17:59] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, yeah.
[00:18:00] Jordan Harbinger: Just walking around and you go, "Well, that's a rat." Like, it's way bigger than any New York City rat. And New York City rats are pretty big.
[00:18:06] Paul Rosolie: I mean, everything in the Amazon — anacondas, giant anteaterers, black came and — everything is outsized big. I mean, there's some serious gigantic going on out in the jungle.
[00:18:18] Jordan Harbinger: I want to talk about all that stuff. One thing that really freaked me out though was the first night we were there. We had no warning about this. I mean, they're like, "Oh, yeah, there's monkeys." Okay. It was probably 4:00 a.m. as you know, there's no lights.
[00:18:29] Paul Rosolie: Nope.
[00:18:29] Jordan Harbinger: And even the hotel was like, "Well, we're shutting—" it's solar powered, there's batteries but it's like for the emergency nightlight that you have when you can't find the light that you strap on your head and you have to pee.
[00:18:39] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:18:40] Jordan Harbinger: There's only just that. And you can't charge your phone or anything from this electricity. These are just little battery-operated lights. So there's no lights. There's no light pollution, there's no noise from people. And you wake up and it's like three or four in the a.m. and you hear [growling sound] and it sounds like it's in your room.
[00:19:01] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:19:01] Jordan Harbinger: And it's a — I forget what. Is it a howler monkey?
[00:19:04] Paul Rosolie: Howler monkey, yeah.
[00:19:04] Jordan Harbinger: And they're just marking their territory. And you just think that must be the size of a gorilla. And it's actually funny because it's not.
[00:19:11] Paul Rosolie: No, it's a lot of fun when kids are in the jungle because a lot of people, especially people that actually go to the rainforest, like seem to know what a howler monkey is, but like, especially with kids, when you go, "What do you think that sound is?" And they'll just be like, "Tyrannosaurus rex."
[00:19:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:25] Paul Rosolie: Something horrendous. Like, is that a dragon breathing fire? Like its sound fills the space and it's like they're just calling to each other. It's such a beautiful sound. We love that.
[00:19:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's a little unnerving on day one.
[00:19:38] Paul Rosolie: Yes.
[00:19:38] Jordan Harbinger: By day seven, you're like, "Ah, feels good. Like, ah, those are just the neighbors."
[00:19:42] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Well, the thing is, spider monkeys will make sounds a lot like people being murdered. Like when two spider monkey tribes are fighting, they'll get together in the trees and they'll start screaming at each other. But the sound that they make is very human. And when you're out there, you know, there's the uncontacted tribes and we've all heard stories of them murdering people. And that happens pretty regularly. And there was one day where I had never heard the spider monkeys go at it. And this was early on and there was one day the spider monkeys were screaming and like everyone at camp pretty much picked up a bag and was like running for the boat. They were like, it's happening. Like this is happening. We're going to die today. And of course, that guy, Victor, the logger, he's told us some horrendous stories of ambushes that where everybody ended up dead. And so we all have these things playing in our heads all the time. And so we heard that sound and everybody was just like, "Go the river save for children?" Like—
[00:20:31] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:20:32] Paul Rosolie: Full on, yeah. And then like JJ walked out and was like, "Guys, spider monkeys. It's okay."
[00:20:37] Jordan Harbinger: You've mentioned uncontacted tribes quite a few times in how they murder people. What's going on there? Uncontacted tribe is, I assume exactly what it sounds like.
[00:20:45] Paul Rosolie: Now, we have to call them voluntarily, nomadic, indigenous peoples or something like that. But everybody just calls them uncontacted tribes. So during the rubber boom or turn of the century in 1900s, all of a sudden we needed rubber for hoses, gaskets, tires, to fuel the industrial revolution. And the rubber trees were only in the Amazon at that point, so they had to send people down to go extract rubber from the trees.
[00:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:21:08] Paul Rosolie: And so what happened was you had these, I guess, American rubber barons going down there, and they tried to farm rubber. That didn't work. If you make a rubber plantation, if you monoculture rubber trees, it ends up just, there's a leaf blight that gets in, and it's like farming problems. It just, it destroys the whole plantation, so it doesn't work. Henry Ford went down there and started Fordlândia where he tried to do this on a large scale, didn't work, absolute failure. But what they did do was launch one of the worst genocides in human history where all these rubber barons went down there and they started whipping, burning, raping, pillaging the local people, just shocking them into submission. And then, being like, "You are going to go out and you are going to get the rubber for us." And they'd send these tribes people out into the jungle and make them tap the rubber trees.
[00:21:51] And so some of the tribes were conquered by sheer, brutal force. And then some of the more remote tribes were basically like, "That is not going to happen to us." And these are already tribes that are living in severe isolation. People that from year to year would see nobody from the outside world still living naked in the jungle, still had bows and arrows. And what they did was just sort of back up. And they were like, "We are not going to be conquered. We are not going to be destroyed." And they moved further back into the jungle, into like the valleys that nobody can reach by river. And the headwaters of the Las Piedras is one of the places where that happened. And so these uncontacted, they're spread out all over the Amazon.
[00:22:28] There's just an article in the New York Times about remote tribes being destroyed by gold mining.
[00:22:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I saw that. I wanted to talk about that.
[00:22:34] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:22:35] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny, it came out like a few days ago.
[00:22:37] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Here's the interesting thing, because they were treated in a time of extreme violence, basically war. And so the adults would've told the children, "Watch out for the outside world. They are trying to kill you. Here are some horror stories that happened. This person was set on fire, this entire village was burned." All of this crazy stuff. So those kids would grow up and understand that the outside world is extremely dangerous. "They are not us. They're not the same as us. They want to destroy us. And so if the outside world comes to us, like if loggers come in, we shoot them." And the thing is, these people don't have laws. They're out in the wild, living naked. And so, there's no consequences. I mean, they've shot people just to see their stomach contents.
[00:23:14] But last August, and this one did not make it out of the jungle like this was on like the little WhatsApp network, just like locally.
[00:23:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:22] Paul Rosolie: I think it was three loggers went up a small tributary that no one should be going up because we all know where the tribes are. And these guys went up this tributary, and the tribes got to them and the loggers had the chainsaws out and they did not hear anything coming. And the tribes will speak using animal calls. They will speak like capuchin monkeys and they have an extra dialect, like they have their speaking voice, and then they can actually use animal calls for basic call signs. And they will coordinate and position themselves around you using capuchin, tinamou, various animal calls. And they surrounded these loggers, shot them full of arrows. And then somebody flying over actually saw the boat, and of course, the people's family, eventually, like days later, somebody went out looking for these guys. And what circulated on the WhatsApp network was the photos of the bodies laying on the beach. And they were all bloated and they've been ripped apart by maggots and the skulls are coming out. It was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. And this arrow's laying on the beach.
[00:24:16] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:24:17] Paul Rosolie: It's like watching a bullfight. Everybody's hoping that the matador gets destroyed. Like we're all like—
[00:24:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:21] Paul Rosolie: You know what? The tribes, they're as far back into the jungle as you can go. And they're only asking to be left alone. So pretty much when this happens, "We're all, yeah. Good for them."
[00:24:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I guess, I mean, it sucks for the loggers, but they also are doing this, and it's illegal.
[00:24:34] Paul Rosolie: It's illegal. They know what they're doing. They know they're invading on the tribal land and that's exactly why there's still big good trees up there. So all parties know what they're getting into in that situation. And these poor, you know, for these tribes, I mean, if somebody says, "Look, just leave me alone. I'm moving up to the side of a mountain," and you go up there and start harassing them, I mean that's, that's on you.
[00:24:52] Jordan Harbinger: What if you get lost and they find you? Are they just going to be like, oh, let's slice this guy into little pieces?
[00:24:57] Paul Rosolie: Pretty much. There was a guy a couple of years ago that had actually made contact with them, and what he would do is he would hike into the jungle and he knew that at a certain type of time of year, they'd be, because they're nomadic, so they're not always in the same spot, but at a certain time of year, they'd be moving through this one area. And so he would go there and he'd leave like two machetes, a shirt, and some bananas. And like, it's very hard to get fruit in the jungle. Even though there is lots of fruit, the monkeys, the birds, all the animals, they get to it first. But this guy would go leave them some gifts and so he'd leave them gifts. They knew where to come for the gifts. And then when he like kind of habituated them that to know that there was going to be gifts here, he would be sitting there while they took the gifts and they would see him. And then it got to the point where like people spoke of it in the region that he was able to interact with them. And they don't speak a language that anybody really knows. And so he would sort of just be like using hand signals and just be very gentle. And they have seven foot bow and arrows, like they have huge, and they use bamboo tips for mammals. They have a serrated palm arrowhead for fish because then it'll go into the fish and now come back out. They're very complex. Like people will call them like paleolithic stone age tribes. And it's like, no, these are modern tribes by the fact that they're alive right now. They're actually brilliantly smart. They can live naked in the jungle without having their bodies ripped apart by botflies. They have medicinal technologies that we don't even know about. But this guy developed a relationship with them, was leaving them gifts, only being positive to them. He would actually go out and speak about it. He would speak to the Ministry of Culture. He was very respected. And then they found him one day with several arrows sticking out of his body and he was murdered.
[00:26:29] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. There's no ingratiating yourself with these tribes or anything?
[00:26:33] Paul Rosolie: Nope. This is like Tarantino would love this. I forget when this happened, and I believe it was in Ecuador, but a bunch of missionaries found an uncontacted tribe and they landed a plane and they like put t-shirts on them. They took the chief up in the plane. The tribe was like, "This is weird. Like, what is going on with these outside people?" And they were like, "Have you heard about Jesus?" And like the tribe was like, "Ahh-shh.". And then these missionaries had to leave. So they took the plane and they left and they have a journal entry from this one guy and he's like, "I hate to spend another Christmas when these people haven't been brought into the warm embrace of our Lord. And we have to get back there and we have to teach them the way and all this stuff." And so they go back with the plane and they land the plane and I think they were like giving them popcorn and sh*t. Like they were just like showing them everything from the outside world and they handed the tribe a photograph. And they're like, "This is what it's like where we live." And the chief looked at the photograph and was like, "I see people, but there's nothing behind this. This is witchcraft." And he just want to kill everybody.
[00:27:31] Jordan Harbinger: Because he couldn't see, he's like, "A two-dimensional person? No, no. This is a window into another dimension. It's going to—"
[00:27:36] Paul Rosolie: Exactly.
[00:27:37] Jordan Harbinger: "—suck us in there. Murder all of these people right now."
[00:27:39] Paul Rosolie: Kill them all.
[00:27:40] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:27:40] Paul Rosolie: And so they murdered like six missionaries I think. And of course, you know, days later somebody came and saw the plane and saw the bodies sprawled out. And then like a decade later, you know, roads going to the Amazon, these people were actually contacted taught Spanish and somebody interviewed them about this a decade later and they're like, "Yo, why'd you murder those missionaries?" And they're like, "Yo, that was scary as hell." They're like, "We didn't know what was going on. They had this giant flying metal bird, they had photos of two-dimensional freak pictures. They were like, we just decided it would be safer to kill."
[00:28:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:10] Paul Rosolie: They're like, "We were just looking out for ourselves.
[00:28:12] Jordan Harbinger: That's crazy. I wondered how you knew why they got killed, but there it is, right? They confirmed it.
[00:28:18] Paul Rosolie: They confirmed it themselves. They were like, yeah, it seems like a good idea at the time.
[00:28:21] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds brutal and I guess that it is, but at the same time, when you live in the Amazon and things can eat you and things eat each other and things are fighting all the time and there's 10-inch thorns on plants and things are poisonous, or put you on a psychedelic trip that you touched or ate by mistake or on purpose, it probably gives you like a little, just, you have that sort of primal edge. It's not going to go anywhere.
[00:28:47] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. I mean, it's funny because it does remind me, working in the Amazon and then coming back, it's like, when you talk to veterans who've been in wartime situations, and it's like the things they talk about. Like, I'll hear some of my guys, like, I work with this organization called Vet Pod, and it's like, those guys all have combat stories. And like, you sit there going, "So how is this your reality? Like, this sounds brutal." And they're like, "This was every day." You know, they just get used to a, a set of realities that, that you just aren't exposed to in suburbia. You know, in the Amazon, it's like, yes — like, you know, I just told somebody, I was just telling somebody about how loggers murdered a friend of mine, and I said it kind of off the cuff and they just, they stopped me and they were like, "Wait, like actually your friend?" And I was like, "Yes." And they were like, "Murdered?" And I was like, yes. And like, this sh*t happens. Like our lawyer's father stood up to the illegal gold miners and they murdered him. There was a nun, not too far, this was going back a little bit, but there was a nun, Sister Dorothy Stang, I think, and she was like working with the indigenous people, trying to convince the loggers not to destroy everything. And she spoke out about it and she was really trying to hit the local politicians. And so they just sent like a death squad and they just like put two in the stomach, one in the head, and then took care of her. Like they didn't care that she was an old lady.
[00:30:03] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Paul Rosolie. We'll be right back.
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[00:33:07] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these authors, thinkers, creators, these amazing folks every single week, it's because of my network, the free course. I've beaten you guys to death of this thing. Jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. Uh, I don't want to harp on this one too much. It's a fun conversation. Let's get back to it.
[00:33:25] I actually heard about this from our guides at the lodge that we were at, because they all lived in the jungle. These are guys that live in villages nearby. They're not dudes from Lima who like come down there to—
[00:33:35] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:33:35] Jordan Harbinger: —do tours because we saw gold miners and we're like, "Do you ever interact with those people?" And they're like, "No." It's a coin flip if they're dangerous, I guess with the gold miners.
[00:33:44] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:33:44] Jordan Harbinger: Like if they know the guy because he is from a village, they're same village or a village nearby and he just happens to work there. They might be like, "Oh hey, man, guy that I knew from growing up." But if it's just a guy they've never met, they're like, "Yeah, we don't know who those guys are."
[00:33:57] Paul Rosolie: No.
[00:33:57] Jordan Harbinger: They live in a camp nearby. We don't go anywhere near them. They bring their family there, they stay here and they screw up everything. And I don't know, they're armed. We're not going to go like chatted up with these guys.
[00:34:07] Paul Rosolie: No, you got to be very, very careful with the gold miners. Like you just do not approach them because that's turned into a whole wartime situation. I mean, if you go up the Trans-Amazon Highway from Puerto Maldonado, there's actually, we went up there with Matt Gutman from NBC and we got allowed into and there were some Russian miners somehow. I didn't even know there was Russian miners down there.
[00:34:27] Jordan Harbinger: Russian miners? They're long way from home.
[00:34:30] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, they were a long way from home. But they got us in past the security gates of the gold mining place called La Pampa. And it's literally a multi-hundred-kilometer desert that they've created in the Amazon rainforest. They've cut down the trees.
[00:34:46] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:34:46] Paul Rosolie: They've burned the trees, they've sucked up the soil, they've extracted the gold. There's like mercury pollution all over the place. And there are men with machine guns guarding the gates to the roads that lead to these places. And so we actually got in there, we're flying a drone around, and one of the Russian guys comes up to me and he goes, "You are Paul Rosolie, right?" And I was like, "Yeah."
[00:35:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:04] Paul Rosolie: And he goes, "You should not use Instagram the way you do." And I was like, "What?" and he goes, "Those gold miners, they follow you on Instagram." He goes, "I just heard them say your name." And he is like, "They're looking at you and they know what you're here for." And I was like, "Great."
[00:35:17] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:35:18] Paul Rosolie: And to his credit, he was like, "Look, why don't you land the drone and we'll we're going to get out of here." And I was like, "Okay."
[00:35:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:24] Paul Rosolie: But it was like they knew who I was and I was like, "This is creepy."
[00:35:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. The wrong kind of fame.
[00:35:29] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:35:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's really scary. Yeah. We The gold miners—
[00:35:32] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:35:32] Jordan Harbinger: —for people who've never heard of this, because it seems like, oh, you've got this huge hole in the ground or whatever. A lot of these guys, they were just on literally what looked like six canoes lashed together. It's a tiny barge. There's a conveyor belt-type pump thing on it, and they just pump crap loads of soil and dirt through it. And most of it goes back into the water. And I guess they're just looking for gold powder or little nuggets. I don't even know how it works. It looks really inefficient and bad.
[00:36:03] Paul Rosolie: It is extremely inefficient and I believe that the quality of the gold that they're extracting is actually pretty crap. The soil of the Amazon is clay and sand. And so the gold does not come in nuggets. It comes in sediment. You know, friends of mine will get some sand in their hand and they'll like look for it and they'll be like, "Oh, there's gold in there." And it's like you can barely see it.
[00:36:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:21] Paul Rosolie: So what these guys are doing is the more land that you suck through that hose and throw onto that conveyor belt, the more potential gold you're harvesting. But it's a numbers game. You have to cover acres and acres and acres to get just a little bit of gold. And then with the gold falling with the heaviest sediment to the bottom, they use mercury to mix it all up and the gold binds to the mercury. And then you get this chunk of gold mixed with mercury. And then what these guys do is they use like a blow torch and they burn off the mercury, which lets it into the air. And then once it's in the air it gets, of course, the Amazon, every day you're just seeing the giant pump.
[00:36:52] You can literally watch like the sweat from your skin come off you. You can watch the mist coming off the jungle and it goes up into the thunderclouds and by afternoon it's raining back down into the river and then we're drinking the river and it's coming right back out of our skin and doing the thing. You're a part of the ecosystem down there. And so when you're allowing mass quantities of mercury to join that system, all of a sudden you have people that have like three times the mercury level that the EPA says is even humanly possible. Like you have people coming out with birth defects, it's gone through the ecosystem. So this is a major environmental tragedy and the police in Peru are not able to get into those desert areas because you have machine gun-wielding, teams of gold miners that have like unionized and organized. And the cops know that they'll be murdered if they go anywhere near there. So it's a major problem.
[00:37:36] And then on top of that, because there's vast teams of men marauding across the Amazon rainforest, what do they do? There are scouts that go into the indigenous villages and they'll like offer young girls a job in the city. And so there's a, ends up being a huge human trafficking problem where they're grabbing these girls and starting these brothels in the gold mining areas. And so it's complete environmental devastation. It's human trafficking, it's species lost, it's environmental pollution. It's like it's all concentrated in this area. And it's like as soon as you go there, you can feel it like in your gut. You just go there and it's like the sky looks darker.
[00:38:09] We went down the wrong road one time. And there was a floating barge and they had some like empty gas cans that were floating some sticks, and they had like a shack on there. And there's just these horrendous looking like Amazonian prostitutes with leishmaniasis on their necks, and they're all just like calling out to the men and floating in this mercury-infested water. It's dark. It's pretty dark. It's like something Vice would do a feature on, back when Vice was like, still cool.
[00:38:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Speaking of leishmaniasis.
[00:38:36] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:38:36] Jordan Harbinger: Tell us about what that is because actually, one, it's a super rare flesh-eating disease. Is that accurate?
[00:38:43] Paul Rosolie: That is accurate.
[00:38:44] Jordan Harbinger: But not rare enough because a guy got it on my trip.
[00:38:46] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. It's weird in the jungle, especially running an ecotourism thing, people are like, "Am I going to get by a snake?" I'm like, "No, a hundred percent." They're like, "Am I going to get shot by an arrow?" I'm like, "No." And I'm like, "But you might get a flesh-eating bacteria." Like—
[00:38:58] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[00:38:58] Paul Rosolie: —stays in your skin and you got to get almost chemotherapy to get it out. It's pretty rough and some people get it and some people don't. Like, some of my friends who've lived there their whole lives, they just don't get it. And then, I'll have like a tourist come and then they'll have like a little cigar burn-looking thing on their skin and it'll just keep growing. And then, you got to go deal with the horrendous treatment.
[00:39:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This guy got it on his face, which is the—
[00:39:21] Paul Rosolie: Oh no.
[00:39:22] Jordan Harbinger: —one of the worst places to get it. And yeah, it's a flesh-eating bacteria. And he lived in Panama. He wasn't Panamanian, he is a Chinese dude. But he went to the hospital and they're like, "Wow, where did you get this?"
[00:39:34] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, yeah.
[00:39:35] Jordan Harbinger: Amazon.
[00:39:36] Paul Rosolie: Dude, no, no, no. That's a whole other like echelon of street cred in the Amazon because then you come home—
[00:39:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:42] Paul Rosolie: And you go to the infectious disease doctor — this is the sh*t that people in my profession talk about — you go to the infectious disease doctor and when they bring in like the, what do they call the fellows or the interns, when they bring in the doctors in training?
[00:39:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. The residents or whatever.
[00:39:54] Paul Rosolie: The resident, yeah.
[00:39:55] Jordan Harbinger: Take a look at this.
[00:39:57] Paul Rosolie: Yep. I once had tularemia and the doctor was like, "Do you mind if I show this to some people?" And I went, "No." And he brought in like a team of all these students and they were all like looking over their clipboards, like, "Whoa." And he was like, "This is the only time you're ever going to see this." He's like, "I've never seen it." And he's like, "It's a rare tick-borne illness that goes through rabbits, lives in India, and then it manifests with like a horrendous infection on the elbow, on the right elbow." And they were all like—
[00:40:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:21] Paul Rosolie: —scribbling the sh*t down. And I was like, "Doc, what do we do?" And they put me on the strongest antibiotics that they had. This is New York City, like the best infectious disease doctors like in the world. They worked on me for like two months and I couldn't get out of bed. I had no energy. I had this horrendous soupy pit, like if you took the top off a bottle of Coca-Cola, it was about that deep in my arm of just green puss.
[00:40:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:40:43] Paul Rosolie: And my whole system was fighting this and I had this horrendous thing and I went back to the jungle and I remember at the time my parents were like, "Do not go in the jumble with the horrendous infection. Like, you're going to absolutely die."
[00:40:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:53] Paul Rosolie: And JJ who's my indigenous teacher of all things, took one look at me and was like, "You're sick." And I was like, Yeah. Look at my arm." And he looked at my arm and he was like, "That's so bad." And he was like, "Okay. We have to go for a walk." And I was like, "I can't walk. I'm sick." And he was like, "No, you have to walk." And we went to this tree and he cut it with the machete. He collected the sap. He slapped the sap on it and like you rub it and it almost makes like a latex seal over the wound.
[00:41:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:18] Paul Rosolie: So with the friction, it heats up and it changes the chemical composition of the wound. So he created a medicinal seal over the wound, then he went to the next tree and extracted that. That one had to drink three drops of. Three drops from medicine, five drops to kill you. So three drops. And then he went and boiled another plant and they were pouring that over me in buckets. And I kid you not 24 hours later I was cured.
[00:41:40] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:41:40] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. And the point of that story is that, you know, it's not like let's hold hands and say kumbaya, and maybe we're going to cure you with energy or some sh*t like that. There is heavy medicinal compounds running through the cambium of these trees, and we haven't discovered them all yet. And the people that are living there for the past few thousand years have a deeper insight into these medicines than any outside Western medicine does. And so preserving the cultural heritage that these indigenous healers have has become something that we're very, very concerned with doing because they know things like that. Like I've experienced it. I've seen them medically cure something that doctors were unable to do.
[00:42:18] Jordan Harbinger: Huh.
[00:42:18] Paul Rosolie: And these are just like guys on the side of the river.
[00:42:20] Jordan Harbinger: I guess it makes sense, right? Because if you're dealing with that for generations, you figure out way more than what it is. And these infectious disease guys are like, "Oh wow, I've only read about this in a book from a guy who was from Britain who went here and died from that.
[00:42:32] Paul Rosolie: Exactly.
[00:42:32] Jordan Harbinger: You know? So they don't really know.
[00:42:33] Paul Rosolie: No, they don't. And even something like a botfly, which for anybody that doesn't know a botfly is a, you know, it's basically a worm that goes and lives in your skin and the fly catches a mosquito, deposits its eggs. The mosquito goes and finds the host, which is a mammal, nice, warm, soft skin. And then, the mosquito deposits the eggs. The eggs are pretty much microscopic. It burrows down into your skin and then, all of a sudden you'll be sleeping one night and you'll just feel like that twitch. And a lot of time it'll be like, because the mosquitoes go for like your tricep, your back, behind the leg where you're not going to slap them. So it's like these off areas and it'll like, I get them, I always get them like on my shoulder. And you'll just feel this twitch and you'll be like sh*t. And then the things start growing quickly and when they're feeding, you can feel it because they're actually eating you.
[00:43:14] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[00:43:14] Paul Rosolie: They're like mining your tissue. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they'll grow and I've let them get as thick as like a pencil.
[00:43:19] Jordan Harbinger: As long as a pencil or as thick as a pencil?
[00:43:21] Paul Rosolie: No, no, no. As thick as a pencil, as thick as a pencil.
[00:43:23] Jordan Harbinger: It's disgusting.
[00:43:24] Paul Rosolie: Long as a pencil? Sh*t that's through your body.
[00:43:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:26] Paul Rosolie: No, no, no. But they'll go about an inch deep.
[00:43:28] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:43:28] Paul Rosolie: And they get fat, like when they're a pencil thick, like they're fat.
[00:43:31] Jordan Harbinger: So you have like a maggot in your skin, a grub.
[00:43:34] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. If you've ever seen the movie Tremors? It's like having a Graboid in your skin.
[00:43:38] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:43:39] Paul Rosolie: And they stick up this little proboscis for air and they go back in. So in the Amazon, what we do is like you get somebody who can take a deep drag of a cigarette and then you blow it out and you actually get tar, like nicotine-laced tar on your hand. You scrape that off, you put it over the hole and the bug hates it. And so the bug will start freaking out and it hurts. And then you slap some, either Vaseline or will use like a rubber tree. You slap that on top of it to seal it off so he can't get oxygen. And then, they'll start coming further and further and further out trying to get oxygen.
[00:44:09] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:44:09] Paul Rosolie: And then that's when you rip off the seal, grab them with the tweezers, and then you need a third guy to pinch your skin. You got to get under the bug and like pinch it out and it's very painful. But this is like what we do at night. Like instead of watching American Idol, we'll like lay somebody flat on the table and try to extract all their botflies. It's fun because it hurts. There's a lot of blood and then you have like a hole in you. And then, we see who has the biggest botfly.
[00:44:31] Jordan Harbinger: That's vile. That's disgusting.
[00:44:34] Paul Rosolie: Yes.
[00:44:34] Jordan Harbinger: I wish I had warned people about that story before you told it because I think there's going to be people who are like, "Dude, I—"
[00:44:41] Paul Rosolie: Vomit warning.
[00:44:41] Jordan Harbinger: "—listened to that on my lunch hour. You've pricks."
[00:44:46] Paul Rosolie: I just threw up in my tuna sandwich.
[00:44:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There's people who are no longer eating lunch after that story. That's disgusting.
[00:44:52] Paul Rosolie: Oh, we're so sorry. Come to the Amazon with us. Help us protect the rainforest and I'll make you a fried piranha.
[00:44:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And you can get your own botfly and leishmaniasis infection.
[00:45:00] Paul Rosolie: That's right. You can get your own.
[00:45:02] Jordan Harbinger: You don't need to hear the story. You are part of the next story.
[00:45:05] Paul Rosolie: Come experience it for yourself.
[00:45:06] Jordan Harbinger: Some of the plants, man, must really be, we'll get to the insects too. I mean, we just sort of touched on that, but some of these plants are absolutely wild. You said three drops is medicine, five drops will kill you. I mean, I'm sure it's a little bit less, well, less exact than that.
[00:45:19] Paul Rosolie: Not as harsh as that.
[00:45:20] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, that must be something that kills just about everything if you can overdo it and with a few drops and you're dead.
[00:45:26] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. And the, the good thing about that is like if you get a normal infection, which is the jungle, it's hot, it's humid.
[00:45:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:32] Paul Rosolie: You always have cuts and scrapes and mosquitoes that you scratch. So you always have a lot of skin abrasions. And so we do get infections pretty regularly and like Neosporin doesn't cut it and you can't be living on cycles of antibiotics.
[00:45:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:45:46] Paul Rosolie: And so what we do is we just know which trees. We've literally planted the medicinal trees now at the research station.
[00:45:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:52] Paul Rosolie: And so they have all these machete scars in them because we always go there and be like, oh, I have a mosquito bite that looks funny and there's a little bit of pus coming out of it. And it's like, just go hit it with the machete, collect it in the spoon, you rub it over the thing, and the next day it's gone. They have cures for ear infections. They apparently have jungle Viagra.
[00:46:08] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:46:08] Paul Rosolie: I don't know anybody that's tried it, but the people talk about it like, "Whoa, you better be careful." They're like, "It could be too intense." And it's like they're very, very sure that this works. And so that's down there. Yeah, there's some crazy sh*t that they can do.
[00:46:21] Jordan Harbinger: The poisons from some of the insects and animals is crazy. I write in your book, there's a sap you can pour into a diesel engine and it works as fuel. That sounds almost impossible. How does that work?
[00:46:32] Paul Rosolie: It does sound almost impossible, but this particular tree has sap that's almost pure hydrocarbons and it'll actually burn in a diesel engine.
[00:46:39] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:46:39] Paul Rosolie: And then they have other things, like JJ broke his arm one time, and I've learned this. Okay. So when I went down, I'm from New York, so you know when somebody says, "Hey man, do you want to hear my mix mixtape?" You're like, "Get the f*ck away."
[00:46:49] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:46:49] Paul Rosolie: Like you don't want to, we just grow up not listening to sh*t. But JJ broke his arm and he wrapped it with these leaves, and then he wrapped it with gauze to hold the leaves on. And then at some point, he was like, "Hey, could you change the bandage? It's really hard to do with one hand." And I was like, "Yeah, sure." So I'm unwrapping it and this disgusting thing falls onto the floor. And I was like, "JJ, what just came out of your wound?"
[00:47:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:11] Paul Rosolie: He was stepping on cane toads and flattening them with his boot. And so he'd step on them from the back, so they would vomit up their own guts and then he would take the sack that used to be a toad, and they have a certain type of poison in their glands. And that poison apparently, when it's rubbed on your arm and allowed to infiltrate, promotes bone growth. Now, I know that sounds crazy, but—
[00:47:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:47:33] Paul Rosolie: There's also plants that elephants use to induce labor. There's also in a type of African frog that if a pregnant woman pees on it, it changes color. So there's some weird stuff out in nature that we forget how crazy it is. So the frog thing, I was like, okay, that sounds crazy. Like as a New Yorker I'm calling bullsh*t. But then at the same time, who am I to talk? Because I've seen them outfox us with medicines, you know, how many times.
[00:47:56] Jordan Harbinger: It does seem like some of it's probably not doing anything, but they don't know—
[00:48:00] Paul Rosolie: Probably.
[00:48:00] Jordan Harbinger: Because it's like, oh, your body heals up over time if it's healthy. So yeah, but the cane toad thing—
[00:48:05] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:48:06] Jordan Harbinger: Some of it's superstition, but some of it isn't. And it's like you don't know what's what.
[00:48:09] Paul Rosolie: You don't know. And that's sort of the thing like with ayahuasca, where they say like, okay, so the first, you have to mix this vine with this root and the two things together allow that — I don't get into it. I know a lot of people that are really into ayahuasca and they know the whole chemical process. But what I do find interesting and like ethnobotanists have talked about this, like Wade Davis wrote about it in One River and Mark Plotkin is really into it. And it's like, the fact that even if you took the 1,600 species of trees and then the billion species of other plants and orchids and lichens and all this other stuff that's out there and started mixing and matching chemical compounds in plants in the Amazon, even if you had God's Excel sheet, it would take you thousands and thousands of years to come up with this.
[00:48:53] So how did the tribes uncover the secret to ayahuasca? And that's where it gets into pretty much everyone that sort of lift off the ground into the like, well, it's the jungle trying to give us—
[00:49:03] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:04] Paul Rosolie: —insight into the spirit realm. Like the gods spoke to us through the plants. And it's like, however, you want to think about it, it's incredible that trial and error would take thousands of years and hundreds and hundreds of dead people to eventually get to this point where you have the right combination to set your mind into other dimensions.
[00:49:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There was ayahuasca planted around the area where we were, we know it was that because the guides told us what it was and there was a little sign that said Ayahuasca next to it.
[00:49:30] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:49:31] Jordan Harbinger: Like, "Hey, maybe don't put this in your salad" kind of sign.
[00:49:34] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:49:36] Jordan Harbinger: And there was a lot of really crazy stuff. I mean, when I was walking, I got a photo of this, this is really dope. It's a shaman headdress that was just laying on the ground.
[00:49:45] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:49:45] Jordan Harbinger: And I was like, wow, look at that. You know, I'm not superstitious, but I was like, ah, I probably should leave that there. It's a pretty cool find. Someone else could find it. And the guide was like, "You don't want to touch something like that," because he was more spiritual and he is like, "You don't want to touch that. The shaman didn't just forget that. That's there for a reason, you know?" And I thought, oh, that's probably a good point. It's not easy to make something like that. It's laying on the ground. It's there for a damn good reason. He's like, "You could take it, but you shouldn't take it." And I was like, I don't need a souvenir. I'd rather leave it for somebody else to discover because it's really incredible.
[00:50:15] Paul Rosolie: You could take it and then like a piano's going to fall out of the sky onto your head and you're going to go to like eight more arms, you know?
[00:50:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's going to be some final destination sh*t, right? Like, oh, look at this awesome souvenir.
[00:50:24] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. See, that's the thing.
[00:50:25] Jordan Harbinger: Way too many horror movies to try to do that.
[00:50:27] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. There's a, there's always that guy, you know, you get to the, the edge of King Tut's tomb and there's like a curse thing over the entrance. They're like, I'm sure it's fine. You go first.
[00:50:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:50:34] Paul Rosolie: You know, you try it. We want to see what happens. Yeah.
[00:50:38] Jordan Harbinger: So the loggers need jobs. The gold miners are there from all over the place, apparently, even also from Russia to steal the gold out of the Amazon. We heard there were narcos in the jungle. Obviously, we didn't see any. What are they doing? Just taking the road less traveled so that they don't get caught? What are they doing there?
[00:50:54] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, exactly. The border with Bolivia is right there. And so we're sort of like at a tribe border, like there's three frontiers.
[00:51:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:00] Paul Rosolie: And we have like Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia right there. And so it's such a lawless region that after that earthquake in Haiti, like hundreds and hundreds of Haitian people showed up in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. It was weird. It was like being in like Alaska and having like a bunch of people from Nigeria show up. It just, we were like, what?
[00:51:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:17] Paul Rosolie: But there was like hundreds of them all of a sudden and they were crowding the western unions trying to get all their money from their relatives and then they were trying to hop the border into Brazil and go. Because down there, there's no one to check. You can just go by river. And so the narcos, they have a couple of planes. I know a couple of guys that like used to do that work and they have some planes and you'll hear them at like four in the morning. And these like busted little old Cessnas, they'll be flying like a hundred feet over the jungle.
[00:51:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:43] Paul Rosolie: They'll come by but what they do that's brilliant and the reason that it's hard to catch them is that they will wait for a bend in the river. So picture this, you have a long stretch of river that's straight and then a sharp bend.
[00:51:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:57] Paul Rosolie: And what they'll do is they will deforest the jungle but keep enough canopy up top that from satellite imagery. It still looks like there's unbroken jungle, so you can't see their runway. And so they will drop down almost to water level and they will land under the trees and you have like 150-foot ceiling in the jungle. So it actually works.
[00:52:14] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:52:15] Paul Rosolie: And so they have secret runways out in the jungle and then that's how they do it. And then they'll come downriver by boat. And I ran into them once and I knew it was them because like the loggers don't travel at machine guns. Even the gold miners don't travel at machine guns. And I came down river in a raft and I'd been out for like a week and I was pretty starving and banged up and my food had all gone bad. And these guys, you know, they were all like armed to the teeth and they saw me and they were like looking and they were like, "Gringo, qué pasa?" And they're like, "What are you doing here?" And I was just like, "Do you guys have any food?"
[00:52:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:52:45] Paul Rosolie: I was like, or like a cigarette. I used to smoke in those days. I was like, "Do you guys got any cigarettes?" And they were all just like, "Yeah, we do." And I was like, "I can't pay you." And they were like, "Don't worry about it." And they thought it was funny. They were like, "What are you doing?" And I held up my camera. I was like, "National Geographic, National Geographic." And they were like, "Okay." And they're like, "You want some drugs?" And I was like, "No, I'm good on the drugs." I was like, "Give me the cigarettes and the rice. I'm out." They were perfectly nice, narco-traffickers.
[00:53:07] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. I feel like maybe you got lucky because if you said na, National Geographic, they might be like, Hey, the CIA guy's here. He's pretending he's out of food and wants a cigarette.
[00:53:16] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, there's a certain level of busted that you get after being out for a week In the jungle though, they looked at me and they were like, "Yeah, he's not a threat."
[00:53:24] Jordan Harbinger: He's not wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He's probably cool. Yeah.
[00:53:28] Paul Rosolie: I'm picturing, was it the Newman in Jurassic Park with the Hawaiian shirt?
[00:53:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:53:33] Paul Rosolie: And he's like _____
[00:53:35] Jordan Harbinger: Like a Gary Busey guy. Like, "Hey guys, I'm lost in the jungle."
[00:53:39] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, Gary Busey.
[00:53:39] Jordan Harbinger: "What are you doing? Carrying some cocaine. That's interesting. Let me get a photograph." Yeah, definitely not CIA.
[00:53:45] So it sounds like you've been lost in the Amazon, which is probably a really bad place to get lost.
[00:53:51] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. You know, Daniel Boone said something like, "I've never been lost, but I've wandered for weeks on end or something like that." I've voluntarily did some solo expeditions and my structure was, it was only possible because of these inflatable rafts that you can carry in your backpack. They're called pack rafts and there's a company out of Colorado called Alpacka Rafts, and they make stunning, like you can run Whitewater Rapids in these rafts that I have, and they're amazing, but you can stick them in your pack along with your tent and your food and your supplies. And the only weigh like five pounds. And then you strap your paddles to the outside and you get the paddles that break down into four pieces instead of just two. And you have a boat. And so you, I can go for a week into the jungle, go see places that no one can see, and I don't have to go with a motor and gasoline and other people and all the things that make an expedition into the most pristine parts, almost like sacrilegious. Like you don't want to be changing oil on a motor in some of these pristine areas where no one's been for 300 years or maybe has never been. And so for those areas, I feel like it's more respectful to go alone. And also when you have skin in the game, when you're out there and there's no help coming, there's no ambulance, there's no satphone, there's no nothing. Whatever happens out there happens, you're on a real expedition.
[00:55:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:01] Paul Rosolie: You're all in. And so when you're out there doing that, your focus, your mental clarity. You learn a lot about yourself. And then also it's just like you start smelling like the jungle and then the animals moving around you. And you can get to places where just like the Galapagos, the animals don't know what a human is, so they don't care.
[00:55:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:18] Paul Rosolie: Like a Jaguar just walk right by you and just look you in the face and be like, what's up?
[00:55:21] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:55:21] Paul Rosolie: Keep walking. They're not scared of us. And so I've been to these places and then what happens is when you run out of food or you get too scared or you run into the uncontracted tribes, you go to the river and you can inflate this rafts pretty quickly, and then you put your backpack on your lap. And those rafts, I mean, one time, we covered over 400 miles in I think five days. And that sounds like a lot in a non-motorized capacity to cover that in an expedition. But—
[00:55:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:47] Paul Rosolie: Maybe you're going like 10 kilometers an hour and it's like, so if you spend 10 hours on the river, you're doing some distance. And so it's just like repetitive days on the river. You can get from very remote back to civilization in a week, which is pretty cool out in the jungle.
[00:55:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:56:00] Paul Rosolie: Because there's place is out there that even with a motor, even with like an outboard motor, it'll take you three weeks to get there.
[00:56:06] Jordan Harbinger: Phew.
[00:56:06] Paul Rosolie: People don't realize how big the Amazon is. They don't realize it's as big as the continental US. Yes, there's deforestation. Yes, there's roads, but there are still pockets out there that are so wild that literally from century to century they have not seen a human. And then, there's areas, if you want to go even farther. You can go up this river, sure. But between the two rivers are 300 miles of completely unbroken rainforest with ancient trees. No one's ever been there. The tribes can't get there because it's too far from the familiar reference points that they have. No scientist has ever been there. You'd have to get helicopter dropped, repel down into the middle of nowhere and maybe do a biological survey for two days and then come back up. But maybe that's been done a few times in the Amazon, actually know a guy who does that, but the vast majority of those regions of the Amazon are still unexplored. And that's something that people have a hard time with. People go, "Oh yeah, everything's been explored today." It's like, no, everything's been mapped.
[00:57:02] We've mapped the Earth because we can see the Earth. Sure. But it's like once you get under the canopy, we don't know what's there. We don't know what communities of wildlife populations that we have never seen are still existing beneath those canopies. And until you see it for yourself, it doesn't, because I've heard people, like, as a matter of concepts, sitting around, you know, a table at the Explorers Club going, oh, they've already explored this, they've already explored that, da, da, da. It's like, no. They've gotten as far as like, oh, yeah, there's this set of valleys in a 300-acre area that exists inside this national park. That's fine. But has any scientist ever actually gone there and looked at what's going on there? Do we know if there are species there that we've never seen before? I mean, we see species that we've never seen before at the research station every day.
[00:57:42] I have entomologist friends that — I'll find like a crazy-looking bug. There's something that you can't even get it down to. No idea what genius the thing is in. And I'll send it to people and they'll write back and they'll be like, "Yeah, we don't have the name for that."
[00:57:53] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:57:54] Paul Rosolie: Or guys that have been out there for 35 years and they'll go, "Where did you find this? I've never seen that." It's like, well, yeah—
[00:57:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:59] Paul Rosolie: —you know, on top of a tree, da, da, da six hours deep into this one river. And they're like, yeah, no one's been up there.
[00:58:06] Jordan Harbinger: Even where we were, somebody found a bunch of new species of moths.
[00:58:09] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[00:58:10] Jordan Harbinger: They're like, oh, catch moths, because we catalog them and they're like, "You might find a new species." And I'm like, yeah, right. You know, whatever. Sure. And somebody on our trip found a new species and then we said, "Wow, how rare?" And they're like, Well, actually, every few weeks we find a new species of moth that nobody's ever seen."
[00:58:27] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Yeah. There's this book called One River, and it's about this ethnobotanist, Richard Evans Schultes, who's in the Amazon. It's by Wade Davis. It's an amazing book.
[00:58:35] Jordan Harbinger: Wade was supposed to go with us on our trip but something happened and he really couldn't make it. Yeah. Would've been something.
[00:58:40] Paul Rosolie: That would've been really something to go with Wade Davis on trip. He writes about the fact that, you know, Schultes described, I don't know, a few dozen new species being in the Amazon for all the years that he was. And they're saying if that was any North American botanist, it would've made his career to discover a new species, period. But when you work in the Amazon, it's like, yeah, of course, there's new species. I mean, the first year I went, I was flicking ants off of a tree and I was looking down and noticing that these ants were gliding back to the tree and they have like a like a fin on the outside of their exoskeleton that allows them to glide and they can actually get blown off the tree and then glide back. Gliding ants Scott describes that year. So I was like, I kind of made the discovery on my own and then somebody else who was probably older and more equipped and scientifically trained actually described them. But I was like, whoa, that kind of made it set in for me where it was like, no, pay attention to the things that are crawling around. Pay attention to the things that are sleeping in your boots.
[00:59:31] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:59:31] Paul Rosolie: Because they might be things. Like, you have people find snakes that you know, we go, "Is that venomous people?" "I don't know. No one's ever seen it. It's not any of the books. You got to open up its mouth and look for fangs.
[00:59:43] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Paul Rosolie. We'll be right back.
[00:59:47] This episode is sponsored in part by Scotts Turf Builder. Scotts Turf Builder makes lawn care easy. It gives your lawn the feeding it needs to thrive. Just put it down now and again next season to thicken your lawn. Crowd out, weeds, and keep it growing strong. Right now is the perfect time to feed and seed to build the perfect lawn for every season. When taking care of your lawn is this easy, enjoying your lawn is even easier. Pick up a bag of Scotts Turf Builder today. It's guaranteed or your money back. Feed your lawn, feed it.
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[01:02:36] Now back to Paul Rosolie.
[01:02:39] There were so many things, even just in our rooms that were bizarre. There was, I went in, I saw this huge grasshopper-looking thing and I went and got the guys and I was like," Hey, that's been there for like seven or eight hours. Is it dead?" And they're like, "No, but that's a pretty cool insect. That's a big one. You don't normally see ones that are that big. It will go away by tomorrow." And they were right, but not for the reasons that they thought. So overnight I heard squeaking and crunching and noise and I was like, that's definitely in my room. It's probably in the wall again.
[01:03:10] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:03:10] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I got up in the morning and that big ass grasshopper thing was dead on the floor of my room in a pool of gross, gooey blood. And there was an injured bat that was stuck in my bed. And so overnight a bat had come in and been like, "Oh, I'm going to eat that thing." But it met its match because it was bigger than the bat.
[01:03:31] Paul Rosolie: That was awesome.
[01:03:32] Jordan Harbinger: And the bat had bit off more than it could chew quite literally. And they both died. So the guys were like, "Oh, we'll get that when we cleaned the room. And I thought, I go, okay, whatever. It doesn't matter if it's on the floor. I'm walking around in sandals because it's the Amazon. I'm not walking around barefoot too often. They're going to clean it up. You know, they did a pretty good job cleaning tarantulas and other stuff out of our room. Because you'd wake up, there'd be like a tarantula on the top of your bed that had died at night and just died on your bed and they'd clean it up or cockroach the size of your fist. And so I come in and I thought, oh, they cleaned it up. But then I realize the pool of blood was still there, but the grasshopper thing was gone. So something else came in and ate the carcass. And what was really gross that I will never forget, was in that pool, was this wormy white thing. And it was moving.
[01:04:13] Paul Rosolie: You really have been to the jungle.
[01:04:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So I go and I get the guy and I'm like, "What is that?" And he goes, "Oh, it's a parasite that lives in the grasshopper-looking thing. That was in your room. So when it died and something else ate the carcass, that thing probably slithered out because it was like, "Oh, the host is dead. So it was looking for something else," and I was like, "Get that thing out of my room man. It's so gross." It's like a worm that lives in a thing that died on the floor that was murdered by another bat that they also had to remove from my room because it was injured and dead, you know, had died at overnight. Ugh.
[01:04:44] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Those are the nematodes.
[01:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:04:46] Paul Rosolie: And so when I went to the Amazon, you know, I was doing all this survival stuff and learning from the guys and I would take those huge grasshoppers, you know, like this big and just to freak people out or just take it.
[01:04:55] Jordan Harbinger: Bite it.
[01:04:56] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Just bite it and eat it, you know, and whatever. You could just do it. Bear grills made a whole career out it.
[01:05:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, true.
[01:05:02] Paul Rosolie: It just shocks people. It's funny because my uncle is a surgeon and he saw a video of that and he is like, "Very funny." He's like, "No, just don't do that though." And I was like, "God, it's fine." I was like, "Everything's clean in the jungle." He was like, "No, no, no." He's like, "They're filled with parasites."
[01:05:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:05:14] Paul Rosolie: And I was like, "What are talking about?" And then, I saw one, the way I learned exactly what you're saying was I saw this huge gargantuan Katie did thing, landed on a candle, got stuck in the wax, and as it was burning—
[01:05:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[01:05:28] Paul Rosolie: —all the nematodes came out of its ass.
[01:05:30] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[01:05:31] Paul Rosolie: And so all these worms started like exploding out of this thing, and we all watched them drop onto the floor. And so now that's a new pastime. Again, when we get done taking botflies out of each other. We'll take like a giant cockroach that's half dead from being eaten by something else, and you just dunk it in a glass of water and then once it gets saturated, the nematodes will crawl out of its body. And so you see like who can get the longest nematode, but they're pretty gross. They're very gross, but they usually don't bother us. Sometimes, we get them in our skin.
[01:05:57] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[01:05:58] Paul Rosolie: They'll get stuck in your skin and then you got to deal with that. It sucks. But yeah, you're part of the life cycle in the jungle for sure.
[01:06:05] Jordan Harbinger: Totally. It's alien stuff. Puerto Maldonado was the airport we flew into, which was pretty funny because—
[01:06:10] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, yeah.
[01:06:10] Jordan Harbinger: —it's like, it kind of looks inside like, oh, it's a decent sort of modernized Bush airport. And then, you walk outside and you realize you're just in this crappy metal box where planes land next to it.
[01:06:19] Paul Rosolie: You're literally in, it has two rooms, leaving and coming. That's it.
[01:06:22] Jordan Harbinger: What's so funny about this airport, you know what priority passes? It's like a credit card benefit where you, like you can go to like the Admirals Club when you're at LAX or whatever.
[01:06:31] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[01:06:31] Jordan Harbinger: So I walk in and my friend goes, "I wonder if they take priority pass. And as he makes this joke, there's this little sign that says Priority Pass. And I walk up to the woman and I go, "What is this?" And she goes, "Oh, we have a lounge." And I go, "No way." So I go in there.
[01:06:46] Paul Rosolie: Puerto Maldonado Airport?
[01:06:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it has priority pass. You go in there and they have an air conditioner, they have a coffee machine, and they have a little refrigerator that has drinks. And I went in there and everyone's like, "Bro, there's an air conditioner in here." Because bear in mind, we've been in the jungle for like three weeks at this point.
[01:07:01] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:07:01] Jordan Harbinger: Sweating our balls off and not eating any. You know that first cappuccino that you have is just absolutely drugs. So I was like, yeah, I have priority pass and I can take in two guests.
[01:07:13] Paul Rosolie: I've spent weeks of my life in this airport. I got to go check this out. I had no idea that that was hidden in there.
[01:07:18] Jordan Harbinger: A hundred percent worth of it.
[01:07:19] Paul Rosolie: My drugs is, after being out in the jungle for like three weeks, cold. I want cold water, cold beer, cold, anything.
[01:07:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That air conditioner, we sat right next to it. They're like, are you, "Aren't you cold?" And we're like, "That's the point. That's the point."
[01:07:32] Paul Rosolie: That's the only thing people say, "What do you miss?" You know, I'll be out for three weeks in the jungle and it's like, "I don't care. I'll eat rice." I don't, I really don't mind. Like I come from an Italian American family with very good food, but I don't miss food. If anything I'm like, when I get back, I'm going to really enjoy it. Like, it's fine. The thing that I miss is cold. I just want to have like cold refreshing. Like when you just, like, I have to say, when you're in the jungle for a while though, the streams, the little tiny clear water streams in the forest. It's refreshing, but it's still not that like ice cold. I like ice-cold water.
[01:07:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. No it's not. I missed dry clothes when I was there. I was like, I will do anything if just one pair of underwear could stop being moist, I would love it. And so we lit fires and it was weird because I got a stick and I was basically like roasting my underwear open over up in flame—
[01:08:15] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:08:15] Jordan Harbinger: —and they're like, "That's going to smell." And I'm like, "You don't want to smell what it's like when it's moist."
[01:08:19] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:08:19] Jordan Harbinger: And it's been on my body for three days and I'm just rotating.
[01:08:21] Paul Rosolie: Oh yeah.
[01:08:22] Jordan Harbinger: It smells worse. Trust me.
[01:08:23] Paul Rosolie: Campfire smell is way better. Yeah.
[01:08:25] Jordan Harbinger: Way better. Oh man. Yeah, I heard you got stung by a bullet ant. That's the most painful, is that what is the most painful sting of any insect in the world? Is that accurate?
[01:08:37] Paul Rosolie: The reputation is that it's the most painful insect sting of anything in the world. They're bad. The first time I did it was when I was 18 years old and I got to the Amazon and I was sort of being like, welcomed into the tribe. And these guys, they caught a bullet ant with some tweezers and they were like, "All right, we're going to, we want to play the game." And I was like, "What's the game?" And they were like, "Just put out your arm." I put out my arm. The other guy puts out his arm and then they drop the ant onto your arm and you put four arms together and you rub and you see who it bites. So it's basically bullet ant roulette. And of course, I got stung. And the thing is it's holding on with its feet. And it's pushing its stinger into you while it's biting you with its mandibles.
[01:09:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[01:09:13] Paul Rosolie: And it's just basically just trying to inflict as much damage on you as it can. It's like Hugo Stiglitz of insects. It's literally just die, die, die, die. So he was bashing my arm against the table and trying to get it off because I don't want to touch it. I'm scared that I was going to get stung on the other hand, and they're strong. They're like big inch-long black.
[01:09:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:09:31] Paul Rosolie: You can't kill them, you just piss them off more. And so I spent I think about 24 hours at like a high fever. All your like glands swell up and there's something in there venom that is very much engineered to make you feel this alarming feeling of that you might be able to go into anaphylactic shock or like that there's something wrong. You'll feel like the blood isn't pumping to the left side of my brain anymore. Like it's not just like a bee sting where you're like, "Ah, my hand hurts. My hand hurts. It's okay.
[01:09:55] Jordan Harbinger: It's waves of pain. I heard there's like waves washing over you.
[01:09:58] Paul Rosolie: It's waves of pain washing through your body. So over the years, I think I've probably eight or nine times been stung by a bullet ant with varying degrees of—
[01:10:07] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[01:10:07] Paul Rosolie: —intensity. But you know, some of them weren't as bad, but if they really hit you, it's bad. I was in a swamp and my friend Moss who got, he like, looked at me and he just went, "Dude," I went, "What?" And he goes, "I just got hit." And I was like, "No." And he's like, "No. Yeah." And he like pulled out his pants and showed me his thigh and it was like—
[01:10:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[01:10:24] Paul Rosolie: You know, big red welt. And I was just like, "Oh, dude, no." And it was like, because we were going to be doing all fun stuff the next few days. And it was like, he was like, "Ugh." And like he just like turned around and walked back to camp. He was like, "I'm done."
[01:10:34] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[01:10:35] Paul Rosolie: It rips the motivation right out of you.
[01:10:37] Jordan Harbinger: So a couple of guys on our trip, you know, one guy leishmaniasis that actually showed up later, the other guy, he got stung under his watch and it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it looked like he had two knuckles under his watch. It was bad enough where it was towards the end of the trip, he goes, "If this weren't the end of the trip, I'd take a medical evacuation." And even the guides were like, "Oh, that looks really bad. That's really, really, really swollen."
[01:11:02] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:11:02] Jordan Harbinger: And really bad. So we were headed back. I said, and this is why you never do this in the jungle, I said, "I'm so glad that nothing really bad happened to anybody on the trip." And I went to pay my bar tab because there's a bar at this particular lodge, which the bartender was from Venezuela. He was trained as a bartender, I want to say in Venezuela and wherever else, but he was really into mixology. And so he would take jungle plants that you can't find anywhere else in the world and he would infuse vodka and different liquors out of it, or even ferment them. So we had amazing drinks that you would pay like $30 for in a Manhattan bar, but you couldn't even get this particular thing because it was all jungle plants.
[01:11:41] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:11:41] Jordan Harbinger: So it was absolutely incredible. Normally, I don't say the drinking was really good on any trip that I go to, but it's somehow in the Amazon, the best drinks in the world at this one particular place. And I'm not exaggerating, like best drinks in the world. So I go to pay my bar tab and I reach into, I have a little backpack, I reached in there and I pulled out my wallet and two seconds later, a bullet ant crawled out of that exact same pouch, crawled over the table and the guy goes, "Oh, bullet ant." And he flung it and our other guide was like, "Maybe don't fling it elsewhere in the lodge. Get it out of here." So he goes and he picks it up on a paper and like flings it actually out of doors. And I thought to myself, I just came really close to having the worst 48 hours of my life because I had to travel and leave that day on boat, five hours by boat or whatever. And then another probably four hours or what, five hours by bus having gotten stung by bullet ant and then a flight home to the United States. Would've been the worst 48 hours of my life.
[01:12:43] Paul Rosolie: Would've been absolutely awful. Yeah.
[01:12:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:12:45] Paul Rosolie: That would've been terrible.
[01:12:46] Jordan Harbinger: The joke was like, "Oh, the jungle really keeps you on your toes, man." The second you let your guard down, it's like, actually, let me show you the fear of God right now.
[01:12:53] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, no, it does. The last time I got hit was somebody was like, "Hey, that's a cool flower. And it was like growing on some moss and I literally like reached over and like tried to get the whole plant, because we have like a little plant nursery.
[01:13:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:13:05] Paul Rosolie: I tried to like pull it up by the roots and stuff, and as I'm putting my finger down, I just [zap sound] and I get it instantly. It's like somebody shocks you. It's like it goes through your whole body and I'm like, "F*ck, come on." And then you have to check to make sure it's not anything worse than a bullet ant. And I like looked and I saw it and he was just like, flexing over there. He's like, "Yeah, what?" And I was like, alright, great. I was like, "Guys, I'm going back." I was like, "I'm not—"
[01:13:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:13:25] Paul Rosolie: And then on the walk back you start getting lightheaded and stuff. And I like took a bunch of Benadryl and slept for like four hours and woke up feeling like sh*t.
[01:13:31] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh. It's so brutal. And they're loners and we would be walking, there'd be these little bridges that they built over, like muddy, swampy whatever on a trail.
[01:13:41] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:13:41] Jordan Harbinger: And there'd be a sign, or the guide would just say, "Do not touch the handrail." And you're like, "Why?" And you look at the handrail and it's been eaten through of termites, but not only that, there'll be a bullet ant just walking. They run solo. So you don't get any warning.
[01:13:54] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:13:54] Jordan Harbinger: Like, oh, it's with other ants. It's just hanging out on a thing by itself that you might touch. And that's the end of it. And it's aggressive. They don't chase you, but it's not going to like give you a warning. It's just you get stung and that's it.
[01:14:09] Paul Rosolie: They're not going to give you a warning. And when you're doing work, like sometimes like we'll be like clearing trails or something and you'll be like hacking and sh*t. And it's like, there's so many things that can go wrong. I was out with the rangers and we were like blazing a new trail. We had to make it from like this one river to this stream and then back. And it took us four hours to cut through the jungle. But as you're trying to cut a straight line through the jungle, the jungle isn't working straight lines. And we hit this swamp system. And at the edges of the swamp system is this mega-dense growth with like thick bamboo and thorns everywhere. And as we're chopping, I'm watching bullet ants rain down on us, and we're all just like brushing them off really quick and like the tension level's going higher and higher and, you know, someone snaps one thing and the bamboo breaks and goes flying up.
[01:14:51] And bamboo is like a knife. When you cut it. It is sharp. I've seen it open a person's face. Like you could see their teeth through their cheek. We're all in this dense, dense, dense vegetation. We're all chopping. And I'm like, something bad's about to happen. Like I knew, you could just tell, you could like hear like that sound in The Dark Knight [makes a sound]. Like you just knew something's going to happen. One machete stroke did it and there was a hive of horrendous wasps and we just instantaneously got surrounded and everyone was getting destroyed and we all had to go running backwards. Drop the machetes. Don't run with the machetes. Try not to get impaled on the 10-inch-long thorns. Run past the bullet ants, and then we all like dove into the river and we're all just like trying to be okay, as we have, you know, stings all over our faces and our backs. And they burrow into your hair and they start repeatedly stinging you on your scalp. They're savage. They're savage. We knew it was going to happen. We knew something was going to happen.
[01:15:40] Jordan Harbinger: The amount of things that can damage or hurt you in the Amazon is second only to how amazing and beautiful the Amazon really is, right? So it's not just like this savage place that is awful every second that you're in it.
[01:15:52] Paul Rosolie: No.
[01:15:52] Jordan Harbinger: It can just kind of turn on a dime and remind you that you're not at the botanical gardens.
[01:15:57] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, and that's the thing. So like you said, we've spent so many tranquil evenings sitting on the river or on the lake fishing for piranha.
[01:16:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:16:05] Paul Rosolie: And you're watching a family of giant river otters and there's beautiful herrings and you're in like literally paradise. It looks like, you know this primeval world with this giant jungle. You feel like you're in a dream. You feel like you're in something that's like, I shouldn't be allowed to see things that is as beautiful.
[01:16:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You're in Avatar basically.
[01:16:22] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. You're basically in Avatar. And then, one of the piranhas that you threw in the boat will take a chunk out of your foot and you're like, "Ah, I forgot. I forgot.
[01:16:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right. I forgot. I'm not watching a movie. I'm part of the food chain.
[01:16:32] Paul Rosolie: I'm part of the food chain right now. Yeah, you definitely have to. But the good thing with the Amazon is that none of the animals there actually want to eat you. Like a jaguar will not bother a person. Like they just won't. I know there are regions of the Amazon where the jags have different behavior, but in our region there's literally, I think one story in the last 30 years of a woman that did get a, no, a man got attacked by a very old jaguar that had no more teeth. And the jag was like, "I can't catch deer anymore, so I'm going to try a human." And he like jumped on this old farmer. His wife actually beat it off with a shovel and then they ended up killing it. But the jags don't bother you. A tapir is not going to bother you. Black caimans aren't going to bother you. Unless you go swimming in a lake at night. And again, that's on you. That's your fault.
[01:17:15] So yeah, it's nothing. That's like some of these other jungles, like you go to India and it's like there are tigers.
[01:17:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:17:19] Paul Rosolie: There's elephants that are very pissed off at people. You know, Africa, of course, you've got things that will actually eat you. But in that sense, the large things are not what's going to hurt you in the Amazon, like a falling tree maybe. But other than like a mosquito and a bullet ant, there's not much that's like looking for trouble out there.
[01:17:36] Jordan Harbinger: The falling trees are quite scary, I guess, they fall in storms and you see these broken trees that are huge. I mean, they're like a hundred-feet tall. And all the vines that have grown around them for the last several decades, they rip down too. So if you're under that, it's like hundreds of feet square or circle or whatever. We'll just fall at one time. And if you're under that, you're done.
[01:17:57] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. You could lose a few acres, you could lose a few acres like that. I had some people come down and this couple wanted to go camping, and I was like, "Oh, I'll put you at the base of this beautiful tree. We call it the Avatar tree." And I was like, "I'm going to put you guys there and it's going to be perfect. I'm going to put the tent. I'll take you out there, we'll put the tent, we'll leave you there, whatever else." And everybody started drinking and we're at the research station and we're all like starting to party. And they were like, "All right, we're going to go." And I was like, "Yeah, I'll take you out there." And I was like, "You know what?" I was like, I don't know why I did this. I was like, "You know what? Go tomorrow night." I was like, "Let's hang out tonight." And they're like, "No, we're partying tonight. It'll be so cool to this segue into being in the jungle, be like the perfect date." and I was like, "Yeah." I was like, "I don't feel like going out tonight. Let's go out tomorrow night." And they were like, "All right."
[01:18:35] And so I had the place mapped out where I was going to put their tent. I cleared it with my machete, like I had it made into a little rectangle. And not the tree that they were be camping under, but the next tree over fell and all of those branches, and you're talking like, you know, minivan-sized branches, smashed, destroyed. If they were camping there, those people would've been juiced. Like there would've been nothing left of them. They would've been driven into the soil and it was pure coincidence. And just like the fact that in that moment, I don't know if I felt something and said it's a bad idea or if I just got lazy. I don't know what it is, but for some reason I was like, not tonight. We'll do it tomorrow night. And they would've been very dead.
[01:19:14] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh. The river itself is a little bit scary. We ended up building rafts to just, I don't know why. It was like a competition to build rafts, which is way harder than you think it's going to be, by the way. It's extremely hard. And then they float like crap. And you're not going anywhere and you're going upstream, not downstream, whatever, or you're getting spun around on surfaces. But you know, first you don't want to get near the water. You think something's going to eat you. Then you get over that, and then you realize that the current is actually wildly unpredictable because of the rain. So you get in one spot, you're just floating and you're like, oh, this is great. And maybe you see a little snake or something and it's not going to bug you, but it still unnerves you. And then in another spot, you're drifting lazily along and then that current goes over a shallow spot and picks you up so fast you realize there's no way you can swim fast enough to get to shore and break out of this.
[01:19:58] Paul Rosolie: Nope.
[01:19:59] Jordan Harbinger: And so we would jump in. We had life jackets on, obviously, but we were floating. We're like, this is great. And then we just get shot out like a rocket into a larger part of the river and the boat had to come get us because a bunch of us just got shot straight out there and—
[01:20:13] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:20:13] Jordan Harbinger: It's like, "All right, stop trying to swim because you're going to exhaust yourself and die." And the boat just came and got us. But I will say the sand flies. Holy sh*t, those were terrible.
[01:20:23] Paul Rosolie: Ooh.
[01:20:24] Jordan Harbinger: You'd go like step on the beach for a second until you got to drier area and you'd have 30 sandfly bites and they would all swell up. Ugh, it was disgusting. That's where we think that dude got leishmaniasis.
[01:20:34] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, sandflies suck. That's probably, I would say, if people were going to say, when is the Amazon own up to its reputation of being like bugging infested in horrendous.
[01:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:20:44] Paul Rosolie: Sandflies. If you have to be by the beach at like sundown, like six, 6:00 p.m. you get destroyed. And then sometimes we'll be like measuring an anaconda or something. Like we'll have like, you know, like a tape measure and a clipboard and we're like doing work. And if you don't have a field shirt on, like if you're just out, like I'm always, I usually have my shirt off in the jungle. I'm like, you just get destroyed and you got to deal with that for weeks because those bug bites aren't going to go away. I've seen some people get really messed up.
[01:21:11] Jordan Harbinger: I'm curious about this giant anteater. anteaters are not high on my list of animals. That actually sound dangerous, but apparently theses are pretty, pretty beasty.
[01:21:19] Paul Rosolie: Yeah, a giant anteater is the largest member of its family and they have these giant hooked claws. I think it's actually the largest claw of any mammal even a grizzly bear. A giant anteater's claw gets larger than that. They're these huge black claws. They're beautiful and they're peaceful animals. The reason they have those claws is twofold. They use it to defend themselves against jaguars. It's serious job. And so the anteater will actually stand up on its hindlegs like a human.
[01:21:45] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:21:46] Paul Rosolie: Using its tail for balance. And it'll have these claws out and they'll just open their arms and it looks like they're like, "Come on, let's go." And they'll let the jaguar come in and then they'll sink the claws into it and they can literally like rip its ribs out of his body.
[01:21:57] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[01:21:57] Paul Rosolie: I talked to a guy who was hunting and he didn't know what he was following, but his dogs picked up the scent and they're running along the stream bed and as they get around the corner, his dog shoots out of sight and then he just hears it yelp. And when he got around, this guy's really like a little four-foot tall man. He's little tiny Amazonian guy. And he gets around the corner and this anteater is standing up. One dog is already dead and it's guts out or out on the ground.
[01:22:20] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[01:22:20] Paul Rosolie: The other dog, the anteater has grabbed it and snapped its spinal cord at the neck and it's holding the dog. And it like looked at the guy and he said, "Looked at me right in the eyes." He goes, "And I put up my gun," and he goes, "And then it took a step towards me and I ran." And so he just like ran both of his dogs had been killed. And then, of course, the anteater was just like, "Just as long as you leave me alone, I'm not going to mess with you." But they're tough. And so, yeah, this mother anteater had been killed for some reason. Somebody had shot her. Nobody eats that meat. They're not apparently very good to eat, but somebody had killed a mother anteater and the babies ride on the mother's backs for the first six months of their life. And I would never have thought of anteater as an emotionally intelligent animal. But this baby anteater, as soon as I met her, she came right up to me. She was like living in a village, like under the floorboards, like next to the dogs and the chickens and stuff.
[01:23:08] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[01:23:09] Paul Rosolie: She had no mother. And so I was there and for some reason, I looked at her, she looked at me, she walked right over and she like climbed up my leg and like went against my chest and like went to sleep. And I was like, you know, this like beautiful little Pokemon just like decided she loves me. And so I was like, no, don't worry. I was like, you're safe with me? I was like, "What's her name?" And they were like, "Lulu." And I was like, "All right, Lulu's mine now. How do you want to negotiate this?" And they're like, "We don't care." And I was like, "All right, cool."
[01:23:32] I took her up to the research station. I was 19 at this point. And so like I was learning the jungle. And you'd put her down and she'd freak out. Like absolutely freak out. She needed to have that touch, that connection to another body at all times. That's what she needed. And so you put her down, she'd freak out, put her on your shoulder, and she'd be happy and she'd go to sleep. Now anteaters have about, you know, like a 12-inch tongue that they fire into the holes of termite nests and sticky. And that's how they pull out rapid fire. That's how they get their food. And then they go from nest to nest, to nest, to nest. So I just had to always have this anteater on my chest or on my back. Even when I slept, I would have her on me, but then she would wake up and decide that she wanted to play. And so she'd take her tongue like a 10-inch tongue and like fired up my nose and would come out my mouth or like fired into my ear—
[01:24:16] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[01:24:16] Paul Rosolie: And it would just, it would just absolute like brain cleaning, just like all the way inside and one, two, three, before you could even react, you'd be like, boom, boom, boom. And just like, you know, and like it can search. Like you could feel it like searching through your nasal cavities.
[01:24:29] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[01:24:29] Paul Rosolie: And she thought you could tell she thought this was hysterical because she would do this and then she'd like cheer. She'd be like, ha ha ha. I wake up and I would wake up and I would throw her on my back. And I'd have to wear like a sweater or something. because she'd try and hold on with the claws.
[01:24:42] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:24:42] Paul Rosolie: But then I started going around the jungle on my hands and knees with this baby giant anteater and like interacting with animals as an animal. And so for a while, I was, I turned into a mother anteater.
[01:24:52] Jordan Harbinger: Were you showing her how to eat ants? Was that the idea like, Hey, learn how to find food yourself? That was the idea.
[01:24:58] Paul Rosolie: I mean, part of me was like, this is stupid. And then part of me was like, yeah, but then like when they're rehabbing birds, you know, they put on the a fake mama bird to teach them.
[01:25:06] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:25:06] Paul Rosolie: And then they learned to teach it to them. So it was like, if she's going to have any chance of being a mother at some point, like I should probably carry her. And so I would do a few hours every day of walking around on the forest floor, on my hands and knees, which teaches you a lot. You know, as humans we're always like, again, it's like the classic thing, it's like we don't realize, like I have this problem with people that study elephant intelligence. It's like, well, there's 10 researchers and we have an elephant at the Bronx Zoo. And we gave it a key and we were seeing if it knows to fit the key in the lock. And I'm like, you're giving it very human problems—
[01:25:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:25:35] Paul Rosolie: —with a ton of humans around watching, try walking with an elephant through the jungle by yourself and seeing the problems that they solve on their own, which is different. And of course, there's a logical limit to that type of research because most people doing this research don't have the access to walk through the jungle alone with an elephant.
[01:25:51] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:25:52] Paul Rosolie: And so, the only reason I'm saying this is because when I started doing this, I started going, oh, they are way smarter than we think they are. They should have their own like government representation. They should be considered like a class of non-human beings. Like, we need to think about elephants a whole different way. But when I was walking with the anteater, I started realizing that being in the jungle and acting like an animal, like really settling in with them, opens a whole new dimension of the jungle. And it opened a whole new dimension of the jungle for me. And I've heard of people doing this. I know one guy was trying to rewild, um, a pack of wolves. And there's also a beautiful story of somebody who did this with turkeys, and you said turkeys, but it's like he wrote poetry about, you know, the time he spent living out in the wild with this turkey that he was trying to rewild with these other turkeys. And so it's like when you have the animals as your guide and you completely stop being the human and you act like them, you can access levels that you might not even realize are there before you do something like that.
[01:26:50] So Lulu was the first thing. So the anteater really, really like unlocked a level of, of intensity. And intimacy with the Amazon that I didn't know was possible. So that was really like, you know, first being learning from the indigenous guys and going out on hunting trips and drinking ayahuasca with them and learning how to fish piranha from them, learning how to do everything from them. And then being anteater for a while, like these things like start to reshape your brain. You start to go, okay, like your senses change, your body changes. And then, I've only reinforced that, like I said, like later on in my career, I got to spend time like serious, serious time with elephants that. You know, and usually with elephants, there's either wild elephants or there's captive elephants. And so I had the incredibly rare privilege of spending time with an elephant that was habituated to people, but was allowed to live wild. And so I got to walk through the jungle with an elephant that wouldn't kill me. Because you know, if you go up to a herd of elephants, they're going to run away. Usually, it's a female group and they're very suspicious of humans. We cut down their forests, we throw things at them. You know, like in India, the farmers are pretty brutal on the elephants. And so you're never going to be in a situation where a wild elephant is going to accept you unless you're spending, you know, weeks out in, in, in the wild with them, which is really not something that is possible.
[01:28:04] But I ended up in this situation where I was caring for this elephant and walking through the jungle with him, and he was just doing things like the amount of intelligence that they have, the depth of intellect that they have. You know, people be like, oh, my dog knows, and I'm sad. And it's like, yeah, the elephants know everything. I mean, I've watched an elephant walk up to a girl that we didn't know, she knew she was pregnant, but we didn't know she was pregnant. And the elephants walked up to her and the matriarch put its trunk against her stomach. And then, like all of a sudden, all the other elephants came over and all of a sudden you had five or six elephants all touching this girl's stomach and like conversing with each other about it.
[01:28:36] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. That's straight out of a movie. That's incredible.
[01:28:40] Paul Rosolie: No, that was, and then I was watching this going, oh, you know, and they were extra gentle. I actually, my friend, Niti, who's an incredible conservationist in India, I have beautiful pictures of this, but she had a little tribal boy, he must have been like two years old. But the elephants came through, and again, these elephants, you have to be careful. Like we were like, pick them up, you know, make sure, but we don't have to. The elephants are smart. They all walked in and they were a lot calmer because there was a baby. Like when it's just us, they walk in, they'll shoulder past us. One of them will pick up the Jeep. So it's only on two wheels. And like, look over at you and be like, "Yo, hey, what do you think about this?" They'll don't mess with you. Like, they have a sense of humor, which is also crazy, you know? Because dogs, they're authentic. They're smart. They're like, oh, what? You know, were you, Frisbee, Frisbee, Frisbee. But they're not doing jokes. Elephants, they'll like knock something over and they'll be like, "I know you loved that." And they'll flap their ears like they know. But around a baby, it was so interesting because the mothers corralled their young. Because the younger elephants are the more dangerous ones because they're the size of a minivan, but they're, they don't have the respect yet.
[01:29:41] So a young male elephant, he's got the tusks, he's crazy, he's strong, but he hasn't been taught how to act yet. And so you, you have to be a little careful around them. But the moms were like, "Oh, oh, oh, oh. The humans have a baby. Like, be careful." And they like, they like pushed their young off to the side and then they were curious. And so there was this moment where Niti was holding this little tribal boy and like the kid is leaning over and touching this elephant and the elephant, well, she wasn't even flapping her ears. She was just very much like, "You can do it." She like, she knew what was going on. She was fully aware. It was just like watching two people show a baby something. It was like, if you watch like a big burly guy with a beard and like a little baby who's a little scared of the guy and his mom going, "You know, just touch it. It's okay. It's just a beard." Like, it's like the elephant and Niti were collaborating on allowing this child to touch the elephant. It was like just watching two people be like, "Oh yeah, it's okay." And the baby just reached over and I was just sitting there clicking just like, this is mind blowing.
[01:30:35] Jordan Harbinger: You're a man of all jungles, apparently. For those who haven't figured it out, we're not talking about the Amazon anymore. There are no elephants in the Amazon.
[01:30:41] Paul Rosolie: Yeah.
[01:30:41] Jordan Harbinger: I got to let you go for now, but I'm looking forward to the viral video where you run into a giant anteater while you're making a documentary or whatever, and it attacks you and licks your face because it ends up being Lulu, your long lost pet anteater.
[01:30:54] Paul Rosolie: Oh my God.
[01:30:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:30:55] Paul Rosolie: That I want, I want that one, the born free of anteaters. Yes, that'd be great.
[01:30:58] Jordan Harbinger: Have you seen that viral video from like the '80s where the guy goes and meets the lions, but he had raised them as cub hasn't seen them in years, and they jump on him.
[01:31:06] Paul Rosolie: Yep.
[01:31:07] Jordan Harbinger: And they're looking at his face. It's incredible.
[01:31:09] Paul Rosolie: It's incredible. It's so cool. It wasn't that dramatic, so again, animals can smell a million times better than we can. We put camera traps, these automatic cameras that are out in the jungle and have motion sensors on them. We're constantly using camera traps to monitor wildlife populations and get footage of what species are in our area. And so I'd put out a series of camera traps not too long, maybe a couple of years after I'd released Lulu. And this one anteater did come by the camera trap and you can see her, she smells it and it must have smelled like me. And then she like turns to the side and she's got a baby on her back.
[01:31:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[01:31:43] Paul Rosolie: And then she walks by and I was like, I have no way of knowing if that was Lulu. I have no way of knowing.
[01:31:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:31:48] Paul Rosolie: But it's the only time I've ever seen anteater interact with a camera trap. And we've forgotten on camera traps all the time, but in my head it was, and she was right in the right area, everything was perfect. All the factors support the hypothesis that this could have been Lulu. That she did smell a familiar scent, stopped by the camera trap, and then as she turned, she actually had a baby on her back. So I'm like, that's the way that went.
[01:32:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Amazing. Well, it's a comforting thought in another case, man. Thank you very much for taking the time. I know you're usually again in the jungle and we caught you during one of your springtime New York sessions here. So I'm grateful. And yeah, stay safe down there. I know in your book you talk about poachers and loggers and gold miners and trying to catch 25-foot long mega anacondas that pull you underwater, which like, no thank you. I'm good on that.
[01:32:34] Paul Rosolie: Oh, it's so much fun. You got to come try it, man. Anaconda riding's the best time you could have.
[01:32:37] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds horribly dangerous and just getting there. I'm good just watching that on Nat Geo. I think I'll stick with that.
[01:32:44] Paul Rosolie: Nah, I could tell you love the jungle by the way you talk about it and I could tell you've been there, which is cool.
[01:32:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[01:32:49] Paul Rosolie: Yeah. Good talking with you, man. That's, that's awesome.
[01:32:51] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know if I could go back. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, man. Thank you.
[01:32:56] As usual, I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before we get into that, I wanted to give you a preview of one of my favorite stories from an earlier episode of the show. My friend Steve Elkins found a lost city in the jungle that most people never even knew existed. I'm not even kidding. It sounds insane. This has to be one of the most incredible stories I've ever recorded on the show. I know you're going to love this one.
[01:33:18] Steve Elkins: The legend of Ciudad Blanca or White City in English goes back probably 500 years to the best of my knowledge, people have believed that there is this civilization out there and the local indigenous people have their own legends. It has about five different names of which I can't pronounce about this culture, this civilization that lived out in the jungle at one time. One of the other monikers for the city in current times as Lost City of the Monkey God. Maybe there's some truth to this legend. I kind of felt there was something to it.
[01:33:52] The Mosquitia Jungle where it's located in the Eastern third of Honduras is one of the toughest jungles in the world, and by accidents of geography in history, it's remained pretty much unexplored until recently. I have a map made by the British in the 1850s, and on that map it says Portal del Infierno over that part of the jungle, and it was called the Gates of Hell because the terrain was so tough. A lot of people have gone looking for it. Some went in and some never came back.
[01:34:21] A director friend of mine introduced me to a guy named Captain Steve Morgan, and he was a lifelong adventurer, explorer, treasure hunter, raconteur, nice guy. Really pretty smart. And I said, "Let's go." In the 1994, we headed out to Honduras for an unknown adventure, looking for the lost city.
[01:34:43] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Steve Elkins, including the details on how they discovered the city and made one of the most important archeological discoveries of the century, check out episode 299 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:34:56] Paul's got incredible stories. We didn't even get a chance to talk about him waking up with a jaguar next to him when he was sleeping with his face just inches from Paul's ear. I mean, that's why are you alive. That's the question I would've had. If we had time to touch on that one. It's amazing how psycho some of these poachers are out in the jungle. I mean, there's loggers that kill officials. They kill locals by just in brutal ways, they light people on fire and make everyone watch. I mean these are, you think drug cartels are bad, these guys are equally bad and it's just because they want mahogany. It's incredibly sad.
[01:35:29] There are so many species in the Amazon. I actually went and researched this because I thought, why are there so many different areas with different species that only live in these very tiny areas? Well, it turns out, and I'm going to explain this poorly, but here we go. Of course, history's full of ice ages and what happens in areas like the Amazon jungle is these glaciers move and they cut, and these areas of jungle become islands for hundreds or even thousands of years, and then they join again as the ice melts. And this shift happens over and over and over again. And so you end up with all these different diverse species growing essentially in isolation in these what were at the time islands. And then as those islands grow into each other and we end up with the jungle, we just end up with millions of different types of, I guess, you would al almost call them micro species at that point. It's really incredible. Again, that's a question for an actual scientist to explain, but I thought it was really fascinating why the jungle has so much biodiversity.
[01:36:26] Speaking of biodiversity, I mentioned my friend who had leishmaniasis growing on his face after our trip to the jungle, which by the way, kind of scary when somebody on your trip gets a flesh-eating parasite on their face but Paul also ended up with a crazy face infection. He was actually taken to be helped by poachers. It turned out to be mercer, so that turned out to be kind of a big deal. There's a lot of stuff in the jungle, man. Biodiversity kind of cuts both ways. Poaching is terrible just because of the animal loss, but poaching also hurts tourism because there's less animals. And then that hurts jobs, which drives locals to extraction industries like poaching, like gold mining, which of course, then hurts tourism even more. So you end up with a vicious cycle and a kind of a race to the bottom and it's really, really sad. Peru actually granted a major concession to Exxon in the area, which thankfully later backed down. It's a protected area. Now it's the largest uninhabited and unhunted area on Earth. So look, I'm all about economics and free market, but man, can we just maybe not drill for oil in one freaking place, the Amazon jungle. Can we find somewhere else to do it for Christ's sake?
[01:37:29] We're already looking at the scope of the destruction in the Amazon extraction of timber, other resources. The locals have a saying, I think an indigenous or first nation saying, "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children," which if you think about that and you let that set in kind of heavy duty, man, we were driving back from our trip when I was down there and we're driving on these dirt roads that go through areas of the jungle, and then you'll just see a clearing, and then you'll see another clearing, and then there's another clearing that's on fire. And you realize that every day they're burning one sort of suburban household lot worth of jungle, hundreds of gian areas, probably in the Amazon to make way for farmland and have their cows graze. And then they just do it again the next day and the next day and the next day. And they clear tons and tons and tons of land. You can come out of a thick jungle that you can barely walk in. And then you can see hundreds of meters of just flat ash or grass or nothing for that matter, because they've used the land and they moved on. It's really, really sad, especially when you think that there's uncontacted tribes in there. And some of these tribes, think about this, they've never heard of the United States. They've never heard of World War II. They don't even know that they live in Peru. They've never heard of that country, even though they live there. That's how isolated these tribes are. They just have no idea. It's really incredible that that still exists on this planet. It's almost a quaint notion.
[01:38:54] Paul also likes chasing cryptic, so giant kind of maybe extinct, maybe doesn't exist wildlife, snakes that are so big, they could probably swallow a person. It's really something. Humans are the most dangerous creatures in the Amazon, maybe also mosquitoes or flesh-eating parasites. But man, the gators or crocs, caiman, and giant anacondas, nothing to sneeze at, he actually saw one that was something like 15 feet and almost got crushed by it and pulled him underwater. I mean, that's a story that I just sort of firmly keep in the nightmare fuel bank, period. And now you can too. Just imagine being pulled underwater by a 15-plus-foot snake. No thanks, and you're welcome.
[01:39:35] Big thank you to Paul Rosolie. All things Paul will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Remember to check out our ChatGPT bot, which is forever improving over at jordanharbinger.com/ai. You can find any interview, any promo code from any sponsor, any Feedback Friday question in the answer should be covered by that bot. Let us know if you find anything weird there. Transcripts in the show notes, videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I've said it once, but I will say it again. Please consider supporting those who support the show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. Or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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[01:40:35] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into the Amazon wildlife, giant anacondas that can eat you, share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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