F l y i n g   D o w n   T o   R i o - D e c e m b e r   1 ,   1 9 9 7

“Flying Down to Rio” ...That was the name of an old Bob Hope movie, but on my flight out of Newark they were showing Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD. Headsets were free, so I allowed myself to set aside the guidebooks and magazine reprints and relax. (I’d been up since one o’clock that morning, taking care of the usual last minute e-mails and unleashing draft proposals for what we hope will be next year’s visits to the Arctic, a very different environment to the one I was now flying above!)

The automatically-updated airline map showed we were now actually over the Amazon, at some 35,000 feet. I thought back about how in the movie John Hammond had finally gotten green religion and then sanctimoniously went public to argue that his remaining dinosaurs should live out their lives untouched by science and by commerce, set aside from humans on their island home. When you’re on a research trip to a new environment, everything becomes a symbol, and you become super aware of things you’d otherwise take for granted. So I wondered whether seeing that movie on this flight would help me understand the fascinating interplay of biodiversity and development which the Smithsonian and INPA researchers were studying on the ground, centered on that red dot on the blocky, computerized map, with the name I knew of only from the tour books with their potted histories—Manaus.

Geoff’s Journals Flying Down To Rio