The Spanish conquistadors search for gold in the Amazon ended tragically for many and for those who survived, their tales of their adventures were incredible and bordered on the unbelievable. Tales of men killed by poisoned arrows, spiders that ate birds, giant snakes that swallowed large animals and humans whole, and rivers that boiled as if there was a fire burning underneath.
Andres Ruzo’s grandfather told him of similar tales and he became curious about this “boiling rivers”.
While working on Peru’s geothermal energy potential he remembered the mysterious tale and began to question, “Could the boiling river exist?”
He asked everyone around him, colleagues, the government, oil, gas and mining companies and have no idea about this river near the Amazon. Boiling rivers do exist and but most of them are near volcanoes and there are no volcanoes near the Amazon.
He recounted the story at a family dinner and to his surprise, his uncle and aunt confirmed, that a boiling river really exists.
He started to trek the jungle of Amazon with the help of his aunt in hopes of finding the boiling river.
After hours of hiking, he heard something that sounded like ocean waves. When he got closer, he saw smoke and vapor coming up the trees. He thought he finally found what he was looking for.
He said, “I immediately grabbed for my thermometer, and the average temperatures in the river were 86 degrees C. This is not quite the 100-degree C boiling but definitely close enough. The river flowed hot and fast. I followed it upriver and was led by, actually, the shaman's apprentice to the most sacred site on the river. And this is what's bizarre -- it starts off as a cold stream. And here, at this site, is the home of the Yacumama, mother of the waters, a giant serpent spirit who births hot and cold water. And here we find a hot spring, mixing with cold stream water underneath her protective motherly jaws and thus bringing their legends to life.”
He was amazed to find the water very clean. He learned later that the locals have been using it for drinking, cooking and is a big part of their everyday life.
He ended his TED talk by saying, “There remains so much to explore. We live in an incredible world. So go out. Be curious. Because we do live in a world where shamans still sing to the spirits of the jungle, where rivers do boil and where legends do come to life.”
Andres is now a Geoscientist and a National Geographic Young Explorer and every year he goes back to the river to perform some fieldwork.
Watch the video and listen to his talk as he narrates his amazing journey discovering the unique geothermal phenomenon.