Anyone who has seen NYC Mayor Bloomberg “speak Spanish” in a press conference has probably noticed that he appears to be pronouncing the words with somewhat of a New York accent and possibly with a gun pressed to his back.
In fact, his efforts to communicate with Spanish-speaking residents have inspired a Twitter feed called “El Bloombito,” which has generated “public announcements” such as “No collecto todos los garbage today. Pero que si your usual dia esta today por favor to leave it at los curb anyway. Que stinky!”
Still, I give the guy credit for trying. I admire people who take on new challenges, especially later in life. It gives the rest of us hope that we’ll never be too old to learn new things. This sentiment partly explains why I found THE RIVER OF DOUBT by Candice Millard so captivating. While some of us respond to failure with chocolate, President Teddy Roosevelt tended to channel his disappointment into incredible adventures like the one described in this book. After a humiliating defeat to William Howard Taft, he decided to explore the River of Doubt, “a churning, ink-black tributary of the Amazon that winds nearly a thousand miles through the dense Brazilian rain forest.” In the opening scene, a fellow traveler writes in his diary: “I don’t believe he can live through the night.” They are hundreds of miles from help, and Roosevelt has a fever of 105.
The graphic description of such a difficult, fascinating journey would probably be enough for anyone. Knowing that Roosevelt began it at the age of 54 adds to its appeal. And for someone like me, who didn’t learn enough from my US history textbooks, this is a fun way to school yourself about an important shaper of our history.
Plus, I’m fairly certain it’s better to encounter piranhas vicariously.