Dream of a Lifetime is a Good Solid 3 Star Book. It is a memoir of a gentleman who spent 10 years living in the Amazon with only sporadic trips back to the US. For that alone and reading about his personal experiences and the hazards of his journey, it is worth the read. It’s definitely a real account of a very interesting journey and time in this author’s life. I understand exactly why he wrote it and why it needed to be written. After all, who gets to have this experience. It really is the adventure of a lifetime, and perfect for those who want to read about the beginnings of the Yacumamma Lodge.
Dream of a Lifetime: Ten Years in the Upper Amazon by Norman Walters is a tale of adventure and refinding yourself and your sense of adventure after trying to fit in with the “norm”. The bulk of the memoir takes place between 1992 and 2002, and when the author left the states, he was 44. Norman Walters grew up in the 1960s and 70s, graduating high school in 1967 in Indiana with his best friend graduating in 1969, which is where this memoir more or less starts. There is some back and forth flip-flop between now and then in the first few chapters. The author has an extremely unique voice that exemplifies the era in which he grew up. You'll notice a lot of 1960s and 70s lingo and slang. There is an overabundance of parenthesis in this memoir that can be somewhat redundant and rambly. However, given the era of the author, this may simply be his voice and a true way to represent the way he speaks and tells stories.
In the front of this book, we learn the author is escaping an undesirable (10-year?) marriage when his best friend calls him after three years and asks if he wants to help him start a retreat in the Amazon jungle, specifically the Yacumamma Lodge, which still exists today.
Obviously, Norman says yes and proceeds to prepare for the trip, which doesn't go smoothly, but they make it down to their desired location. Along the way, they are almost robbed and forced to give bribes to police, but they get to see a plethora of naked and semi-naked women and drink and generally have a good time until they nearly down in the Amazon river during a torrential downpour. Obviously, they survive, or we wouldn’t have this book.
What follows is a very detailed account of the successes and near catastrophic failures of building the Yacumamma Lodge and turning it into a successful eco-tourist attraction. Readers get to relive the experiences of Norman Walters from wondering how everyone already knew what he wanted to purchase to his many trips to Ari's (A diner-type establishment) and up and down the Amazon river as well an an accurate account of all the people he met and the good, life-long friends he made.
To sum it up, this book is extremely entertaining and worth the read to spite the time-sequence flip-flopping and periodic sections of over-description. It’s also something to read if you want to know the beginnings of the Yacumamma Lodge by someone who helped develop and build it from the ground up.
I do want to say that it's simply amazing the amount of detail the author remembers from his time living in the Amazon and starting an eco-retreat. I certainly do not remember my 1992 through 2002 in nearly as much detail, and I'm pretty sure I took less pills and hallucinogens and didn't imbibe nearly as much as the author.