In 1972, newlyweds Holly Fitzgerald and her husband Gerald were set to begin an adventure of a lifetime.

"Why not have memories and go on a trip, not just a regular honeymoon, but go around the world, why not?" said Holly Fitzgerald, a Dartmouth resident, of the adventure.

That's was the prevailing attitude of the Fitzgeralds at the start of Holly's book, Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios, but it is certainly not the whole story.

What started out an an adventure soon turned into a nightmare. The couple had been in South America for several months and boarded a plane in Peru hoping to make their next destination. Instead, the plane crashed in the jungle.

Amazingly, they were unhurt and walked to what they thought was a village. It turned out to be a prison.

Days later, they found themselves in Puerto Maldonado, where they were told no boat would sail to their next destination, Riberalta, for at least three months. Disappointed and unsure of their next move, a man suggested they build a raft and travel down the river to Riberalta. The trip would take about 10 days, he said. It would actually take weeks longer.

The Fitzgeralds did build a raft and although the trip started well, it soon became a disaster.  After days on the river, the raft became lodged in a cove. The couple spent 26 days there, battling sweltering heat, monsoon rains, mosquitos, bees, and hunger, eating snails and small frogs to stay alive before being rescued.

The couple ended up in a hospital in Riberalta before finally returning home to the U.S.

More than 40 years later, Fitzgerald decided to write about their adventure from a journal she kept during the trip. Ruthless River is a love story, an adventure story, and a story of hope and perseverance.

When I contacted Fitzgerald about doing a Townsquare Sunday interview, she asked me to read the book first. I'm certainly glad I did.

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public service program that airs every Sunday morning at 6 and 11 a.m. on 1420 WBSM and 99.5 FM. The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to improve the quality of living on the SouthCoast.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please contact the host at

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