The Cloud Garden: A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture

Overview

The Darién Gap, the only break in the Pan-American Highway, is a place of legend. In this almost impregnable strip of swamp, jungle, and cloud forest between the land masses of North and South America, stories of abduction and murder are rife. In recent years, more people have successfully climbed Everest than have crossed the Darién Gap.
In 2000, Tom Hart Dyke, a young botanist, set off to Central America with one thing in mind: orchids. To find the rare and beautiful species ...

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Overview

The Darién Gap, the only break in the Pan-American Highway, is a place of legend. In this almost impregnable strip of swamp, jungle, and cloud forest between the land masses of North and South America, stories of abduction and murder are rife. In recent years, more people have successfully climbed Everest than have crossed the Darién Gap.
In 2000, Tom Hart Dyke, a young botanist, set off to Central America with one thing in mind: orchids. To find the rare and beautiful species he so fervently admired, he would have to visit some of the most inhospitable places on earth. At the same time, another young explorer, Paul Winder, was backpacking through the area. Though he sometimes worked freelance in the city of London, Paul was essentially a fearless traveler. Pure chance brought Paul and Tom together in northern Mexico; they formed an instant bond and their fate was sealed.
Ignoring a final succinct warning from the Lonely Planet guide - Don't even think about it! - Tom and Paul set off into the Darién, Tom in search of orchids, Paul in search of adventure. They would find plenty of each. For six days, they made good progress. Then, just hours away from Colombia, the dream ended and the horror began. Ambushed by FARC guerrillas, they were held hostage for the next nine months. From that day on, their survival was a matter of extraordinary endurance, incredible ingenuity - and not a little good luck.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"Don't even think about it!" In retrospect, British botanist Tom Hart Dyke and London banker Paul Winder realized that they should have heeded the Lonely Planet guide's warning about the dangers of the Darién Gap, a dense jungle straddling the Panama-Colombia border. But, lured by the promise of rare orchids and high adventures, they trekked into this region of blow-darts, guerrillas, and a mother's worst nightmares. For six days, they made progress; on the seventh, they were seized by terrorists. Thus began a surrealistic nine-month ordeal and a thoroughly captivating book.
From the Publisher

"Clearly, surviving a nine-month jungle kidnapping requires courage and endurance. But Hart Dyke and Winder came equipped with something else in addition: pluck. It's that quality, crackling on every page, that makes The Cloud Garden one of the strangest and most satisfying adventure reads in recent memory."--Men's Journal magazine

"Written with humor and suspense, this is a vivid account of [Dyke's and Winder's] nine-month ordeal. Dual first-person viewpoints are seamlessly spliced together, and the format provides a prismatic presentation of contrasting attitudes, allowing each author to comment on the other."--Publishers Weekly

"Told in alternating voices (which works surprisingly well), this is a well-written adventure story filled with intrigue and hope."--Library Journal

"Readers will find themselves turning pages and delaying dinner while Winder and Dyke slowly blossom into the heroes of their own misguided adventure."--BookPage

Publishers Weekly
The 16,000-mile Pan-American Highway runs from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, interrupted only by the 54-mile Darien Gap, a dense jungle along the Panama/ Colombia border. Few cross this lawless wilderness, where drug traffickers and guerrillas hide out. When British botanist Dyke and London banker Winder met in Mexico four years ago, they teamed up to tour the Gap, despite the region's danger. Dyke hoped to find rare orchids, while world traveler Winder sought a new challenge. After six days, they were ambushed by a guerrilla group near Colombia. Held hostage, they encountered flesh-eating worms and considered escape possibilities, amusing themselves by nicknaming their captors, listening to BBC World Service and entertaining the guerrilla camp with a performance of Eric Idle's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." The fun was short-lived. Baffled by Tom's orchid-hunting enthusiasm, the kidnappers believed the two were CIA agents or drug dealers and came from great wealth. When a $3-million ransom was requested, the authors refused the demands and were eventually released with no explanation. Written with humor and suspense, this is a vivid account of their nine-month ordeal. Dual first-person viewpoints are seamlessly spliced together, and the format provides a prismatic presentation of contrasting attitudes, allowing each author to comment on the other. Agent, Mark Lucas. (Aug. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 2000, English backpackers Dyke and Winder met by chance in Central America. Dyke was a young botanist in search of rare plants, particularly orchids. Winder was a young banker in search of adventure. Although the travel guides warned against it, Winder had plans to traverse the Dari n Gap, a dangerous, seldom-traveled jungle area between Panama and Colombia. Dyke, intrigued by the orchids he might find in the gap, agreed to join him. They fared well for several days but were then taken hostage by FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas and held for nine months. The bulk of the book describes their incredible ordeal during these months and the amazing story of their relationships with their captors, who treated them well, most likely hoping to ransom them. Told in alternating voices (which works surprisingly well), this is a well-written adventure story, filled with intrigue and hope. Recommended for public libraries where there is an interest in travel adventure books. Sarah Jent, Univ. of Louisville Lib., KY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592287895
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2005
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Hart Dyke is a botanist with a wild enthusiasm for orchids. He lives in Kent, England.

Paul Winder works in London as a banker when he isn't in the jungle or up a mountain.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Maps xi
1 Capture 1
2 Serendipity 7
3 Mind the Gap 24
4 Last of the Lollipops 37
5 Bras and Guns 63
6 Ransom 86
7 Guerrillas in Our Midst 110
8 Trouble Ahead 136
9 Monkey Stew 156
10 Deep Heat 175
11 Bedlam Express 202
12 Stealing for Britain 219
13 Let's Escape 233
14 Landscape Gardening under Pressure 248
15 To Flee or Not to Flee ... 268
16 Leaving la Selva 284
Epilogue 309
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Adventure- Travel- True story

    This is a true story of 2 young men who set out to cross the Darién Gap, which is a "no mans land" jungle between Columbia and Panama, controlled by different guerilla groups including the FARC.
    The writing is interesting with both men taking turns telling the story.
    It's well written and fast paced and the fact that it's true makes it even more fascinating reading.
    I highly recommend it to anyone who likes adventure and suspense.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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