Thursday, September 2, 2010
Parrado's Perspective: Miracle in the Andes
Miracle in the Andes is by far the best account I've read or seen of the tragic airplane crash in the Andes in 1972, in which 16 members of a Uruguayan rugby team survived for 72 days in one of the harshest climates in the world. With hardly any food, warm clothing, or medical supplies, the survivors of the crash battled nearly impossible circumstances. As the number of deaths increased due to the cold and injuries, and once the survivors heard on a radio that the search for them had been called off, it became clear that someone would need to climb out of the mountains if any of them were to survive. Nando Parrado, 34 years later, tells the story of the crash and of his journey out of the mountains. Parrado and his friend Roberto Canessa made the 12 day trek, with little food and a sleeping bag made out of insulation from the plane.
What is most fascinating about this book is the way in which Parrado describes how the survivors dealt with this trial. Parrado recalls a moment in which he wants to cry for the death of his mother and sister who died in the crash. He realized that to cry would be to lose essential fluid that he would need in the days to come. His survival instinct kicked in immediately. Yet, he later describes a moment when all he could think of was to run off into the blinding snow and be left to die. He writes about how as more and more of the crash survivors passed away, those who remained were terrified by the thought of being the last survivor, left to die alone amidst the stillness and silence of the Andes.
This is a book I couldn't put down. The vulnerability Parrado exhibits in writing about his love for his father as the driving force keeping him alive, as well as the humility and honesty of his writing make this a book not to be missed. For weeks after reading this eloquent autobiography, and still now as I write this, I think about how if any story proves to us the possibility of human triumph over unimaginable odds, it is this one.