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Further on, we received a live electric eel in Barra do Rio Negro, which we had the opportunity to examine (1). The waters, in these regions of the river, are very rich of the most different kinds of fish.

Gymnotus, the electric eel

On October 22nd, before dawn broke, we crossed the river, leaving the southern side to the northeast, and when the sun rose, we found ourselves in a strange mixture of waters. Among the murky and whitish waves of the Amazon, very distinct spots appeared, like large spots, dark-brown patches that, appearing and disappearing, were finally absorbed by the dominant flow, imparting a darker tonality.

Meeting of Rio Amazon and Rio Negro

Meeting of Rio Amazon and Rio Negro from space

Little by little, the number and size of the brown waves became larger; The whitish waters disappeared, and we found ourselves in the Rio Negro, which was much calmer before us, the more we turned away from the turbulence of the Amazon. The Indians burst into shouts of great joy, as we faintly paddled in the mirror of the calm brown waters, and near noon we threw anchor in Barra Negro River.

Barra Rio Negro

When we disembarked from the canoe, we were received by the ombudsman of the province and several officers of the garrison, who soon accompanied us to the house of the Governor.

We found him sick and in bed; But with his benevolent care, a house was prepared for us, where we stayed, to rest from the burdens of travel. We had made the navigation from Belem do Para to Barra do Rio Negro in two and a half months (2), when we could have, with smaller vessels and in greater haste, made the journey in a month.

(I) About the Amazons. - As soon as there is occasion to touch on this subject, it is said that in South America there are Amazon women warriors, similar to those attributed to Asia; following is an extraordinary revelation of the legend of this continent: Orellana was warned by an indian chief about a people of women warriors, whom this Indian called a wedge-wader (perhaps he was from the tribe of omaguas, who spoke the general language), and in 1542, in the Cunuris River, today Trombetas, found, among the men, women combatants. The tale of Acuna cites this simple fact with all the legends, which, since that time, has been told and retold.

(1) As these Indians did not inform me of anything, besides what is already known, I am satisfied to indicate the detailed description of this wonderful phenomenon, inserted in the works of Mr. von Humboldt.

von Humboldt - Bonpland expedition

The eels of the Amazon and Rio Negro grow to six feet in length and have the thickness of a man's thigh. They weigh, then, 40 and more pounds. The form and the dark green color of the eel all combine in an unpleasant way. Rarely are they eaten. Their meat is difficult to digest. They live in great schools. Monteiro states that they lay eggs, but for some time they bring their newborn cubs among the girasoles, because the cubs resemble pirarucus and other cartilaginous fish.
(2) These two and a half months of the author seem an error. For he himself at the beginning of ch. III of this book, speaks of August 21, as the date of departure from Belem do Para. This way the trip of the Bar of the Rio Negro lasted almost exactly two months. (Rev. Note, Ed. Improvements).

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