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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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We continued then travel to the village of Ega, distant near two leagues from the mouth of the Tefe.

Manaus to Ega on Amazon river

Since our departure from the Coari every afternoon had been marked by violent storms, and now the sky was suddenly numb,

a strong west wind was hitting the lake, and obliging us to follow the impulse of the waves with candle harvested, taking such violence that we were at risk of going down. We therefore touched the ship to a point of land with closed bush, which we reached by so high waves, that, instead of running aground on the sand of the shore, we plowed into the branches of a low tree, which the wind had bent into the water. We were thus suspended in the air; and it was only thanks to the concentrated efforts of the crew that jumped out of the canoe that it was secured to the tree with cables against the tremendous shock of the waves, until the storm passed, and we were able to restore the canoe to its element by striking the strongest branches. We stayed here, and the next morning we reached the destination, where the sergeant was meeting us with our big canoe.

Ega, or Tefe

The village of Ega, called Tefe by the Indians, is situated on the eastern shore of this widening of the Tefe River, just at the point where it has the largest width of a German mile.

Tefe river at Ega, or Tefe

A stream, coming from the continent to the east, bathes the flooded plain that, rising like an amphitheater, divides into two unequal parts the land.

Town of Ega or Tefe

The houses of Vila de Tefe, in a street along the bank, are all paved over and built of mud, with wooden shutters instead of glass and covered with palm leaves.

Only by the size of the locks on the doors do they differ from the clashes that we had seen in many villages of Indians. The houses form an uneven street along the shore of the lake, some further in and others in the square, around the church and the house of the military commander, the one who had a porch, was built like the country houses of Belem do Para.

The number of inhabitants must amount to about 600 souls. In spite of these circumstances, one must designate Ega as a tiny letter on the map of Solimoes, for its name that may be deserved only on the occasion in which the last Commission of Limits Luso-iberica (from 1782 to 1788), reunites, to establish its headquarters here. The presence, then, of many foreigners from Peru and Manaus caused unusual animation, and relatively considerable commerce (Note IV). As, however, a village of a few hundred Indians is required for the service of the Commission, and many indians had retired for many years from their dwellings, the Commission thus argued that the depopulation of these villages disqualified them from the protection of the Portuguese crown; This became very unpopular among the patriots. Ega had, in that old time, double the population.

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