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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Upon this path of commerce, the inhabitants of Manaus were even more dependent, because in the Western markets, in Quito, Chachapoias and Caxamarca, they find industry products, destined for colder lands, not suitable for them. The breeding of lamb and the manufacture of the various usual fabrics in Peru (Baietones, panetes, Jergas, etc.) were of no interest to the inhabitants of the hot zones, and the coarse cottons (tocujos), with which the class of the people in general are dressed, are woven by indians on both sides of the mountain range. They are imported from Caxamarca to Manaus only through manufacturers in Peru. Brazil does not exchange with these provinces their own products, but simply imported European articles. Manaus, however, exports the production of its fertile soil, that is, cocoa, salsaparilla, Vanilla, Balsamo of Copaiba, bark of Quaker, some tobacco and cotton. Cocoa, Salsaparilla and Copalba Balsamo are mainly transported from the masses by the Ucaiale, where, as in the Rio Negro they are harvested from the wild trees by the Indians. The croton (Cascarilla) comes not only from the outskirts of Moiobamba, but also from Lamas, Chachapoias, from the slopes of the Caxamarquilla mountain range and from the upper Guallaga basin; All these species are labeled, when first, second and third quality. Over time, I have been aware, in Para that many dealers are fraudulent and the croton trade in Manaus is not safe. Cocoa and Salsaparilla come from Manaus more abundantly than the croton. With the very fine cotton of Ucaiale, Spanish speculators made attempts that, however, were unfruitful, because the required prices are not in line with the prices of Para. Sugar and coffee thrive excellently in all Manaus, just as well as other products of the country, chestnuts of Maranhao, copal (Jitaicica), estopa and pitch for caulk, white and black bee’s wax, Anil and various products for farming and fishing, are not exported, because they are also Solimoes products. Only the salt is more easily transported downstream from Manaus than from the sea coast to there, by way of the Solimoes. We saw large blocks of mineral salt (Jukira Kitan), packaged and brought from Manaus. It was bluish-grey and should do nicely for table salt.

The sea salt from Setubal is still one of the most important and appreciated articles of import of the province downstream, and in small amounts it is valuable as currency. It is not transported in sacks, but in rough baskets, woven with palm leaves. Undoubtedly, it would be advantageous for the Brazilian government to charge the lowest possible price for the import of salt, and, with this, invest in cattle, which in Solimoes are very scarce. Even the largest colonies do not have more than 50 or 60 head, and there is the prejudice that the cows should not be mingled.

Manaus dealers accept as a trade for their aforementioned products, iron utensils, steel, tin, copper, munitions, weapons, fabrics for thinner clothing, silk fabrics, hats, mirrors, beads and other objects made by the Indians. The poverty of both countries in cash does not favor sales with paper money (Spanish escudos and Portuguese gold). In general, the transfer is made by exchanging goods, and then the custom is to charge a price a fifth or sixth higher than the exchange offered.

Between Loreto and Tabatinga, as frontier places, whose inhabitants visit each other frequently, there is a large scale retail business, in which Brazilians should have the advantage.

Amazon from Manaus to western frontier

The Brazilian tradesmen with whom I had the opportunity to talk about these commercial transactions, all travelled the Maranon and Guallaga, regarding these rivers as places where most all villages are situated. The Ucaiale, where they say four to five colonies are found, the Ica, the Napo, the Tigre and the Pastaza, had not yet been navigated by these dealers, and also the traffic downstream of these rivers is extremely insignificant. The ancient Franciscan missions of the Ica River are now so deserted, that only some rare traveler goes down the Maranon. That religious order of the Jesuits had 22 missions, in the upper region of Napo, which currently must also be found in a precarious or completely extinct state.

Otherwise there is free communication with Napo, in whose upper basin there must be abundant formation of gold ore, and you may navigate this great river, a natural fluvial path from Quito to Maranon, without fear of hostile indians.

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