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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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last the demands of men call them to another occupation (1).

After the "toilette" of the little girls, they take care of the mothers of their own and of the grown girls, and only then is lunch eaten. The Indians do breastfeeding for a long time; I saw four-year-old boys here suckling in front of their mother. The rest of the family gather around the grill, which, full of meat since the evening, is on the fire, and they all eat quietly, with a restful well-being. If there is no food in hand, each will go to the neighbor's house or the bush if they are not satisfied with the biscuits, which are then roasted by the women, with manioc grated and squeezed fresh. These biscuits, one foot long and one inch thick, are savory, when eaten as soon as they leave the fire; cooling, they become like leather and are very difficult to digest. Healthier is a small, disc-shaped beiju-chica, to which women give the round shape, since the dough, roasted between discs of tupe stems, is well preserved, like a biscuit. As for dry cassava flour, it is scarce and only for trade.

Beiju-chica, tapioca biscuit

When the men disperse, some to hunt, others to fish, then the children are placed under the care of the mother, and this is the moment of the lesson, the teaching of small interested beings. The lesson of morality, even of simple good manners, is something that does not exist for these people; at most, it is a training for your progress among the others. The masters teach how to make a net,

to spin cotton in a free spindle,

to make crazy clay; the tasks of farming and cooking, the children learn by themselves. I myself learned it, gradually. Deference, discretion, and obedience are unknown to both children and parents. I have never seen them punished for transgressions of this order; only one time or another they were admonished, having used their father's arrows in his absence, or clogged the blowpipe, or eaten the delicacy stored for him, and these punishments were only the expression of a violent threat. In the hot hours of the day the men returned, and lay in the hammock, waiting for the meal to be prepared. When they are very hungry, they come at any moment to the fire with impatient greed. Otherwise, they disguise the waiting, playing the harmonica, an instrument in which the Chief Miguel achieved great virtuosity. They played with the tame monkeys and domestic birds, or repeated the bath, which daily

(1) In newborns and small children, the eyelashes, face, chest and bottoms are painted with a multitude of lines and arabesques, and the tenderness of the mothers does not cease to add new ones to them. Girls and older boys paint themselves when somebody in the family does not help them. When I once saw a grandmother busy painting her granddaughter with urucu,

I added, for a joke, exquisite arabic sketches on the girl's forehead and cheeks, and, being enchanted, she asked for more. And still more: the next morning as I left my hut, I found a line of women and girls, parked before her; the grandfather advanced to me, bringing a bowl of urucu, and he grunted at me the request to make in all those beauties the paintings of the evening …

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