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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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They are harmless ones, but little given to work, feeding on their small cultivation of corn and cassava, as well as fishing and hunting, without other needs. In the village of Olivenca, two leagues south of the village of Sao Jorge, live about 800 of these Indians; however, it is said, they have already mingled there with the descendants of the war. The municipal administration, made by a judge chosen from their midst, assisted by a single Portuguese registrar, grants them certain freedoms. The vast majority of people in this place are engaged in the manufacture of piacaba coconuts rosaries. As I am told, they have shipped to Bahia in a few years the value of a thousand cruzados from these accounts, although on the spot a rosary costs only ten reis. Others are engaged in making ropes, brooms, mats, with the fibers of piacaba, and coconut straw hats, also then dying with redwood or tatajiba, these hats and cotton cloths. The physical constitution of these coastal Indians is robust and their physiognomy is much more sympathetic than that of the Sabujas and the Cariris; They are good rowers and swimmers, and when they decide to work, on behalf of the farmers, through daily wages, they proceed with persistence and great manners in clearing the woods. Of their primitive language we find no trace among them; They all speak a distorted Portuguese. These Indians seemed to me, of all I had the opportunity to observe in Brazil, the most assimilated to the Europeans. In this sense, it is noteworthy that they are much more prolific compared to other Indians, averaging six individuals in each family.

Ilheus river today

The Ilheus River is exactly the common mouth of three water courses, the Cachoeira River, the middle and larger one, which rises in the Serra Itaraca, some twenty leagues distant; the Rio do Engenho, to the south; and the Fundao River, to the north, with only a few leagues in length.

Its banks are covered with dense virgin forests, which, at one point or another, gave way to rocks or small mills, inferior to those of the Reconcavo. The only major sugar cane plant, which occupies 260 slaves, producing 9,000 to 10,000 arrobas of sugar, a reasonable amount of foodstuffs and some cotton, is the Santa Maria Mill on Rio do Engenho. It belongs to our friend who hosted us in Bahia, Mr. Felisberto Caldeira, and, at his invitation, should be our stop during our visit to Ilheus. We preferred, however, to land as much as possible on the coast, to enter the majestic woods of the surroundings; and on this trip we were excited to find in Almadas, seven leagues away from the village, some German countrymen who had settled there. It is customary not to travel overland, going to that region, but to take the Itaipe River, which

Etching 18 Martius and Spix on Itaipe river

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