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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Maraca tree

Maracas provided us with some shade that softened the torment of the heat; water, was nowhere to be found. We found some residents eagerly collecting

Anona silvestre, the wild pineapple

water from the cavities formed at the base of the ananas silvestre leaves. This water, though contaminated by insects and roe eggs, was a delight to these wild countrymen. At Umbauva Farm we bought a pouch of water for a guilder; but distributed among the staff, the small amount did not seem to quench thirst, but made it more unbearable. Our people were angry with the inhabitants, saying that they did not want to yield anything from their provisions, not even water from their sources and cisterns.

Genipapo today

At Genipapo, another ranch, our men broke into an old man's house, unresponsive to our protests, and seized a bowl of water, which he had hidden under his bed. After the elder assured them that although he was almost blind, that his only son would fetch this water daily from three hours away; our burglar and his helpers emptied the pot, which was swarming with worms. At night, however, the consequences of the reprehensible violence were felt, as they were all affected by a strong fever. At the Patos Farm, where we stayed overnight, the animals found a small time of green water, to which they eagerly rushed. That cheered them up, ensuring that the greatest difficulty had been overcome, for in

Coite, before the drought

the little village of Coite, after six anguishing leagues, an abundant fountain gushed from the cliff. On the afternoon of March 4, we arrived at this place of promise; which was not fulfilled, however, when we saw it closely! In a crevice of granite rock, an accessible moat had been deepened, and here was a person with a gourd catching the dripping water. More than 30 individuals, women and girls, were gathered around this source in the desert, waiting in line according to the order of the local judge, present there. The men brought rifles, in case of need, to assert the rights of their own. Was there water enough for the exhausted animals, one dared not ask; And even the men, when I asked for a sip, gave the arrogant reply: "The water here is only for us, not for vagabond English." A retired soldier brought us some water, and advised us to travel the same evening, partly because we could not be assured of security here, partly because, northwest of Coite and perhaps near the road, there had been thunder earlier. We resolved to follow this advice, since, several mules had refused service and, in addition, seeing our attackers were dazed by violent bouts of fever, it seemed to us that greater delay would threaten us with general disaster. In the impatience of despair, we urged the troop forward, and finally in Cisterna,

Cisterna

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