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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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our servant fell ill from the same evil, so that we found ourselves in the sad situation, predicting the worst, looking for shelter on that last farm. During the outbursts of fever I was so delirious that Dr. Spix, who gave me the most careful care, thought it was typhoid; however, after the rest here, the disease took another turn, because after a few days it settled with the characteristics of intermittent fever, coming in only in the afternoon, but always with confusion of the senses and a strange weakness. The course of the servant's illness was not so favorable. With the most terrible convulsions, tremors and delirium, and even apoplexy, he passed away on the fourth day. To complete the series of ills, my faithful companion also fell ill, for a few hours after a bath, which he took in a shallow pool, his whole body was covered with painful tumors, which soon became inflamed. Under these circumstances, it seemed more reasonable to leave this unhealthy place in the midst of damp palm groves and to move to

Caixas today

Caxias as soon as possible. Since we were too weak to sit in the saddle, we hired black slaves from neighboring farms to carry us in suspended hammocks.

Typical ambulance in 1820

The moral sufferings we have endured in this passage were unspeakable, as we were both helpless and powerless, plagued by the cruelest uncertainty for the future, afraid for ourselves and the scientific results of our journey, and martyred by physical pain.

Thus we reached, next to Fazenda Sobradinho, the Parnaiba River, the most important water course between the Sao Francisco River and the Tocantins, and which, in its long course, forms the border between the provinces of Piaui and Maranhao.

Parnaiba River

Their murky, yellowish waters flow between gently sloping banks, about 200 feet wide. Although heavily contaminated by earthy and putrid materials, it nevertheless provides the only potable water for residents, who are therefore subject to constant intermittent fevers. Also our servants, who, to watch over the troops, spent the night by the river bank, immediately felt the ill effects of their emanations.

In the many farms, which are seen along the banks, upstream far in the direction S.W., which in the old days were almost exclusively dedicated to cattle rearing, today grow cotton.

Gossypium vitifolium, the cotton plant

The river flows very fast, but without waterfalls, coming from the southwestern part of the province of Piaui, usually through marshy land covered with virgin forests and bushes, or with carnaube and buritizal palm forests. The Rio das Balsas is well known to Brazilians only to its mouth since the regions above are almost without colonization, and are inhabited only by wandering tribes of the nations of Acro and Gogues. Upstream, is traveled by canoe; downstream mainly on rafts,

Canoe travel

Raft travel, the jangada

Old raft, the jangada

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