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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Caxias, always parallel to its southern neighbor, the Parnaiba River, in the northeast direction; near this village the Parnaiba heads northwest and, making many turns, throws itself into the sea.

From Caxias upwards, it is only navigable in canoes, due to the low water, and for the numerous waterfalls, until the region of the parish of Pastas Bons or Sao Bento das Balsas. Downstream, however, it allows large and heavily loaded vessels, being, even out of flood time, almost 60 to 80 feet wide all along the way. Just at that point a barge was departing Maranhao, offering safe and pleasant travel, so we abbreviated the stay in Caxias,

Caxias

and on the afternoon of June 3 we set our tent atop 350 bales of cotton on the barge 20 feet above the river. Sailing on this bad boat was so slow that only on the thirteenth day did we reach the mouth of the Parnaiba.

Rafting on Rio Parnaiba

Delta of Rio Parnaiba

Invariably at night the evil mosquitoes appeared in dense swarms, so the journey was not only long but also full of martyrdom. The river, whose bed is made of friable grains, carves innumerable curves, so that it is necessary to navigate with the utmost caution when the current is faster so that the boat does not run aground on the sandbanks or be thrown toward the bluffs. The first of these rapids arrived on the third day, near Fazenda Barriguda;

A fazenda, or farm in province of Piaui

to secure the passage, the boat was tied with ropes to the trees of the bank, and it was allowed to travel only very slowly. The navigable channel is in the middle of the river. On either side, clumps of Indian palm leaf stalks (common here)

 

were placed to facilitate floatation, and our barge easily overcame both all these impediments, and the next day, the waterfalls of Angical and Gato, whose channel extends along the right bank of the river. Below the mouth of the affluent Codo River, whose banks are inhabited by wild Indians, the forested bank rises abruptly, and the river rushes sharply over a cliff, leaving clear navigable water only on the north bank.

In this place, Cachoeira Grande, the barge had to be refitted. Although the cables were broken, by which means the master sought to slow the barge, this danger was also overcome with happiness, and thereafter the journey went forward without tribulation. Even the sandbar, because the river flooded in April, was still full of water. We could now see, 20 feet above the mirror of the river, the remnants of the flood, which had uprooted many trees, imposing dangerous obstacles to the passage of the boat. Although the valleys carrying the water rose steep and closed, the buildings on the neighboring farm were badly damaged. The further away we got from Caxias, the more numerous were the farms, whose extensive houses indicated the opulence of their owners.

Farmhouse near Caxias

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