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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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how near were the arms of a friend, ready to welcome us with brotherly love. We were still unaware of the fact that already a noble Englishman, Robert Hesketh, - the sound of his name vibrates harmoniously in me, - even without knowing us, was already taking care of us, out of a feeling of pure humanity and interest in science. If we had been able to summon such a savior at every hint of danger, we would have had to give up the most beautiful acquisition of travel, the development of true courage.

It was a gray dawn, and here and there we began to notice, perched on the vivid green of the grass of the shores, innumerable flocks of the red guaras

(Tantalus ruber, L.), which gladly let their resplendent plumage shine. We took this vision of the beautiful birds as a good omen, and with a new soul we went on, favored by the wind of the land, through the mangroves, reaching, after one hour, the open sea.

Sao Luis today

Sao Luis, the old city

The Maranhao Island, where the capital, Sao Luis, was the target of our trip, is separated in the southern part by a narrow and shallow sea arm (Mosquito River), five leagues long and at most 300 feet wide.

Maranhao Island

This channel connects the two coves, St. Mark's Bay to the west and St. Jose's Bay to the east, separating the island from the mainland, and on the ebb these swollen waters are so emptied that they completely strip the banks, covered with mangroves.

Mangrovem, Rhizophora mangle

Sailing from here to the capital, located in the western part of the island, we navigate the Mosquito River, where, east of the mouth of the Mearim River, it is lost on the ground west of St. Mark's Bay; then it goes along the coast to the northeast. This course, which the river pilots estimate at 20 leagues, is unpleasant because of the delays due to the ebb and flow, and it is nonetheless dangerous on land because of the passage of Boqueirao, a zone of stumbling blocks in the vicinity of the port. We decided to take the shortest route across the island and let our luggage go by sea in the care of a single servant.
   
At Arraial Farm, where we disembarked, there were horses available to take travelers to the Bacanga River, where they embark again to reach the city. Before bringing horses from the pasture, we had the opportunity to learn about a branch of industry that we had never heard of before, that is, we saw deer hides, brought from the Mearim River, being cut and soaked in milk, with which they become very soft and delicate. The farmer, from Ceará, seemed confident in the industry, which used his cattle ranching material so jealously guarded. He showed us very well tanned deer and goat leather processed with a preparation that

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