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groundwater is reported, and the island's numerous springs, such as Santo Antonio Beach and Santa Maria dos Remedios, have a low iron content. However, they have no trace of carbonic acid gas. They are already used as healing waters, in the form of baths.


It seems that limestone on the island and its mainland neighborhoods is not exploited; the pieces we observed in the buildings of Alcantara seemed to be imported from Portugal.

Old Alcantara

A great excursion, undertaken with Mr. William Hesketh and Francisco Manuel Alves Caldas, brought us to know the physical peculiarities of the mainland near the village of Alcantara, on the northwest bank, where Mr. Caldas owns large farms. We left the city early in the morning, thanks to the ebb tide, which took our small boat to the middle of the bay. We passed, besides the pleasant Fazenda do Bonfim, former property of the Jesuits, located in a protruding tongue of land, by the Ilha do Medo, by Boa Esperanca and others. Here the sea had a violent current coming from the bay towards Viana. We easily beat it with the help of the land wind, which usually blows stronger in the middle of the bay, and after traveling six hours we anchored in the port of Alcantara.

Alcantara today

This town, after Sao Luis the most important point of the province, was formerly the capital of Cuma's captaincy and was called Tapuitapera. (Note V). Its main side faces the sea, in a steep elevation to the bank, and offers a beautiful view. A part of the village stretches far inland, through a virgin valley. Many newly built houses made of stone, and big businesses on the streets, give the idea of the burgeoning and growing well-being of its residents, whose number is estimated at 8,000. Most of them, however, do not always reside here; They spend more than half a year on their farms, where good cotton is grown.

Cotton plantation

In the neighborhood of the city, by the seafront, there are several salty lagoons, whose exploitation is leased by the government to certain people for the negligible price of a thousand reis a year. They are four to five feet deep, separated from the sea by gentle transverse elevations, communicating with it by narrow gates, which, during the months of June to August, allow seawater to enter, so that it evaporates in about a month, by December, leaving a crust of salt. This salt is scraped and packaged, without any processing, in baskets of palm leaves. 15,000 to 20,000 bushels of salt are produced annually, part of which is for Maranhao consumption, and another part is transported to Para. Our salt meter indicated a cubic foot of seawater would produce two pounds of salt.

Salt plains