Remember the Rainforest 1
and brought back to pull the canoe against the stream. On the high banks and in the vicinity of sandbars, a second rope is tied, so as not to damage the canoe if the first one is broken. Work is still hampered, moreover, by the closed vines and thorn bushes, or by the sudden collapse of the mud bank, when it is undermined underneath, which makes the landing of the soldiers more difficult.
This exhausting northern navigation of Paricatiba Island took us 3 entire days. This island is almost everywhere covered with plantations of cocoa, and the view of the rows of leafy trees compensates in some way for the lack of other evidence about the industry of the population. Only a few potholes in the fields and farmhouses are seen in the coves and next to the streams of the island, that we cross in several places, in order to know its vegetation. It was here, for the first time, that we found the palm tree popunha (Guillielma speciosa, Mart.) in a dense grove on the bank. Among all the Brazilian palm trees, which provide food, and therefore, have more importance to the domestic economy of the Indians, to the point of being cultivated by them, this palm deserves to be described in detail in the notes (Note V).
Guillielma speciosa, the Popunha palm
Popunha palm grove
On the third day, we reached the vast farm of Capitao Cavalcanti; which is still a league from the village of Obidos.
A somewhat high place, was chosen by the farmer for his country house, because of the annual overflow of the river.
There we noticed before us the village to the NW reclining on a knoll, that was covered with clumps of groves, and the river, tightening in its bed, was spreading with higher waves and forming swirls with the middle of insurmountable depth. The whole of the northern bank has hills showing white, abrupt clumps between closed brush, which, later, in Obidos, we had occasion to verify; these clumps consist of a recent clayey stoneware, on which lie a ferruginous conglomerate and layers of colored chalk. The narrow bed of the river, without islands, before which we found ourselves, was called, in the general language, pauxis, forming, in the gigantic Amazonas, a remarkable geographic feature. Its width was determined trigonometrically, by the Portuguese commission of limits, at 869 bracas (La Condamine estimates it at 905 toezas). As I reserve the general description of the river for our return trip, it seems more opportune to leave for then the more detailed news about this place.
With the east wind blowing in the afternoon, we sailed along the southern shore, through this narrow freshwater. The south bank does not have the usual flatness, and, with this, it makes a strange contrast to the northern, whose rounded clay hills are covered with shrubs. The most diverse forms are seen east of the village, above the strait.
(I) Pupunha-maraja. (N.T.).