Remember the Rainforest 1
in the interior, to the south, and only in the greater distance of the Amazon and that limited by the lands of Minas.
(III) Of all the great rivers that are thrown into the Amazon on the meridional side, the Xingu is the one that has been least navigated; its springs and its southern tributaries are still entirely unknown (1) and only marked on the maps according to the indistinct information of the people of the outback. The following news, I had the opportunity to obtain in Porto de Moz from the colored men who had traveled in the lower basin of the Xingu.
Alto Amazonas. upper basin + lower basin, Grao Para
From that village onwards to Sousel, a more southern colony, which lies just 16 leagues from Porto de Moz, the river is generally one league wide.
On the green waters, the islands appear here and there, and offer various enchanting scenes on their banks of clear sands, sometimes extending far, and in which sandy beaches are alternated with stretches of virgin forest.
Island in the Amazon river
The sky is constantly clear and pure; frequent thunderstorms refresh the atmosphere, and, apart from the plague of mosquitoes, which, in closed swarms, plague many places in the river, and the relative scarcity of rich soil in the groves, the inhabitants are forced to surrender to a more profitable fishery, which all the more encouraged settlements to be founded there. The regions furthest from the river are of uncommon fertility. Measles and smallpox are the only acute endemic diseases; however, when the contagion of the measles epidemic spread throughout the state in the middle of the last century, great devastation took place in the Indian population.
Close to Sousel, the terrain is rising, without, however, hindering the course of the river; To this first elevation the hills and mountains belong, on the east; probably, are those that form the climb to the very fishy Rio Jaruacu, to Ielo to the Xingu; from its southern slopes the springs of the Turicuri flow into the river, that turns east between valleys, to meet the great river. The river also runs with a diminished width in a mountainous region, where fields and forests alternated, becoming more numerous, the further one moves southwards. Above the Turicuri, the general slope of the terrain is interrupted, and along its course and in the two rivers, the Tocantins and the Tapajos, cataracts form, forcing the Turicuri further south to make two great curves.
Just here at the curves said inhabitants, they traveled to harvest Maranhao clove; but some expeditions, undertaken to search for Indians in the colonies below, reached the south, overcoming several rapids and falls, beyond the mouth of the Rio Guiriri. Above the falls, the river almost always runs through fields, and it is assumed that this a gold-producing area.
It is said that, in the year 1819, a lieutenant of militias traveled by the Xingu, coming from Cuiaba. It must, therefore, be believed that its navigation is not so painful; the route is even shorter than that of the neighboring Tapajos; and was probably attempted as soon as the lands north of Cuiaba became better known.
(IV) The Tapajos River (History) - Even before the Pedro Teixeira expedition,
the Portuguese knew the lower basin of the Tapajos, and according to an unreliable author (Manuel Rodriguez, "Maranon", page 138) , the English had taken two expeditions along this river, probably with the intention of finding gold, but almost all had lost their lives there.
According to the account of Acuna, the brave Tapajocos lived at its mouth, armed with poisoned arrows. The river derived its name from them.
One of its villages seems to contain more than 500 families. It is worth mentioning that the name of this nation no longer appears among those that currently live on the banks of the Tapajos and those of its tributaries, and that even the use of poisoned arrows no longer exists there. It may be that the cruel treatment of the Tapajocos, inflicted by the Portuguese, has completely wiped them out, or that it has led them to flee westward to places where they may never met European immigrants again.
The Tapajos, at first, was almost simultaneously navigated from the south to the north. The news that it originated from the meeting of Juruena with Arinos, was given by the inhabitants of Mato Grosso and
(1) The sources of the Xingu were explored only in 1884 by one of the foreign scholars to whom the Brazilian ethnography, Karl von den Steinen, owes much. (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).