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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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From the bank, one sees a large part of the Amazon, which, up to the first island,

Marapata island

is a league wide, and thence extends in several canals estimated at seven leagues. Air is pure; the horizon, relatively vast for these regions, is clear and serene; the heat almost daily is attenuated by a gentle breeze, which blows upstream, and the plague of mosquitoes did not bother us too much. The nearest banks are covered with groves of trees, here and there, interrupted by overturned rocks, changing into dense brush or grassland, where they graze some cattle. Further in, they say that vast fields extend, almost always around fish-filled ponds, much sought after by locals in the dry months. To the east of the village, there is a government plantation, with dwelling house, where the current commander lives.

Etching 55 Banana plantation

 

We found there long lines of Goiabeiras, and on the bank near the river a banana plantation with an incredible expanse. Here, as in the whole of the Amazon, the

Musa paradisiaca

long indigenous banana (Musa paradisiaca, L.) of Brazil is planted, and which, under the name of the “banana of the earth”, is distinguished from the banana of

Musa sapientum

Sao Tome (Musa sapientum L.) which is smaller and rounded. The first one is less sweet indeed, but also less ripe, because it only develops its peculiar aroma when it is hung in an airy and warm place. It is preferred, among other species, by Indians, who know how to prepare various delicacies. The amount of bananas that even a small banana plantation produces is incredible. The bunches weigh 80 pounds.

Acacia tree, the Uacacu, the poison tree

Acacia

Near the Guava trees, we see a large Uacacu (1), the cursed poison tree, which the Indians use to drug (2) the fish. It was decided to try this juice in our fishing, and soon some Indians took care of obtaining the poison. In the deep slit of one-and-a-half inch, made in the lower part of the trunk, a cane straw was applied, and in three hours a milky, almost unscented juice trickled down into two bottles. A little of this juice, placed on the tip of the tongue, produced an acrid, pungent flavor, and, lingering more, lingering redness. It was of the consistency of very fat milk, and, after staying an hour in the bottle, deposited a viscous substance, called Caseosa.

(1) The author writes the word, but in general the ancient spelling was assacu. The milk of the euphorbiacea (Hura crepitam or Hura brasiliensis), according to Almeida Pinto (ob. Cit., P.54), besides serving "to make the fish inebriate", was also used "for the healing of the Elephantiasis by the Greeks". (Nola da rev., Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).

Hura creitans


(2) Tinguijar is not of Martius. It was the best form that the translator referred to for the expression “die Fische betauben, "which, at the foot of the letter, means" to numb the fish. "We have, however, that Brazilianism, because it is current in the common language and in the dictionary. There is four indigenous toxic plants, used in the sea region for fishing: the timbo (Serjana cuspidata), and the turari (Paulinia grandiflora), the red Cruape (Paulinia pinnata) and tingui (Mahonia glabatra).

Serjania cuspidata, the timbo

Paulinia grandiflora

Paulinia pinnata

Mahonia nervosa

As you can see, timbo and tingui are different vegetables. whose names originate from the verb tinguijar. It is possible that the verb and its derivation taken so far, that today cover all the plants used for fishing, in our country. The Lusitanos were not surprised by this process of fishing, practiced by our forest people, because in Portugal it is also done, for the same purpose, in the crosshairs. (Rev. Note, Ins. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).

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