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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Indian prepares another remedy of similar value, baking a few pieces in the fire and adding drops of the musk that the crocodiles have under the neck in two glands. It is reduced to powder and whole bone ls tied over the wound, to suck the poison. This preparation, with a strong musky smell, seems to be extremely effective when injected in the ear to cure deafness.

We had passed the Arauato hole, 12 leagues distant from the first mouth of Lake Saraca, when a terrible thunderstorm broke out from the south of Madeira.

It lasted two hours, and we were happy to have found shelter on the high bank of an island.

These storms are constant here, particularly during the rainy season; probably, their formation is allied to the continuous agitation of the atmosphere above the two rivers that are here. When we were anchored, an small canoe full of Indians came to us,

wanting to wait with us for the thunderstorm to abate. They were residents of Silves, headed for the beach of Tamandua, in Madeira, where they were going to gather turtle eggs.

Harvesting turtle eggs

They were men of fair stature, of sympathetic features, conversant, and perfectly managing the general language, also a little Portuguese, giving us evidence of a certain degree of civilization. None of them had a tribal label, and they could not tell from which tribe they descended. One of them carried a stone from the Amazon around his neck, bound by a thread of cotton thread, a certain stone from the Amazon, a parallelogram of one and a half inches long and two lines of thickness. He placed great value on this amulet, which he would not trade for any price. Besides this example, we have seen, during the whole trip, only one more of these stones in Obidos,

which we obtained for the Ethnographic Museum of Munich. It has the form of a saber or an axe, with a claw beside it, but it is still startling, maybe below half size. The stone was so well cut and polished that it was a mystery how the Indians of the Amazon, who were unaware of the use of any metal, could achieve such perfection. According to the information collected in this respect, I think it is probable that these stones of the Amazon came from the Indians of upper Peru. (Note III). These stones are not, in addition, the only amulets they wear on their neck against diseases, snake bites and other evils. They likewise recommend the murachite, carved on the back of the river shell, a handmade ornament, or a piece of mother-of-pearl, or any rounded fish bone.

Watershed of the Madeira river

On October 15, we saw a large sandbank to the east and a low, wooded promontory to the west at the mouth of the mighty Madeira River.

Mouth of the Madeira river

Although it appeared bipartite like a large island, however, before us, from the north bank to that river, we discovered a true sea of fresh water. It was almost noon, when

Mouth of the Madeira river

 

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