Remember the Rainforest 1
Among the diversions that entertained us in Manacaru, I must also cite the intoxicated birds. The forests, especially in the interior of the continent, are populated by beautiful species of pigeons,
Pigeons, the Columbidae
and, although there is no lack of food for these birds, they sought with great greed the grains of barley, which we threw at them. In the evening, the bait was, soaked in grated cassava juice, a fresh, strong drug for them. When they ate the bait, they could no longer fly high and fell palpitating in our hands. It is a known fact that many farmers employ, likewise, the cassava juice, somewhat thickened by exposure to the sun, in order to prevent the devastation that parrots and other birds do in the sowing of corn, rice and beans. The soggy grains absorb enough venom to numb the birds, when they swallow the seeds from the ground.
Excursions of this kind, such as the one we made to Manacaru, in which we had the opportunity to observe the uniformity with which the Kingdom of animals and plants are presented throughout the Amazon, made us determined to extend our observations farther. We speculated that the trip to the west of Barra do Rio Negro, would perhaps reveal to us the boundaries that nature establishes in its products between the upper and lower basin of the Amazon River.
We preferred the Solimoes route to the Negro, because, according to the latest news, in many places in the basin of this last river there were mighty reigns of evil fevers, to which we could not expose our state of health. Moreover, Mr. Zani had offered to accompany us to the village of Ega.
Manaus to Ega
For more rapid and more pleasant journey, we embarked with our companions in two canoes without sails, fitted at the stern with a single sheet awning measuring 36 feet long and 4 to 6 feet wide, which offered shade for six rowers and three to four passengers.
The sergeant was given the order to go forward, in our large canoe, taking the supplies to Ega. Of the three soldiers who saw us being given custody of the canoe, two left at Barra, because of improprieties in our service, and, had it not been for some Indians from the lower province, we would have been dealing with unfamiliar equipment on our own.
(cont. p 166 footnote)