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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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As soon as the division is made, the egg collectors occupy the part of the beach assigned to them, each one stirs the sand, plumbing it in the depths of some feet, and find traces of eggs. The eggs lie at one or sometimes several layers, one on top of the other, so the yield varies at the various points on the beach. They are then unearthed as soon as possible because the eggs, at the end of seven a eight days, begin to rot. Thus, in a few hours, colossal mounds of eggs, of 15 to 20 feet in diameter and relative height, constitute an amazing spectacle;

Collecting eggs

and the sand, once flat, now turned upside down, full of potholes and mounds, is given over to the flood, so that it will flatten it again. In the early morning, the boats, well caulked, are filled halfway with eggs, which are broken with tridents of wood, similar to our forks, and finally crushed with their feet. As the eggs contain little clear and a lot of yolk, the mixture looks like a yellow potato, in which the pieces of bark are superimposed. Water is poured on top, and the mass is exposed to the tropical sun, which, after three to four hours, attracts thick oil to the surface, being the lighter ingredient. From there it was picked up with gourds and shells, and settled for refinement in large clay bowls. The process of crushing them with the feet is repeated in each canoe, stirring the porridge and harvesting it two to three times, obtaining most of the oil.

Preparing turtle butter

This mash has the color and consistency of beaten eggs. It is poured into large copper or iron kettles, placed on a low heat, where, for a few hours, it is stirred, foamed and clarified, whereupon the coagulated part precipitates. The liquid part, carefully removed, is cooked a second time over a low heat, until forming more bubbles, it takes the color and consistency of melted wax. The turtle butter, after cooling, is stored in large clay pans, wrapped in palm leaves or bark of tree, and so is brought to market. And, the sooner the eggs are unearthed, the tastier, purer, and fresher they are. With due preparation, the butter loses the smell of the turtle entirely, but always preserves the grease, to which only the Indian's taste is accustomed. When, however, the overly developed turtles rot in the sun, the smell and taste are extremely repugnant, and only to the Indians can it still be considered a snack. The oil of worse quality is used in the lamps, like oil of illumination. The number of pots of butter, annually prepared in the islands of Solimoes, amounts to more than 8,000, and those of the whole province to 15,000. Turtles avoid the beaches where harvests were

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