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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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indolence of this race where men's property is based on the fact that they are aging and losing their teeth. Even the Indian’s movement does not reveal his age, for the youngest companions of the tribe also walk forward and at a small pace. The houses, or rather the small cliffs covered with palm leaves, line irregularly along the low, uncovered shore with the vegetation from the dirty, muddy upper Amazon and Solimoes swamps, but with beautiful espinhais, having open places on both sides, full of grasses. Anyone who has experienced the rugged impressions of one of these interminable groves can share the sense of freedom and well-being that seizes the traveler upon seeing himself in this new environment. These clear places were not formed by the cutting of the bush, but spontaneously. The aspect of the vegetation as a whole resembles in all that of the so-called capoes ("islands", of the tupi caapuam, properly "round bush") of Minas Gerais. These groves appeared to us, featuring several distinctive plants (among them, the Blakea trineris, with their magnificent flowers making roses), others already known from more southern areas. The firmament was cloudless, more cheerful than hitherto, over the variegated carpet of field and shrub vegetation. They say, however, that the region is subject to violent thunderstorms. Because almost all the colonies along the Amazon and Solimoes, located near the southernmost tributaries, are exposed in the same way to storms, the air currents of different regions of the world should be considered as a general result of this phenomenon.

During our stay in Coari, the excursions were limited, because it was necessary to rest our own garrison, after the excessive fatigue sustained until here, and the priest of the village only allowed us the few Indians, then present there, to accompany us . Two days before, an enormous crocodile, who lived in the neighborhood, and known to all of them for a long time, had waited at the hut of a returning Indian, and devoured him. We saw how the terrible beast and its generation played with the head of the wretch, and all the people were so terrified before the horrible spectacle that we gave up the project of canoeing the surrounding banks of the lake.

We set out from Alvelos, bound for Vila de Ega, a journey that takes place, up the river in four or five days, and down the river sometimes in half a day. As soon as the Lake of Coari had disappeared from our sight, the clouds of mosquitoes were once again upon us. We should consider ourselves happy, because we can spend the night, free of them, at Praia dos Sorubins. In this region, the coast of Tauana and Taua-Coara rises in the river, its ravines cluttered with white clay.

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