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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Two days of travel, in which we conquered about twelve leagues, took us to the mouth of the small River Catua or Catual, name which, in several atlases, is designated Coari. The ground here appeared to be lower, unequal, and more densely planted; sometimes with a gigantic sumaumeira.

Sumaumeira

The natural plantations of cacao and sarsaparilla were less impressive than the abundance of fish in these small western rivers, Camucua and Cajame, and in the Jitica-Parana (river of the potatoes, in fact, and a lake), that determined the nomadic Muras to domicile in these regions.

We had been warned of their assaults and depredations, and for that we arranged to stand guard at night; so we were only disturbed by the mosquitoes.

In Jitica-Parana, a factory was set up for the fishing of the manatees, which now,

Manatees

with the flooding of the waters, Ega should be well-supplied.

The Solimoes, at these places, is divided among numerous islands, and spreads

Solimoes river

itself to more than a league wide. In fact, the aspect of this enormous river was impressive : a labyrinth of impetuous rapids, which, sometimes is even faster, spill out as a thickened mass, above which the undulating plumes of the acai palm, or the slender trunks of the embaubas

Acai palm

with their whitish foliage sway like gigantic stepping stones cross the water. We sailed upstream, on the southernmost side of the river. On November 25, we reached the mouth of the River Tiete.

Rio Tete

It is limited to the east by a steep clay ravine, to the west by a low island, revealing the superb spectacle of its vast basin, into which the river spreads. The majestic, tranquil lake with its sandy beaches, further inland, is surrounded by thriving bushes, whose fronds arch in a dome against the blue of the sky, creating an extremely pleasant impression. Once we entered the lake, we were attracted by a spectacle of an entirely different kind. The calm waters of the lake were inhabited by a large number of crocodiles, who seemed to live together as a family.

Among them the largest, which we had seen here, were twenty and more feet in length. Many of them stayed in the water, others swam around us, and did not seem to be frightened by the boat, They were even attracted to it. One of the larger ones came straight at us to scare us and was so determined, that an Indian, then in the bow, feared that he wanted to try to climb aboard. He smacked him, but the monster grasped his outstretched hand, and held it, fortunately only with one tooth, so that he could only pluck the nail and flesh of a finger. Only after a rifle shot in his thick armor, similar to tree bark, did the animal give up the pursuit without being truly wounded.

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