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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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excellent fruits, arranged in rows, three feet apart from the citrus, and, as it seemed, they had recently been stripped of their leaves. These, the size of the leaf of the cherry tree, pale green, with delicate texture and herbaceous flavor, which in the mouth becomes bittersweet, somewhat astringent, with a pleasant aroma, are put to dry by the Indians in the shade or in ovens, where they roast the farina; then they are either mixed with the grains of wood alone or with the finely powdered ashes of the leaves of the white embauba (Cecropia palmata), and, finally, the powder is preserved in a hollow tube. The Indians usually carry with them this thin, greenish-gray powder, with which they fill their mouths from time to time, just as the Turks do with opium and tobacco smokers with the smoke of the roll, to stimulate themselves, and above all , to actually calm down, for some time, the need for food and sleep.

It increases, therefore, the secretion of the saliva, produces sensation of heat and of a full stomach, so it reduces hunger; taken in small quantity, it produces joviality and energy, and thus distracts from care; but, in large doses, it causes drowsiness, and especially nerve weakness. I had occasion to see in Japura how the chief of a horde of Miranhas,

Miranha chief

who was about to embark on a long warlike expedition, provided each of his companions with a regular dose of this powder, by means of a spoon, made of manatee bone, to guard against weariness. When the Indian rests in the hammock, he takes a small portion from time to time and holds it for a long time in the swollen cheeks, in order to cradle himself in dreams, to which his indolence disposes him so much. As is well known, the custom of taking the ipadu, called coca is widespread among the Indians of Peru; and I am convinced that it was from there that it spread to Brazil. So these uncultured peoples also acquire the fashions and habits of their more highly civilized neighbors (Note VI).

While Dr. Spix took advantage of our delay here to collect some specimens (all these animals were often caught in the lake and in the nearby canals), I carried on my excursions beyond Tefe to Nogueira, once Parauari. This village is situated two leagues west-northwest of Ega, in a somewhat higher, extraordinarily fertile and pleasant region on the western bank (1).

Rivers of Amazon Basin

In passing, we noticed in front of the church, in the bank of the river, a row of Indians, naked in the presence

 

(1) This pleasant and healthy situation explains the transfer of the town here, after having already been in two other localities of the neighborhood. In 1753, they made here a Carmelite mission.

Carmelite order of the Catholic church

Thanks to its salubrious position, many whites have also settled here. The Indians fused together, forming a uniformed people, who speak the Tupi language.

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