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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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produced by the “sailors” and pack rats, various species of flies and mosquitoes, and even more by the mucuins, an almost invisible pest, related to the Acarus, that intrudes on the skin and causes bubbles and, last of all, by the great Army of Ants.

Almost daily, in the continuing journey, I experienced such dangers and inconvenience. With alot of work and with happiness, my crew passed through the Castelhana Barrier, and we returned to the south, to the cove of Fonte Boa, a place whose inhabitants were almost all exterminated by intermittent fever. The extraordinary depopulation, throughout the whole of the Solimoes, was mainly due to the change of life of the Indians, who left their forests and the harsh existence to live in the way of the European settlers, easily exposed to the diseases. From Ega onwards, the terrain was always more heavily schrubbed; The shores, always higher, were animated by countless flocks of monkeys, parrots, parakeets, mutuns, etc.; There is evident overabundance of fish in the river.

The Indian nations, which live in the forests along this part of the Solimoes, are numerous, with a diversity of languages, customs and national characteristics. Here you will see Marauas, Juris, Passes, Jumanas, Catuquinas, Tecunas, Araicus (Uaraicus), etc. All these Indians walk more or less naked, feed on snakes, fish, monkeys, etc., and work on their farms, besides employing their bow and arrow, like the other tribes of the Solimoes, who also use the blowgun and poisoned arrows.

After three days, I departed from Fonte Boa, and still in the same afternoon and the next night, I passed in the midst of flocks of birds, turtles and crocodiles. Some King Vultures (Vultur Papa), countless storks and other birds invited me to enter the dark waters of Lago da Campina, in whose mouth I found myself. I arrived in front of a secluded hut in the woods which was established to prepare and dry the abundant Pirarucu. The proprietor, a mulatto, accompanied by some Indians and then joined by an even greater number of Indians, invited me to disembark; The few tons of thousands of turtles, I found on the shore, were, in fact, an interesting spectacle. These animals are everywhere captured, as soon as they end their egg laying posture when the rain is coming. For this endeavor, the indians chase the turtles, or, surround the turtles in the sand banks, or, seated on logs buried on the shore, the harpoon them in the neck as they pass, and pull them ashore. As beef is rare here, these turtles replace it, and all the villagers have a tank at home, where turtles are conserved as provisions for the winter.

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