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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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I only made a few strides on the beach, as well as the frogs, at their time of spawning, and I staggered back, seeing a flock of gators, one beside the other with only their evil eyes, their side and their tail out of the water, as they waited to voraciously snatch the stubble of fish, opening and closing their long gullets.

We continued our journey upriver along the banks, full of ponds and streams. After three days, we passed by the mouth of the Jutai River, which is half an hour wide. This great river of sewage is inhabited, in the neighborhood of its mouth, by Indians of the

Mura,

Macarari, and others; further into the interior, and still completely unknown. They wear bones in the lobes of the ears and in both lips, but they are not tattooed.

The men cover themselves with a piece of cloth and wrap around their bellies, legs and ankles fringed strips of cotton fabric, which they never remove; the women walk naked. Weddings are celebrated, or not, with dances, according to the consent of the bride's parents. If a Maraua has a brother, only he can take a wife. After birth, the mother washes the child in warm water, lies in the hammock for three weeks, and feeds only birds, as well as her husband, with a porridge of cassava flour, certain birds and fish. When the mother rises, the older relative of the newly born, in a dark room, gives it a usual name in the family. The process of piercing the child's lips is done soon thereafter and solemnized with a feast. When the child reaches ten or twelve years old, the father inscribes four lines on his mouth; after that, the boy fasts five days. The boys, when they are older, are flagellated with a short stick, an operation considered as a sign of character. His feasts are celebrated on the new moon. They believe that, after death, the good go to the company of a kind being, the bad to the devil. The bodies are buried in common, in a hut.

A day later, I crossed to the northern shore of the Solimoes, and reached, escaping with happiness from some storms, seven days after the departure of Fonte Boa, the town of Tonantin.

Tonantin

This river is born only a few days' journey, further north, towards the Japura. Here there are many cassava farms.

Caixanas today

Tonantin is inhabited by the tribe of the Caixanas, who are known to feed on crocodiles, and a few years ago killed their missionary. At my appearance in their dwellings in the bush they were frightened at first, but soon they left the huts, the men all naked and behind them several of their wives and children, their faces speckled with black and red, trimmed with strips of brambles and feathers on their arms and legs. Their conical roofs are made with leaves of the palm tree, and have a low part, where the people and the animals enter.

Indian houses

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