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Remember the Rainforest 1



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The weather was also very unfavorable here, because it rained without ceasing. On the second day, my orders were carried out when 30 Tecuna brought me birds of incomparable beauty, of the most varied plumage. Here and in Olivenca particularly, these magnificent birds are abundant. The Tecunas, it is not only our hunters who do the skinning, and for the operation they only use a wooden blade. In four days the supply was so great that I filled four boxes.

From Tabatinga it takes 24 hours to to arrive in Loreto, where the Pevas Indians live. It is the first Spanish settlement with a commander and some troops. To the west, the name of Maranon (in Portuguese Maranhao) is used, and instead of the Brazilian or Tupi language, the Indians and the lower townspeople speak in the common Peruvian language, Quichua (Inca language).

I would gladly go westward toward the Cordillera, especially since the Spanish commander had invited me, as soon as he learned of my arrival in Tabatinga. The news that the independents were advancing to Lima, and the viceroy there ordered the return of the most important officers of the interior, appointing others to replace them, as well as the fact that only our passports were valid in Brazil, stopped me. I resolved, therefore, to end the journey here on the frontier, and I returned again from the western direction to the east.

The journey to Olivenca, which had taken place in four days, only required 24 hours, as we descended the river. On this journey we remained always in the stream, in the middle of the river. Here it happened that the canoe collided with a trunk immersed in the water, so that the boat, filling itself halfway, in an instant, almost sank; however, luckily the tree trunk broke, again the canoe recovered and passed the danger. In Olivenca, the Indians' canoes had not yet arrived that had been sent to the nearby forest, and so I waited eight days for them. Culinians, who live here, are not tattooed; they pierced the upper and lower lip, the ears and the nostrils. Marriage is determined well before puberty of the girls, and is consented to by parents in exchange for services. While the woman is on a diet after delivering her baby, the husband has almost nothing to eat in the first five days. They both avoid eating, on this occasion, fish and tapir, and only eat pork. As soon as the newborn is five days old, it is smoked on a full day with a cigar by the witch doctor, and then is given its name.