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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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After we sailed the following morning a league west of Caicara, in the Solimoes,

we saw the mouth of the Japura (a shorter sea-league) before us, which runs smoothly between low, covered banks of virgin forest and palm trees, incorporating then with the greater of all the rivers.

Rio Japura

Rio Japura meets the Solimoes river

About the trips made in Japura before me (Note I) I knew almost nothing; but this lack of exact news stimulated my interest. Man has the tendency to poetize the obstacles that put his courage to the test. I still remember the exaltation with which I contemplated the mouth of the majestic river, dreaming of the discovery of wonders. If these dreams did not come true, I must, however, be particularly grateful for the experiences that were offered in this remote region, to have an idea of the nature and very precise knowledge of the primitive state of the American continent and its inhabitants! We did not enter the river through the main mouth, but we followed a relatively small hole (parana-mirim), called Majana, which, formed by a long island, covered with jungles, runs, making many curves, along the river. The slow-flowing waters that came to meet us were turbid in color, pulling into the yellow of the Solimoes, and they seemed all the more obscure, the further we moved away from the main river. The reason for this coloring was undoubtedly the current flood of the river, since at other times of the year the waters of the Japura are clearer than those of the Solimoes,

Uaranapu channel near Fonte Boa

and only blur when mixed with those of the Uaranapu channel, cutting from Fonte Boa the land, takes the waters of this last channel to the Solimoes and must, therefore, be considered the true arm of the great river. We paddled all day, without seeing the main river. We spent the night, lacking an island of sand, on a promontory of the continent, where, as always, from now on, we woke up with countless bonfires and sentinels, against the attack of beasts or wild Indians.

On the morning of December 14, we reached the western bank of the main river, which, to my great astonishment, recalled here, in the middle of the continent, an aspect equal to that of the Amazon at its mouth. The width is, on average, a sea league, according to whether there are larger or smaller islands. Everything here had the shape of the Solimoes: the formation of abrupt overlapping banks, and the vegetation consisting of groves of spines, hanging far above the river, and numerous palm trees, among which the Paxiubas (Iriartea exorhizo, M.), with its roots protruding from the soil.

The Solimoes, during our stay in Ega, had grown considerably, and hence the

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