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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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long been domesticated by men, had lost some of their original independence, so that they were incapable of defending themselves against the supremacy of the free flora of nature. It was dark when we disembarked at the mouth of Lake Maraa, where we slept in the hut of Albano, the chief of the Maripis. As proof of the higher civilization of these Indians, one should consider the custom of keeping houses in two places, as do the European inhabitants. Albano lives here, on the occasion of planting or harvesting its neighboring farms: otherwise, he is in Maripi. The course of the river, whose waters become darker, more turbid, faster and colder, upstream of this place, is even more divided over the islands than before, and is a quarter of an hour wide. The low islands, of dense vegetation, did not present at present the margin of sand, that appears in other resting places, as it happens with those of the Amazon.

Thereafter. we could no longer count on them, nor find many of the turtle beaches that, at another time, were sought by the inhabitants of Ega and Fonte Boa.

The current height of the water was, moreover, quoted as a more partial phenomenon than a general one, due to the flow of the fast waters of the Uaranapu, since, ordinarily, the river reaches its highest level (as the Orinoco) in July , and goes down from that time on until Christmas; above all, it is not unusual to repeat alternating floods and ebbs in the short time, according to the general rains in the river basin. While the Japura continued in the direction N. to S., there was almost no difference between the vegetation of its banks and that of Solimoes; but now, as we sailed westward, some plants appeared which we had never seen before, or in less profusion (Note III). At certain points, particularly in the humid, ruined areas swept by the flood,

Theobroma cacau, the cocoa tree

Salsaparilla

cacao and salsaparilla were abundant. Both are included among the trees of the equatorial zone, that do not grow in groves and so cannot be called social. If, on the other hand, when one walks with pleasure under the shady canopies of the cacao, when the soil is not too swampy, on the other hand the fences and hedges of the sarsaparrilha present at each step a hindrance. I have had occasion to observe this famous shrub here, as elsewhere in the Rio Negro, and I have written extensively in the note with the greatest effort, because the standard plant of the different species of salsaparrilhas is not yet well known.

We thought it prudent to change our boat in Maraa for another one, which Albano offered us, because the other boat’s length made it difficult to keep in line, and, besides, it took in so much water, that it was only the vigilance of my companion the previous night, that saved us from sinking.

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