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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The next day, another adventure where I found myself engaged with all the equipment, ended more joyfully than it would appear possible. They had told us about a certain village of Cauixanas Indians, which was on the southern side of the Japura, near Lake Acunaui; we crossed the river, which is full of islets here, and we arrived, later, in a little lake of dark waters. Soon, we discovered, at the bottom of a cove, with tall, conical huts,

Conical huts with common kitchen

and in the middle of them, some Indians naked with their aprons on suspenders. We landed unarmed, and there we were received by a well-built young man, the chief's son,

who spoke the general language quite easily and led us to one of the large huts. I could see, in fact, in him and in his companions some hesitation, but I did not perceive at all in them a fear of attack on our part. So when, afterwards, we entered through the low door of the cabin with Mr. Zani, our astonishment was not small, seeing ourselves in the hands of enemies, in an Indian fortress. The boy soon closed the door halfway behind us, and we saw more than 30 Indians, all armed with bow and arrow, seated in the hammocks fixed along the wall, or standing between the posts. Without a gesture, quiet and ready for the attack, their eyes fixed on us strangers, a moment of disagreement or retreat would have been probably fatal to us. The appearance of several vessels in their lake had frightened them of a robbery, and their welcome showed that they had imagined the safest way of greeting us. Without space or light to use our arms, we whites, at the first moment of the assault, would be pierced with poisoned arrows, victims of our own daring. We soon managed, however, to divert their unfavorable suspicions. We took our ties and tossed them in peace, to the chief, who, having soon discovered that we were unarmed, regained confidence, and our bottle of brandy produced a cheerful welcome. The chief was an Indian five feet eight inches high, broad chest, athletic musculature, and in his nakedness he looked even taller and more robust. I have never seen Indians kiss, a manifestation of friendly feelings, which seems to be above their degree of civilization; but the Cauixana proved his friendship by rubbing his face, laden with urucu ink, on mine. After the first greetings, he asked me, through the interpreter, about the King of Portugal and Brazil, and his veneration for this illustrious person grew visibly, when I ascribed to him the dimensions of a giant. As a pact of friendship he presented me with a red blowgun and a bundle of poisoned arrows, accepting any trifle in return, particularly anchovies.

Indian arrows

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