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Remember the Rainforest 1



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had monstrous bellies, and the older ones showed the evident hardening of the liver from drinking alcohol, the consequences of the constant fevers, against which the inhabitants of Japura do not know remedies, and also nothing could save them from the ailments of the Whites. This demented observation is the general opinion, but false, because the Indians have many and effective medications.

According to all my experience, there are rare plants that we know, prime among them certain purgative fruits, as curative means, and likewise many vines with juices of poisonous effect. (Note IV). Despite their sickened state, which manifested itself in so many of our indians, they remained energetic most of the day, so that, at the end of four days of travel, we reached the first cataract, called Cupati.

The river, whose direction, until half way, is a quarter of a mile southwest, then northwest, has fewer islands than those below Sao Joao, and so comprises a width of a sixth to an eighth of Sea mile. Its current is considerable in the middle; It was then five to six nautical miles per hour. The depth, in the center of the canal, was 20 or until 30 bracas (perhaps, however, by the very large and inevitable diagonal of the probe);

Sandbanks of Japura River

On the banks, the river was, on the contrary, very shallow, and the sand banks, extending far, forced us, often to enormous deviations. Now the river was visibly drained at low tide and on the shores and in the groves were spotted vestiges of the previous water height, higher than two bracas

Flooded forest

. The closer we were to the first cataracts, the higher the shores, the rarer the tree groves with a canopy of the thickest trees, and in the afternoon we passed to the west the Serra de Cupati, all shrouded in rain clouds.

This, as we came close, it soon vanished from our sight. At 9:00 of the night, we passed the falls of the Apaporis, above which we set up camp, on an island of sand.


The next morning, after all, we were facing the Serra de Cupati, very close by. The rain-filled clouds parted, and offered a new spectacle, long enough for us to observe the mountain. In the immense virgin forest, where for so many months we had traveled, we could not find a point or basis of comparison to judge its heights. Man, whose organism seems destined by nature to measure everything on the earth, seems insignificant, in the midst of a grove of almost uniform size, whose height can hardly measured except by our enjoyment. The Serra de Cupati must rise 600 feet above the Japura (1).

Serra Cupati

(1) place where Martius crossed the current border of Brazil with Colombia. (Rev. Note, Ed. Melh.)