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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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We attributed this mainly to the warm and turbid water, whose temperature was just under 25 ° R, the general cause of illness. The old Indians recommended clarifying it by throwing slugs into it; but here they lacked all the large, fleshy forms of this slug, which are easily found in Pernambuco and Bahia, but here they appear only as small, thorny parasites.

I then tried to purify the water with the small berries of the embauba, which had, besides, a pleasant taste.

Embauba, the Cecropia peltata

During the meals, we missed Captain Zani and his supply of chickens since his departure. We had despatched the chief, Gregorio to the Miriti-parana, to procure us chickens in the settlements of Coretus, Coerunas, and Japuas; but this supply came too late to receive. Above Manacaru, we passed the southern bank of the mouth of a not insignificant river called Meta by the Indians. The other tributaries, which we found, appeared relatively smaller and less extensive. The river itself was always bordered by low banks, which here, with the exception of the mountains of Lioz de Cupati consist of ferruginous sedimentary rock,

Ferruginous sandstone

brown, red or violet, or red clay. The Portuguese named this place Port of Miranhas after the pigeons which rise just above the mirror of water.

Upon landing, we were surrounded by more than 50 men of the tribe, who greeted us openly, and, with loud, noisy chatter, they led us to the presence of the chief. Although none of them spoke the Portuguese, or the Tupi, all wanted, meanwhile, to deal with business. When we arrived together at the cabin of the chief, a long house with several sections, they took the poisoned blowguns,

Poison blowgun

suspended on the wall, and they stood in expectation, near the door, where the mistress of the house entered. This chief had adopted a Christian name, like all the others we had found here, but it was probable that he was not baptized. This Joao Manuel was known and feared, not only among his Miranhas, but throughout the Upper Japura. He had probably had enough courage and a spirit of initiative to make slaves from his tribe or neighboring tribes and trade them with the whites. In dealing with these, he had acquired some European habits; he was proud of this, he always dressed in calicos and shirts, ate his food from a pottery dish and daily he trimmed his little beard. He does not understand Portuguese, but in the indian language he expresses himself with energy. Strangely enough, this quasi civilization of the chief in the horde he commands, where the horde commands him: his subjects are cannibals, who, barely speaking in the native tongue, have no notion of sovereignty, nor do they support it, and in their apathetic arrogance they want only to govern themselves; but unconsciously;

Indian slave trader

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