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Remember the Rainforest 1



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However, not by the hand of man, not by the appearance of civilization, not even by a tacit agreement, are the possessions of both nations defined, Spanish and Portuguese; nature itself interrupted even more the communication of neighbors on the river. Only brave tribes, hostile to newcomers and Europeans, encamp in these far-flung provinces and only the future generations of civilization will spread the blessings of mutual traffic.

Cupati waterfall

In a way, after having passed Cupati's waterfall, I was in the "no man's land", in fact claimed by Brazil because of the excursions made by Brazilians, who sail freely to the Araraquara waterfall,

Araraquara waterfall

according to the maps of Brazil, reproduced from the Portuguese originals. Yet the last Commission of Limits (1783) has not yet solved the question of possession. The existence of mineral riches hardly ever increased the value of this territory, for, despite the exaggerated information of the Indians in this respect, the dominant formation of ore, in great uniformity throughout the Japura, does not seem to contain precious mineral, in any compensating quantity.

If the insubordination, reigning in my crew, did not oblige me to return, I would have stayed there with the fever, from which I relieved myself somewhat, after taking a strong emetic and great doses of cinchona,


but it grew worse in that place where I was in the middle of jungles, and distant from human help, for a whole month of travel. On the 31st of January, therefore, we set out for home, amidst the joyful cries of the Indians, and paddled down the river. The waterfall, at the point where the bed again expands to 200 feet wide, has the river in the middle 10 bracas deep; further along the banks, it is seven, five, and less. I always wanted to navigate this part of the River of Enganos; but when we reached its mouth, and at the pilot's call, I tried so weakly to get out of bed. At that, I convinced myself to give up this interesting excursion, and we went on. I tried to understand as the Indians of Manacaru told me later a great deal about the carvings on the stones (heads) and great vessels, seen on enormous extensions on the stones that stood out, here and there, in the fields of Serra dos Umauas. How painfully I had to mourn, then, my state of weakness!

The return to the Port of Miranhas was made in three long days of travel. We continually navigated the stream, in Tupi tipaquena-piterpe (I do not know the derivation of tipaquena, "stream", but its ending appears frequently in the names of rivers of Guyana). I arrived at midnight, and entered the hut of the chief, where, to my great fright, I heard only