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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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make the ascent to the Serra de Cupati, where we spent the night. Although it rained, our people hung their hammocks in the woods, among the fires, each covered their chest and head with a piece of turiri weave, and then they slept as quietly as they would at home in their huts.

Serra de Cupati

And the passive confidence with which the Indians everywhere in these equinoctial lands set up their camp, whether it be by the light of the stars or under a dark rain, is quite endearing;

I worried for them doubly, as my companions gathered around me asleep, listening to the snoring of the waterfall, sometimes strong, sometimes weaker and watching the few stars that did not hide behind the clouds. I was ashamed of the scare caused by the shadows of some large bats, fluttering around us, and

then I soon slept soundly. At the break of day, we entered the woods on the western side of the mountain, and we found ourselves, without difficulty, on one of its high summits.

Serra Cupati

For about a quarter of the way, the forest was almost impassable, with its large blocks of rock and the remains of decaying vegetation, some feet deep; then as it dawned, the woods became lower and more spaced. I noticed many broad-leafed, leafy shrubs, which like mimosas close their leaves to sleep, as well as many small ubis,

Ubis, the Croton

ferns,

tree-like grasses,

Bamboo, a tree-like grass

and the extraordinary melastomacea,

Melastomacea

called tocica, in whose turgid base little ants make a safe nest. Further on, where the angle of the mountain began to be abrupt, the vegetation was dense, as I had never seen before. The trees had lower branches so intertwined and closed, that they rotted away completely and turned into a mire, into which we sank to the middle of our bodies. The climb was extremely painful: at a cost we climbed the lower branches of the trees, and each step overcame the bush with power of its weight. After a good hour, we reached the summit, which was so invaded by the same vegetation, that we rejoiced to find there a bare rock with the space of six square feet, where we could rest. We would have been here about 600 feet above the river. The higher the sun rose, with the drifting mist wafting over the forest, the merrier was the panorama on the pure horizon, all clear, around me. When I was a veritable prisoner in the dark sadness of the virgin forest, living with the cannibals of Porto Miranhas, I never tired of looking at the distance; and what a characteristic panorama I could see here now at this moment !

To the west, south, and east, as far as the eye could see, lay a valley covered with green groves, among which only the ribbon of the river gleamed here and there. The Japura was visible many leagues distant, in that dark green landscape. After snaking round the southern end of the Serra de

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