Remember the Rainforest 1
What I have to add to my companion's "Relation of Travel" on the Rio Negro, is especially the summary of the descriptions made to me by two well-informed residents of Barra, Mr. Kufner Teles, then the governor's assistant, and Mr. Anveres of Corte-Real, in whom I was ready to trust, since I checked their information with the news published by Monteiro and Ribeiro, and with the maps of Simoes and Vitorio da Costa. These observations come from two general points of view.
(1) For the geography of Rio Negro. - From all the information about the margins, direction, current and depth of the Rio Negro, it is likely in my opinion that this river, in its lower part, once had a system of inland lakes, which, only by the tributaries, created the conditions of the river.
From its mouth in Solimoes to Santa Isabel, one must suppose there are at least four large basins, in which the river sometimes widens.
Fortaleza da Barra
In Fortaleza da Barra, it is only half a league wide;
in Paricatuba, it narrows more, not more than a quarter of a league,
Rio Negro at Taruma
then widens in Taruma; and reaches more than a league to Airao,
where this first basin ends. Numerous islands appear mainly along the banks, among which a safe trip is made. The southern is here higher than the northern shore, and its islands are freer from the floods than those of the extensive Anavilhana archipelago (more properly Anauene), situated on the northern coast. Above Airao, where, instead of the gypsum banks,
convex islands of granite occur,
the river also has a channel, with fewer islands, which connects the lower basin to the second. It begins in Moura, where the bank lowers, covers the mouth of the Rio Branco, and once again narrows in Carvoeiro, where naked parapets of granite and hills stretch from the water's edge. Above this narrowing, the banks which rise in Poiares, recede, and here the black water, at an extraordinary width of five to six leagues, forms a great basin, the extension of which is so great that the number of islands seems small. Barcelos is also situated in this basin, whose narrowing between Poiares and Barcelos is made by the occurrence of groups of rocks and islands, which form channels between both villages.
Above Barcelos, the granite walls rise to Moreira; they descend again in Tomar, and again a number of islands rise again in the river. From Lama Longa to Santa Isabel, the river extends, for the last time, between sandy banks, not very high (identical series of lakes empty in the same basin, from the Rivers Uarira and Ataui). At its lower part, the Rio Negro does not have any current before it looks like a dead sea. Only when it receives the pressure of powerful influxes of Rio Branco and others, it begins to have weak currents; upstream to Macarubi, where the first rapids are found,
Rio Negro rapids
it moves faster, and its speed is even more pronounced in the region of rapids and waterfalls, from Macarubi to the mouth of the Uaupes; but then, until the meeting with the Caciquiare channel, descending impetuously to the south, the current recommenced to be less rapid. I do not know more rigorous information about the rapidity of the Rio Negro in the different points, but the barometric altitudes, verified in Sao Carlos do Rio Negro and Barcelos, indicate an extremely small fall of 213 feet between both places.
Waterfall of Sao Carlos
Mr. von Humboldt found in the first village the height of 762 feet; the one of Barcelos was estimated; according to the barometric observations made by von Spix at 549 feet;
the one of Barra, at 522 feet. In an extension of at least 200 leagues, the inclination is only 11.5 feet per league.
These data on the nature of the Rio Negro, also corresponds to its depth, which, in such a wide magnification as a basin, should mount at 50 points or 60, particularly in the middle of it, in the region of rapids and falls, when it reaches eight or nine, and near the mouth of the river, it is between 18 and 19 “bracas”. We have often mentioned in this narrative the black color of the accumulation of calm and deep waters, which are so often found in the provinces of Para and Rio Negro; it does not compete as well