Remember the Rainforest 1
favor of our hypothesis? It is proved that the Portuguese had a very early idea of the connection of the Rio Negro with the Orinoco (which, according to Ribeiro, § 304, they had already known in 1725 and 1726, and which they indicated in 1744 to the Spanish Jesuit Manuel Romano.)
I will add here an extract on the frontier communications, as they were in 1817 between Brazil and the Spanish provinces of Rio Negro and Orinoco. And of the tribute of the then governor of the province of the Negro River, Mr. Jose Joaquim Vitorio da Costa, to whose goodness I owe the description: - "Currently (1817), the only way for our Spanish neighbors from Guyana to our borders and Orinoco and Rio Negro, they sail upstream to the village of Sao Fernando de Atabapo, at the mouth of the Rio de la Montana, and on to the village of Iavita (Jabita), then make half a day's journey, by land, to the region between Iavita and the Negro River (which they call La Montana), by a narrow path open in the woods, then descending by the Rio Negro, and, by the Caciquiare channel above, where they can visit the villages on both shores."
The road at first known, and formerly more frequented, but abandoned today, went in the opposite direction; followed by Sao Fernando de Atabapo, by the Orinoco above, to the upper mouth of the Caciquiare, and then by the latter, descending to the Rio Negro. They had to go up the Orinoco for 30 days and travel for 15 days to the Caciquiare, and they had many dangers in the Orinoco, as well as having to be afraid of the wild Indians, because they had less help due to the lack of villages.
On this path of the Orinoco, everything is less treacherous below the Waterfalls of Atures and Maipures: above them, the channel is uneven and rugged for the boats; few colonies exist and are sparsely populated; in the fields, there are no cattle; fishing is scarce in the river; and there are many hostile Indians in the neighborhood.
The waterfalls of Atures and Maipures present a great embarrassment to navigation,
since everything must be unloaded and taken by land until later. When the Spaniards wanted to arm their stronghold of St. Augustine with artillery, they spent six months in the passage of the waterfalls, and only half the garrison reached the frontier fortress, which soon gave cause for the establishment of our fort of Sao Jose dos Marabitanas.
Then the Spaniards arrived at Angustura from Nueva Guiana to Conucunuma, or Esmeraldas, in the Alto Orinoco, through woods and fields, by a trail, which touched on several missions of Indians, a journey of 15 days. Nowadays, only missions are to be found in the capital and on the Rio Caura, and only on this stretch of the open and frequented road; the Indians of the missions, between the Caura and Esmeraldas, exterminated their missionaries and the rest of the Spaniards, not respecting what they had learned at the mission schools.
(II) For ethnography - There are at least fifty different tribes, which still inhabit insulated groves, on the two banks of the Rio Negro, as well as the beautiful meadows of the Rio Branco.
These tribes, before they had been governed by the Portuguese villages, or harassed and repelled by them, were so depleted by fighting with each other
and against the warlike invading Caraibas from the mountain of Parime that they could not resist the immigrants. These in very small numbers are definitely the most powerful tribes, who felt the need for better civilization, soon allying themselves with the whites, and thereby they lost their independence. The custom of canniblism among the Indians of this great basin was general, and this had undoubtedly contributed to the depopulation of that region, besides the unhealthiness of the climate.
The small hordes and tribes, which still remain in freedom there, inhabit particularly between the Uaupe and the sources of the Rio Negro.
They are all Indians “del mato” (Indians from the bush), relatively more numerous with a spirit even more taciturn than the "peasant Indians" (in Spanish, "Andantes Indians”). They change their domicile, sometimes for the sake of subsistence, sometimes because of war with their neighbors, and often there are certain hordes whose names were not known before they settled on their particular river. There they are domiciled for a while, or they settle permanently, as it pleases each one. The devastating epidemics, to which the settlements of Brazil are exposed, and whose increase from 20