Remember the Rainforest 1
when necessity required us to make camp, we needed to surround the place with stakes.
When the governor general of Para, Joao da Gama da Maya (1), was notified that above the waterfalls there were colonies of Europeans, he sent Captain Francisco de Melo Palheta in 1723 (2) for more detailed information. Palheta, who must be considered the discoverer of this river, overcame the falls, reached the junction of the Guapore with the Mamore, followed the latter river, guided by a Spanish boat encountered there, to the Spanish mission of Exaltation of the Holy Cross of the Cajubabas, and returned by the same way to Belem do Para, but no geographic discoveries, made by him, were published.
The expedition of Palheta gave rise to the founding by the Spanish Jesuits of a village of Indians, taking them from the colonies of Madeira, in the foothills of Hi-Parana, or the Rio do Machado. This colony was forced, by enemies, to move lower down river, until, after all, it laid the foundations, in 1756, of Vila de Borba (formerly Aldeia do Trocano). Another village of the Jesuits, founded at the beginning of the Tupinambarana or Iraria basin, and then moved to the mouth in Madeira, the Village of the Pineapples, was destroyed by the violence of several epidemics of kidney infection and measles. While the lower Madeira attracted the Portuguese, the Spanish Jesuits began to found several villages in Mamore and Baures, as well as a decade later (1742), Santa Rosa in Guapore, where they gathered a considerable number of neophytes. The elders of Mato Grosso, accustomed to travel through the territory to discover gold mines, reached these remote missions in canoes (1736-1737), with which they began to entertain lucrative commerce, until it was forbidden to the Jesuits by their superiors in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
On the occasion of such commercial voyages to Exaltation, three Portuguese adventurers separated from their own crew, and in 1742 they were the first to arrive by way of Mamore, Madeira and the Amazon, to Para, where they were arrested as deserters and dispatched to Lisbon.
One of them, Joaquim Ferreira Chaves (*), escaped, passed through Maranhao, Goias and Cuiaba,
returning back to give the first information on the feasibility of a direct commercial link between this interior province, Mato Grosso, and Para . After these events, a large expedition to complete the voyage from Belem do Para to Mato Grosso was arranged by special order of the king, to obtain special explanations about the communication between the two regions, without contacting the Spanish missions. Jose Goncalves da Fonseca, one of the travelers, was entrusted with the daily newspaper. They left Belem Para on July 14, 1749, and arrived, on April 15, 1750, to Sao Francisco Xavier de Mato Grosso. Although it was not geographically reliable, this trip was, however, one of great consequence in terms of the commercial link between the two territories, which has since then been more frequent for the last thirty years.
Perhaps this was also the indirect cause of the Spanish Jesuits abandoning in 1753, their colonies in the Guapore, and turning westward to the province of Mochos. At that time the Indians of Madeira were, in part, driven away, and partly induced by a peace treaty, so expeditions now have little to fear from them.
For the geography of Madeira, all that is known until now was made by the astronomers Pontes and Lacerda, and by the naturalist Dr. Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira;
those in 1782, departed from Belem, ascending the Madeira, towards Mato Grosso, and determined many astronomical points, before reaching, four years later, the province of Cuiaba. A member of the Limits Commission, Ricardo Franco de Almeida Serra, who was there in Mato Grosso at the time
(1) In the original, Joao da Gama da Maya. Joao da Gama da Maya was Governor of the State of Maranhao from 1722 to 1728. (Note from Rev., Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).
the exploration of the Madeira River, and finished in 1723, was dispatched in 1722, and not in 1723, as the author affirms. (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).