William Henry Edwards.

A voyage up the river Amazon: including a residence at Pará online

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nation, nought appeared but a house in the distance, almost
concealed by shrubbery, and every where else, a tangled bush,
with a few tall trees, from whose tops, numbers of large fly-
catchers were calling " Bentivee — Bentivee." Through this
lab3rrinth, we toiled a couple of hours, shooting few birds, run-
ning heedlessly, and to our peril, into bees' nests, and leaving rags
of clothes, and shreds of flesh, among the prickly sword-grassy
until, at length, we were fain to give it up as a bad job, and.
coming near the house, sat us down under the orange-trees,
whose abundant fruit served somewhat to stay our longings for
breakfast. A white man came to the door, and seemed dis-
posed to be communicative ; so we mustered our forlorn stock
of Portuguese, and soon made considerable advances in his
graces. He insisted upon our taking a cup of coffee, and, after
a little more nodding and comprehending, on both sides, nothing
would do, but we must add to coffee, fish and farinha ; fresh
fish, too, and of his own catching, and none the less agreeable,
doubtless, for being presented us by his pretty wife. After
breakfast, our friend sent out to the orange-tree, and soon
brought us a brimming goblet of orangeade ; and finally, before
our departure, he had a number of breadfruits brought in, and



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A VOYAGE TTP THB RIVER AMAZON. 61

the extracted seeds, much like chesnuts, roasted, with which
he crammed our pockets. Verily, thought we, if this is the
eastom of the country, and the mere fact of one's being a
stranger is a pa8q)ort to such hospitality, and a sufficient
apology for powder-smutted faces, and ragged garments, there
is some little good left in the world yet. Here was this man^
with so generous a heart, really one of the laziest squatters in
the neighborhood, without a vestige of any sort of cultivation
upon his premises, and, evidently enough, dependent for hia
gnpport upon the fish he might catch in the stream : he would
have felt offended, had we ofiered to pay for our entertainmentr
10 we did what we could,. by slipping some mementoes into the
hand of a bright-eyed young Apollo, who was trotting about
with the freedom of a wild colt.

The breadfruit tree, which we saw growing upon this
place, sprang from a plant originally introduced into the Bo*
tanical Garden of Pard by the Grovernment. A few of these
trees are scattered over the province, but they are considered
rather as ornamental than useful. In appearance, it is one of
themoetbeautiful of trees; having a large, wide-spreading top,
profusely hung with many-lobed leaves, nearly two feet in
length, and of a bright green. The fruit is nearly spherical,
six inches in diameter, green in color, and curiously warted
upon the surface. Within, it is yellowish, and fibrous, and con-
tains a number of seeds, which are eaten roasted. There is a
superior variety, that is seedless, and the whole of which la
eaten.

Another common visiting place from the Mills was the
Larangeira, or Orange Grove, a little settlement not far below
Corientiores, where a lazy commandant mustered a few beg^
garly troops, for the security of this part of the province. The
most remarkable object here, was a cotton tree, measuring
thirty-two feet in circumference, two feet above the ground.
The height corresponded to this vastness, and we left it with a
very lively impression of what Nature might do here, only give
her the opportunity. Fortunately for settlers, her powers are
lomewhat restricted, and for one such monster^ there are &
hundred, Utfje fonnidable, .else were clearing the land out of



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62 A VOTAOB TIP THB RIVBR AMAZON.



the question. From the La^allgei^€^ we received a variety of
shells, the Helix pellis-serpentis, Anastoma globosa, Bulimna
regius, and Helix comboides (Fenr.) One of the largest trees
of the forest is the Masseranduba, or Cow tree, and, about Pard,
they are exceedingly common. One, in particular^ stands
directly on the road, beyond the first bridge from the mill, and
cutting into this, with our tresado, the milk issued at every
pore. It much resembled cream in appearance and taste, and
might be used as a substitute for milk in coffee ; or, diluted
with water, as a drink. It is, however, little used, except as a
medicine, or for the adulteration of rubber. The wood of this
tree is red, like mahogany, very durable, and used much for
purposes where such timber is required. There are said to be
eight varieties of trees known at Pard, and more or less com-
mon, which yield a milky sap. Other trees yield fragrant
gums, and nearly or quite all these products are used for medi-
cinal purposes.

At length, we prepared to leave the Mills, having enjoyed
ourselves to the utmost in this our first experience of Brazilian
country life. We had seen every thing that we could have
seen, and had made a beautiful collection of birds and other
objects. It was with regret that we bade adieu to Mr. Lea-
vens, who had contributed so much to our comfort and pleasure.
The sun had not risen, when, guns upon our shoulders, and
ctccompanied by a black, with a basket for the carriage of any
interesting plants, or other objects that we might desire to ap-
propriate upon the road, we set forth. We patssed several bridges,
spanning little streams, and for ten miles, walked through the
deep forest. The cries of monkeys resounded about us, and
every now and then, there came a shrill sound, like that pro-
duced by whistling with the finger in the mouth. We fre-
quently afterwards heard this same whistle, in different parts
of the country, but never were able to ascertain from what it
proceeded. Most likely a squirrel, but we were assured it was
the note of a bird. We encountered a spider, leisurely cross-
ing the road, that might rival the tarantula in bigness. A
sharpened stick pinned him to the earth, and we bore him in
triumph to town. Across his outstretched legs none of us could



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A VOYAGE UP THE RIYEB AMAZON. 63

span, and his sharp teeth were like hawk's claws. This spe-
cies spins no web, but lives in hollow logs, and probably feeds
upon huge insects, perhaps small animals, or birds. We col-
lected specimens of a great variety of Ferns, Calandrias, Te-
lanzias, and Maxillarias, and observed many rich flowers of
which we know not the names. But we did recognize a Pas-
sion-flower, with its stars of crimson, as it wound around a
small tree, and mingled its beauties with the overshading
leaves.



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CHAPTER VI.

Start for Caiip€— Island scene— Arrival— Vicinitjr— Tomb of Mr. Graham— Dinner—
Shelling in the bay— Varieties of shells— Martins— Tema— Nuts and fraits— Mode
of fishinf—Four-eyed fish— Ant track*— Moqnewis— Forest— Creeirfng {dants — Wild
hogs, or Peccaries— Traps— Agontis—Pacas — Sqnirreb— Bird»— C!hapel and singing rf
the blacks — Andiroba oil.

Our delightful visit at Magoary had incited a desire for
further adventure, and ere a week had elapsed after our
return, we were preparing to visit Carip§. Profiting by paist
experience, we secured a small canoe, having instead of a
cabin, merely an arched covering towards the stem, denomi-
nated a iolda^ and afibrdlng sufficient shetter for short voyages.
This was manned by two stout negroes. Carip6 is nearly
opposite Pard, distant about thirty miles, but separated by
many intervening islands. Among these, thirty miles may be
a short distance or a very long one, as thSl tides favor; for
there are so many cross currents running in every direction,
that it requires great care to avoid being compelled to anchor,
and lose much time. As to pulling against the tide, which
rushes along with a six mile velocity, it is next to impossible.

We left Pard at midnight, two hours before low tide ; and
falling down about eight miles, received the advancing flood,
which swiftly bore us on its bosom. There were two others

of our party, besides A and myself; and one taking the

helm, the rest of us stretched our toughening bodies upon the
platform, under the tolda, determined to make a night of it.

Morning dawned, and we were winding in a narrow
channel, among the loveliest islands that eye ever rested on.
They sat upon the water like living things ; their green dra-
pery dipping beneath the surface, and entirely concecding the



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A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 65

shore. Upon the main-land, we had seen huge foreets, that
much resembled those of the North magnified ; but here, all
was different, and our preconceptions of a forest in the tropics
were more fully realized. Vast numbers of palms shot up
their tall stems, and threw out their coronal beauties in a pro-
fusion of fantastic forms. Sometimes, the long leaves assumed
I the shape of a feather-encircling crest, at others, of an opened
fan ; now, long and broad, they drooped languidly in the sun-
hght, and again, like ribbon streamers they were floating
upon every breath of air. Some of these palms were in blos-
som, the tall sprigs of yellow flowers conspicuous among the
leaves ; from others, depended masses of large fruits ripening
in the sun, or attracting flocks of noisy parrots! At other
spots, the palms had disappeared, and the dense foliage of the
tree tops resembled piles of green. Along the shore, creeping
vines so overran the whole, as to form an impervious hedge,
concealing every thing within, and clustering with flowers.
Very rarely, a tall reed was seen, and by the leaves which
encircled every joint, and hung like tassels from its bended
head, we recognized the bamboo. Frequently we passed
plantations, generally of sugar cane, and looking, at a dis-
tance, like fields of waving corn ; in beautiful contrast with
the whole landscape beside. We lost the tide, and were
obliged to creep along shore, for some distance, at the rate of
about a mile an hour. At length, towards noon, turning a
pomt, we opened at once into a vast expanse of water, upon
the farther side of which the tree tops of Marajo were just
visible. Immediately to our left, distant about a mile, and in
a small circular bay, the broad white beach and glistening
house upon its margin, told us we had arrived at Carip6.
We were all enthusiasm with the beautiful spot, heightened
doubtless by the approaching termination of our voyage ; for
in our cooped-up quarters, we were any thing but comfortable
or satisfied. Moreover, a sail in the hot sun, unfortified by
breakfast, tendeth not to good humor.

Landing upon the beadh, and having the canoe dragged
up high and dry, we proceeded to the house, and soon made
the acquaintance of the old negroes, who had charge of the



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66 A VOYAGE TTP TBB RIVER AMAZON.

premises. They set about preparing dinner, and we, mean-
while, slung our hammocks in the vacant apartments, and
reconnoitred our position. The house was remarkably well
constructed, for the country, covering a large area, with high
and neatly plastered rooms, and all else conveniently ar-
ranged. In front was a fine view of the bay, and Marajo in
the distance. Upon either side, the forest formed a hedge
close by. Behind, was a space of a few acres, dotted with
fruit trees of various kinds, and containing two or three
thatched structures, used for various purposes ; one of which
particularly, was a kiln for mandioca. Here a black, shaggy
goat, with horns a yard in length, lay enjoying himself in the
drying pan* A number of young Scarlet Ibises were running
tamely about A flock of Troopials had draped a tree, near the
house, with their nests, and were loudly chattering and scold-
ing. But amid these beauties, was one object that inspired
very different feelings. Close under our window, surrounded
by a little wooden enclosure, and unmarked by any stone,
was the tomb of Mr. Graham, his wife, and child. He was
an English naturalist, and with his family had spent a long
time in the vicinity of Pard, laboring with all a naturalist's
enthusiasm to make known to the world the treasures of the
country. He left this beach, in a small montaria, to go to a
large canoe, anchored at a little distance ; and just as he had
arrived, by some strange mishap, the little boat was over-
turned, and himself, his wife, and hie child were buried be-
neath the surf. The bodies were recovered and deposited in
this enclosure. Mr. Graham had been a manufacturer, and
was a man of wealth. His family suffer his rem'ains to lie
mouldering here, unmarked, although several years have
elapsed since the catastrophe.

We were standing here, when a smiling wench announc-
ed dinner upon the table, and all reflections upon aught else
were dissipated.

It is customary for persons visiting these solitary planta-
tions to provide themselves with such provisions as they may
want ; but we were as yet uninitiated, and had secured nothing
but a few bottles of oil and vinegar. But fish and farinha are



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A VOYAGE UP THE RIVEE AMAZON. 67

the never failing resort, and to this we were now introduced
with raging appetites. Here a slight difficulty occurred at the
outset. The old woman had a store of dishes, but neither
knife nor fork. We had penknives, but they were inconve-
nient, and tresados^ but they were unwieldy ; so, sending eti-
quette to the parlor, we took counsel of our fingers in this em-
barrassing emergency, and by their active co-operation, suc-
ceeded in disposing, individually, of a large platter of a well
mixed compound, in which oil and yinegar, onions, pepper and
salt, materially assisted to disguise the flavor of the other two
ingredients. There have been more costly meals, and perhaps,
of a more miscellaneous character, than our first at Caripe ; but
I doubt if any were ever more enjoyed. After this dinner, we
got on more genteelly, for we heard of a store in the neighbor-
hood, and by as frequent visitations as our necessities rendered
expedient, provided ourselves with every thing requisite.
Fresh fish were abundant; and frequently some Indian in the
vicinity would bring eggs, in exchange for powder and shot
Add to these a daily dish of muscles, or, more conchologically
ipeaking, of Hyrias and Castalias, and our ways and means are
explained.

We had come to Carip6 more particularly for shells, inas-
much as it was the most celebrated locality for them in the
vicinity of Pard. The bay so faces the channel, that the tide«
create a great surf and collect large numbers of various shells.
We were just in time for the spring tides, when the water rises
and falls fifteen feet ; now, foaming almost to the top of the
bank, now, leaving exposed a broad flat of sand, beyond which,
io shallow water, is a muddy bottom. This latter was our
shelling ground ; and whenever the water would permit, all of
our parly, and the boatmen, were wading neck deep about the
bay. Each carried a basket upon his arm, and upon feeling
out the shell with his toes, either ducked to pick it up, or fished
it out with scoop-nets made for the purpose. In a good morn-
ing^s work we would, in this way, collect about one hundred
and fifty shells. Those in the deeper water were of three
varieties, the Hyria corrugata (Sow.)) the Hyria avicularis
(Lam.), and the Anadonta esula (D'Orbigny), the latter of



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68 A VOYAGE trP THE EIVEB AMAZOM.

which was extremely uncommon. Nearer the shore, and in
pools left standing in the sand, were the Castalia ambigua
(Lam.), always discoverable by the long trails produced by
their walking. Of three other small species we found single
specimens, all hitherto undescribed by conchologists. Two of
these were of the genus Cyrena, and the third an Anadonta. In
the crevices of the uncovered rocks were great numbers of the
Neritina zebra (Lam.), which variety is often seen in the
market of Pard, and is eaten by the negroes. About one hun-
dred yards east of the house, was a tide stream extending into
the woods, and called in the country, igaripe. Here, and in
similar igarip6s in the neighborhood, were numbers of a red-
lipped Ampullaria.

The water was so delightfully tempered, that we expe-
rienced no inconvenience from our long wadings, beyond blis-
tered backs, and this we guarded against somewhat by wear-
ing flannel. A kind of small fish, that bites disagreeably, was
said to be common in these waters, and though we never met
them, we thought it as well to encounter them, if at all, in
drawers and stockings. The tide here fell with very great
slowness ; but, at the instant of turning, it rushed in with a
heavy swell, immediately flooding the flat, and breaking with
loud roarings upon the shore. Besides the shells above enu-
merated, the Bulimus haemastoma was extremely commoD
upon the land. Frequently we found their eggs. They were
nearly an inch long, white, and within, was generally the fully
formed snail, shell and all, awaiting his egress.

At low water, upon the bushes in some parts springing
plentifully from the sand, large flocks of Martins, Hirundo
purpurea, were congregated, like swallows in August. They
seemed preparing for a migration, but as we saw them fre-
quently throughout our joumeyings, at different seasons, they
probably remain and breed there. Flocks of Terns were skim-
ming every morning along the beach, and as we shot one of
their number, the others would fly circling about, screaming,
and utterly regardless of danger.

The tides here collected great quantities of nuts and fruits,
and along high-water mark, was a deep ridge of them, some,



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A VOTAGB UP THE EIVEE AMAZON. 69

\ a

dried in the sun, others, throwing out their roots and clinging to
the soil. We picked up an interesting variety of the palm
fruits, and large beans of various sorts. One kind of the lat-
ter, in particular, was in profusion, and we soon discovered
tile tree whence they came, growing near by. It was tall
and nobly branching, and overhung with long pods. Several
varieties of acacias also ornamented the shore, conspicuous
everywhere, from the dark rich green of their leaves. These,
also, bore a bean in a broad pod, and the Indians asserted it a
useful remedy for the colic. Here, also, we discovered a new
fruit. It resembled much a strawberry, in shape, color, and fla-
vor, except that its red skin was smooth, and its size that of a
large plum. It covered in profusion the top of a large tree,
and its appearance then was most beautiful. The negroes ate
large quantities of it. We were told, afterwards, in the city,
that it was a useful and agreeable medicine, having upon the
system some of the beneficial effects of calomel.

Caripe is famous for its fishery, and we observed, with
interest, the manner of taking fish in these igarip6s. A mat-
ting is made of light reeds, six feet in length, and half an inch
in diameter, fastened together by strings of grass. This, being
rolled up, is easily transported upon the shoulder, to a conveni-
ent spot, either the entrance of a small igarip6, or some little
bay, flooded by the tide. The mat net is set and properly se-
cured, and the retiring tide leaves within it the unlucky fish.
This mode is very simple, yet a montaria is frequently filled
with the fish, mostly, of course, small in size. We saw a great
many varieties thus daily taken, and much we regretted that
our ignorance of ichthyology rendered it impossible for us to dis-
tinguish them, and that our want of facilities made it equally im-
possible to preserve them. One curious species, the Anableps
tetrophthalmus, was very common. It is called by the people, the
four-eyed fish, and is always seen swimming with nose above the
surface of the water, and propelling itself by sudden starts.
The eye of this fish has two pupils, although but one crystal-
line and one vitreous humor, and but one retina. It is the
popular belief, that as it swims, two of its eyes are adapted to
the water, and two to the air.

4*



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70 A VOYAGE UP THB EIVER AMAZON.

It was curious to observe the tracks of the Saftba ants about
the grass, in some parts near the house. By constant passing,
they had worn roads two inches wide, and one or more deep,
crossing each other at every angle. These paths usually ran
towards the beach, where quantities of food were daily de-
posited for the ants. A far greater nuisance than ants were
Moqueens, little insects that live in the grass, and delight to at-
tach themselves to any passer-by. They are red in color, and
so small, as to be scarcely distinguishable. But there is no
mistaking their bite, and, for a little time, it produces an intol-
erable itching. We had known something of them at the Mills,
but the dwellers there were nothing to those at Carip6.

The forest around us was mostly of second growth, and
difficult of ingress, except along the road, which extended back,
about two miles, to an old ruin. At this place, we noticed, in
the doorway, a tree, nearly a foot in diameter, and yet, but a
very few years had elapsed since the house was inhabited.

The creeping vines were of a different variety from any
that we had before seen, contorted into strange shapes. One,
particularly, with its broad stalk, resembled a shrivelled bean
pod.

Paths of wild hogs, or Peccaries, crossed the woods «very
where, these animals associating in droves. They much re-
semble the domestic hog, but never attain a large size. At
various places, in these paths, were traps set by the negroes
for Pacas and Agoutis, or other small animals. A thick hedge
of limbs, and prickly palm leaves, is laid along, and any fuii-
mal encountering this, will prefer following its course to making
forcible passage, until his mortal career is probably terminated
in a figure-four trap.

The Agoutis are small animals of the Rodentia family, of a
reddish color, very common, and esteemed as food. They are
much inferior in this respect, however, as well as in size, to the
Pacas. These somewhat resemble Guinea pigs in form, and
are the size of a young porker, living in burrows in the ground.
They are very prettily spotted, and are a beautiful species.

In these woods, we saw a number of Squirrels, the same
nimble things as squirrels elsewhere. There seems to be but



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A VOYAGE XTP THE RIVER AMAZON. 71



one variety in the vicinity of the city, something smaller than
our red squirrel, and of a color between red and gray. The
place of this family is fully supplied by monkeys, which are
Been and heard every where.

In the denser thicket we encountered a curious species of
bird, which, afterwards, we found to be common throughout
the province, in like situations. This was the White-bearded
Puff-bird, Tamatia leucops. By collectors, at Pard, it is known
by the name of Waxbill, from its long, red beak. This bird is
the size of a jay, and almost wholly a lead color, approaching
to black. It receives its name from the loose feathers upon the
throat, which it has the habit of puffing out until its neck ap-
pears as large as its body. Owing to the secluded situations
in which we found this bird, we could observe little of its hab-
its, but another variety of the same family was common about
the rice-mi 11, at Magoary, where, at any time, numbers of them
might be seen sitting upon the top of some dead tree, whence
they sallied out for insects, after the manner of the fly-catchers.
They were very tame, and only learned caution after sad thin-
ning of their numbers. This species is the Swallow Puff-bird,
L. tenebrosa, and is nearly the size of a Martin. We discov-
ered a nest of this bird. It was built in the fork of a limb, and
both the nest itself, and the eggs which it contained, strikingly
resembled those of our Wood-pewee, Muscicapa virens. A
third small variety of this family is the Spotted, T. macularia,
seen only in the deeper woods.

Connected with our house was a little chapel, upon the al-
tar of which, was a rude representation of the Virgin, and every
morning and evening, the blacks knelt in devotion. Upon cer-
tain evenings, all of them, and some of the neighborp, would
come together, and, for an hour, chant the Portuguese hymn,
in wild tones, but very pleasing. A lamp was constantly kept
burning in this chapel. Similar customs prevail at most of the
country sitios, and by many of the planters, the blacks are
trained up rigidly to the performance of these observances.

The oil universally used for burning is obtained from the
nuts of a tree known as the Andiroba. This tree is lofty and



Online LibraryWilliam Henry EdwardsA voyage up the river Amazon: including a residence at Pará → online text (page 6 of 24)