Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, Vol.I/12
THE MARUBOS. 233
Cochiquinas — Caballo Cocha — Alligators — Indian Incantations — Loreto — Tabatinga — River Yavari — San Paulo — River Ica — Tunantins — Making manteiga — River Jutay — Fronteboa — River Juruá — River Japurá.
Cochiquinas, or New Cochiquinas, is a miserable fishing village, of two hundred and forty inhabitants; though at this time there did not appear to be forty in the village, most of them being absent fishing and seeking a livelihood. Old Cochiquinas is four miles further down the river, and seems a far better situation; but the people there were afraid of the attacks of the savages of the Yavari, and removed up to this place.
The old town, to which place we dropped down to breakfast, has one hundred and twenty inhabitants, of which twenty-five are white, and the rest Indians of the Yavari, called Marubos. These are dressed with even more simplicity than the Yaguas, dispensing with the mop behind. They have small, curly moustaches and beards; are darker than the other Indians; and do nothing but hunt for their living.
The governor treated us very civilly, and gave us a good breakfast of soup, chickens, rice, and eggs, with milk just taken from the cow. What a luxury! I saw before his door a large canoe filled with unshelled rice, of very good quality. The governor told us that rice grew very well, and gave about forty-fold in five months. He seemed a very gay and good-tempered young person, with a fine family of a wife and eleven remarkably handsome children — some born in lawful wedlock, others natural — but all cared for alike, and brought up together. I had the impertinence to ask him how he supported so many people. He said that the forest and the river yielded abundantly, and that he occasionally made an expedition to the Napo, and collected sarsaparilla enough to buy clothes and luxuries for his family in Loreto. The Napo, he says, is very full of sand-banks, and that twenty days from its mouth the men have to get overboard and drag the canoes.
The Yavari may be reached from this point by land in four days. The banks of the river at this place are steep, and about thirty feet in height above the present level. Veins of the same black clay slate that we saw at Pebas, and that burned with a bituminous smell, also crop out of the banks here.
234 THE TICUNAS.
We sailed at noon, and arrived at Peruaté at 5 p.m., (twenty miles.) The population of this village is one hundred, made up of remnants of different tribes — Ticunas, and natives of the towns of Barranca, on the upper Amazon, and Andoas, on the Pastaza. I talked with an old negro who had been many times up the Napo. He confirmed the accounts that I had from other people.
November 28. — From Peruaté to Camucheros is thirty miles. This place has only a population of four families, recently settled there, who have cleared away a small portion of the forest and commenced their plantations of yuccas, maize, and rice. Just below Camucheros we had apparently all the width of the river in view — about a mile broad. I was surprised to find, near the middle of it, only thirty feet of water. I think a sand-bank stretches out a long way from the left shore. The velocity of the current was two and a quarter miles the hour. We arrived at Moromoroté at a quarter past 6 p.m., (distance fifteen miles.)
This consists of one house of christianized Indians. There is a house of Ticunas a mile further inland. We could hear the sound of their music, and sent them word that we wanted to buy animals and food from them. They came to see us after night, but were drunk, and had nothing to sell.
November 29. — We passed today a number of small islands. Between one of them and the right bank, where the river was at least a quarter of a mile wide, we saw many trees grounded, and, in what appeared the deepest part, found but twelve feet of water. Doubtless there is more in the other channels, and more might possibly be found in this.
At 9 a.m., after a journey of twenty miles, we entered the caño of Caballococha, (Horse lake.) It is about eighty yards wide, and has eighteen feet of depth in the middle. The water is clear, and makes an agreeable contrast with the muddy waters of the Amazon; but, there being no current in the caño, the water is supposed to be not so good to drink as that of the main river, which is very good when it is allowed to settle.
The village is situated on the caño, about a mile and a half from the entrance, and at the same distance from the lake. It contains two hundred and seventy-five inhabitants, mostly Ticunas Indians. These are darker than the generality of Indians of the Marañon, though not so dark as the Marubos; and they are beardless, which frees them from the negro-look that these last have. Their houses are generally plastered with mud inside, and are far neater-looking, and more comfortable, than the other Indian residences that I have seen. This is, however, entirely owing to the activity and energy of the priest, Father Flores, who seems
CABALLO COCHA. 235
to have them in excellent order. They are now building a church for him, which, when finished, will be the finest in the Montaña.
The men are all decently clad in frock and trousers; and the women, besides the usual roll of cotton cloth around the loins, wear a short tunic covering the breast. I think that Father Flores, though he wants the honest simplicity and kindness of heart of Valdivia, and the noble patience, magnanimity, and gentleness of dear Father Calvo, is a better man for the Indians, and more successful in their management, than either of the others. He does not seem to care about their coming to church; for there was not an Indian at mass Sunday morning, (though the padre did give us a little homily on the importance of attending worship;) but he has them afraid of him, keeps them at work, sees that they keep themselves and houses clean, and the streets of the village in order; and I saw none of the abominable drinking and dancing with which the other Indians invariably wind up the Sunday.
The town is situated on quite an extensive plain; the soil is of a light, and rather sandy character, which, even in the rainy season, quickly absorbs the water, and makes the walking always agreeable. This is very rarely the case with the other villages of the Amazon. The climate is said to be very hot; and, from the fact that the village is yet closely surrounded by the forest, which keeps off the breeze, I suspect this is the case in the dry season. I did not find it so at this time.
It is very dangerous to bathe in the caño, on account of the alligators. Not long before my arrival, a woman, bathing after night-fall, in company with her husband, was seized and carried off by one of these monsters. She was not even in the caño, but was sitting on the bank, pouring water over her head with a gourd, when the reptile crawled from behind a log, where it had been lying, and carried her off in its mouth, though struck several heavy blows with a stick by the unfortunate husband. The padre next morning declared war upon the alligators, and had the Indians out with their harpoons and lances to destroy them, They killed a number; and they thought it remarkable that the first they killed should have parts of the woman yet undigested in its stomach. I think it probable that a good many alligators had a bite.
The lake is a pretty and nearly circular sheet of water of two and a half miles in diameter, and is twenty feet deep in the centre. There were a great many water-fowl in it, but principally cranes and cormorants.
Padre Flores, as usual, gave us a room in his house, and seats at his table. I admired a very old-looking silver spoon that he had on the table, and which Ijurra judged to be of the date of Ferdinand and Isabella, from the armed figures and lion’s head upon the handle; where
upon the padre, with the courtesy that belongs to his race, insisted upon my accepting it. I was glad to have it in my power to acknowledge the civility by pressing upon the padre a set of tumblers, neatly put up in a morocco case, which had been given me by R. E. Johnson, first lieutenant of the Vandalia.
After dark he proposed that we should go out and see some of the incantations of the Indians for the cure of the sick. We heard music at a distance, and approached a large house whence it proceeded, in which the padre said there was almost always some one sick. We listened at the door, which was closed. There seemed to be a number of persons singing inside. I was almost enchanted myself. I never heard such tones, and think that even instrumental music could not be made to equal them. I have frequently been astonished at the power of the Indians to mock animals; but I had heard nothing like this before. The tones were so low, so faint, so guttural, and at the same time so sweet and clear, that I could scarcely believe they came from human throats; and they seemed fitting sounds in which to address spirits of another world.
Some one appearing to approach the door, the priest and I fled; for, though we were mean enough to listen at a man’s door, we were ashamed to be caught at it; but hearing nothing further we returned, and Ijurra, with his usual audacity, pushed open the door and proposed to enter. The noise we made in opening the door caused a hasty retreat of some persons, which we could hear and partly see; and when we entered, we found but two Indians — an old man and a young one — sitting on the floor by a little heap of flaming copal, engaged in chewing tobacco and spitting in an earthen pot before them. The young man turned his face to the wall with a sullen look, and although the old man smiled when he was patted on the head and desired to proceed with his music, yet it was with a smile that had no mirth or satisfaction in it, and that showed plainly that he was annoyed, and would have expressed his annoyance had he dared.
The hut was a large one, and appeared larger in the gloom. There was a light burning in the farther end of it, which looked to be a mile off; Ijurra strode the distance and found it to be just twenty-four paces. There were a number of hammocks slung one above the other between the posts that supported the roof, and all seemed occupied. In one corner of the house was built a small partition of cane, in which I understood was confined a young girl, who was probably looking at us with curious eyes, but whom we could not see. I had been told before that it was the custom among most of the Indians of the Montaña to
THE CHIRICLIS. 237
shut up a girl when she entered into the period of womanhood, until the family could raise the means for a feast, when every body is invited; all hands get drunk; and the maiden is produced with much ceremony, and declared a woman of the tribe, whose hand may be sought in marriage. The confinements sometimes last several months; for the Indians do not hurry themselves in making their preparations, but are ready when the yuccas are gathered, the masato made, and there is a sufficient quantity of dried monkey in the house; so that it sometimes happens, when the poor girl is brought out, that she is nearly white. It is said that she frequently conceals her situation from her family, preferring a sound beating, when time betrays her, to the dreary imprisonment.
December 1. — I lost my beautiful and valued chiriclis, which died of the cold; it was put to bed as usual under the wash-basin, but the basin was not put under the armayari, its usual place, and it rained heavily all night. I was surprised at the delicacy of feeling shown by my Indian boatmen on the occasion; they knew how much I was attached to the bird, and, instead of tossing the carcass overboard, as they would have done with that of any other animal that I had, one of them brought it into my room before I was awake, and laid it decently, and with care, on a table at my bed-side. I felt the loss very sensibly first, because it was a present from good Father Calvo, upon whose head and shoulder I had so often seen it perched; and, secondly, on account of the bird itself. It was beautiful, gentle, and affectionate; and so gallant that I called it my Mohawk chief; I have seen it take the food, unresisted, out of the mouths of the parrots and macaws many times its size, by the mere reputation of its valor; and it waged many a desperate battle with the monkeys. Its triumphant song when it had vanquished an adversary was most amusing. It was very pleasant, as the cool of night came on, to find it, with beak and claws, climbing up the leg of my trousers until it arrived at the opening of my shirt, and to hear its low note of satisfaction as it entered and stowed itself snugly away in my armpit. It was as sensible of caresses, and as jealous, as a favorite; and I could never notice my little Pinshi monkey in its sight that it did not fly at it and drive it off.
This bird is the psit melanocephalus of Linneus. It is about the size of a robin; has black legs, yellow thighs, a spotted white breast, orange neck and head, and a brilliant green back and wings. There is another species of the same bird in Brazil. It is there called “periquito,” and differs from this in having the feathers on the top of the head black, so as to have the appearance of wearing a cowl. Enrique Antonii, an Italian resident at Barra, gave me one of this species, which was even
more docile and affectionate than the present of Father Calvo; but, to my infinite regret, he flew away from me at Pará.
I noticed growing about the houses of the village a couple of shrubs, six or eight feet high, called, respectively, yanapanga and pucapcanga. From the leaves of the first is made a black dye, and from those of the second a very rich scarlet. I surmised that a dye, like the indigo of commerce, though of course of different color, might be made of these leaves; and when I arrived in Brazil, I found that the Indians there were in the habit of making a scarlet powder of the pucapcanga, called caramú, quite equal, in brilliancy of color, to the dye of the cochineal. I believe that efforts have been made to introduce this dye into commerce, and I do not know why they have failed. I brought home a specimen.
Two brothers of Father Flores were quite sick with a “tertiana,” taken in gathering sarsaparilla upon the Napo. This is an intermittent fever of a malignant type. The patient becomes emaciated and yellow, and the spleen swells. I saw several cases as I came down the Marañon, but all were contracted on the tributaries. I saw or heard of no case that originated upon the main trunk.
December 2. — Much rain during the night. Sailed from Caballococha at half-past 2 p.m. Ijurra liked the appearance of things so much at this place that he determined, when he should leave me, to return to it and clear land for a plantation, which he has since done.
I lost my sounding-lead soon after starting, and had no soundings to Loreto, where we arrived at half-past 7 p.m., (twenty miles.) The river is much divided and broken up by islands, some of them small, and with sand-beaches. I believe they change their shape and size with every considerable rise of the river.
Loreto is situated on an eminence on the left bank, having the large island of Cacao in front. The river is three-fourths of a mile wide, and has one hundred and two feet of depth in mid-stream, with three miles the hour of current. The soil is a light-colored, tenacious clay, which, in the time of the rains, makes walking almost impossible, particularly as there are a number of cattle and hogs running about the village and trampling the clay into mire. There are three mercantile houses in Loreto, all owned by Portuguese. They do a business of about ten thousand dollars a year — that is, that value in goods, from above and below, passes through their hands. They tell me that they sell the goods from below at about twenty per cent. on Pará prices, which of course I did not believe. Senhor Sainten, the principal trader, told me that the business above was very
mean; that there was not a capitalist in Moyobamba able or willing to buy one thousand dollars’ worth of goods; and that they pay for their articles of merchandise from below almost altogether in straw-hats, as the Tarapoto people do in tocuyo. I saw a schooner-rigged boat lying along-side the bank. She was about forty feet long and seven broad; was built in Coari, and sold here for two hundred dollars, silver. The houses at Loreto are better built, and better furnished, than those of the towns on the river above. We are approaching civilization.
The population of Loreto is two hundred and fifty, made up of Brazilians, mulattoes, negroes, and a few Ticunas Indians. It is the frontier post of Peru. There are a few miles of neutral territory between it and Tabatinga, the frontier of Brazil.
December 4. — We left Loreto at half-past 6 a. m., with a cold wind from the northward and eastward, and rain. Thermometer, 76°. It seems strange to call the weather cold with the thermometer at 76°; but I really was very uncomfortable with it, and the monkeys seemed nearly frozen.
I estimate the length of the neutral territory, by the windings of the river, at twenty miles.
Since I purchased a boat at Nauta I had worn an American flag over it. I had been told that I probably would not be allowed to wear it in the waters of Brazil. But when the boat was descried at Tabatinga, the Brazilian flag was hoisted at that place; and when I landed, which I did dressed in uniform, I was received by the commandant, also in uniform, to whom I immediately presented my Brazilian passport, of which the following is a translation:
I, Sergio Teixeira de Macedo, of the Council of his Majesty, the Emperor of Brazil, his Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary near the United States of America, Officer of the Imperial Order of the Rose, Grand Cross of that of Christ, and Commnendador of various Foreign Orders, &c., &c.
Make known to all who shall see this passport, that William L. Herndon, lieutenant of the navy of the United States, and Lardner Gibbon, passed midshipman of the same, prosecute a voyage for the purpose of making geographical and scientific explorations from the republic of Peru, by the river Amazon and adjacent parts, to its mouth; and I charge all the authorities, civil, military, and policial, of the empire through whose districts they may have occasion to pass, that they place no obstacle in the way, as well of them as of the persons of their
company; but rather that they shall lend them all the facilities they may need, for the better prosecution of their enterprise.
For which purpose I have caused to be issued this passport, which I sign and seal with the seal of my arms.
As soon as my rank was ascertained, (which appeared to be that of a captain in the Brazilian army,) I was saluted with seven guns. The commandant used much stately ceremony towards me, but never left me a moment to myself until he saw me safely in bed on board my boat. I did not know, at first, whether this was polite attention or a watch upon me; but I think it was the latter, for, upon my giving him the slip, and walking over towards the old fort, he joined me within five minutes; and when we returned to his house he brought a dictionary, and, pointing with a cunning expression to the verb traar, (to draw,) asked me to read it. I did so, and handed the book back to him, when he pointed out to me the verb delinhar. I was a little fretted, for I thought he might as well ask me at once, and told him that I had no intention of making any drawings whatever, and had merely intended to take a walk. He treated me with great civility, and entertained me at his table, giving me roast-beef, which was a great treat.
It was quite pleasant, after coming from the Peruvian villages, which are all nearly hidden in the woods, to see that Tabatinga had the forest cleared away from about it, for a space of forty or fifty acres; was covered with green grass; and had a grove of orange-trees in its midst, though they were now old and past bearing. There are few houses to be seen, for those of the Ticunas are still in the woods. Those that are visible are the soldiers’ quarters, and the residences of a few whites that live here — white, however, in contradistinction to the Indian; for I think the only pure white man in the place was a Frenchman, who has resided a long time in Brazil, and has a large Brazilian family. The post is garrisoned by twenty soldiers, commanded by O Illustrissimo Senhor, Tenente, José Virisimo dos Santos Ligma, a cadet, a sergeant, and a corporal. The population of Tabatinga is about two hundred; mostly Indians of the Ticuna tribe. It is well situated for a frontier post, having all the river in front, only about half a mile wide, and
commanded from the fort by the longest range of cannon-shot. The fort is at present in ruins, and the artillery consists of two long brass twelve-pounder field-guns. I did not hoist my flag again, and the commandant seemed pleased. He said that it might give offence down the river, and told me that Count Castelnau, who had passed here some years before, borrowed a Brazilian flag from him and wore that. He also earnestly insisted that I should take his boat in lieu of my own, which he said was not large enough for the navigation of the lower part of the Amazon. I declined for a long time; but finding that he was very earnest about it, and embarrassed between his desire to comply with the request of the Brazilian minister at Washington, contained in my passport — “that Brazilian authorities should facilitate me in my voyage, and put no obstacle in my way” — and the requirements of the law of the empire forbidding foreign vessels to navigate its interior waters. I accepted his proposition, and exchanged boats; thus enabling him to say, in a frontier passport which he issued to me, that I was descending the river in Brazilian vessels. He desired me to leave his boat at Barra, telling me he had no doubt but that the government authorities there would furnish me with a better one. I told him very plainly that I had doubts of that, and that I might have to take his boat on to Pará; which I finally did, and placed it in the hands of his correspondent at that place. I was correct in my doubts; for, so far from the government authorities at Barra having a boat to place at my disposal, they borrowed mine and sent it up the river for a load of wood for building purposes. The commandant at Tabatinga, I was told, compelled the circus company that preceded me to abandon their Peruvian-built raft and construct another of the wood of the Brazilian forests. There is nothing cultivated at Tabatinga except a little sugar-cane to make molasses and rum, for home consumption. I was told that Castelnau found here a fly that answered perfectly all the purposes of cantharides, blistering the skin even more rapidly. I heard that he also found the same fly at Egas, lower down. Senhor Lima instituted a search for some for me, but there were none to be had at this season. He showed me an oblong, nut-shaped fruit, growing in clusters at the base of a lily-like plant, called pacova catinga, the seed of which was covered with a thick pulp, which, when scraped off and pressed, gave a very beautiful dark-purple dye. This, touched with lime juice, changed to a rich carmine. He tells me that the trade of the river is increasing very fast; that in 1849 scarce one thousand dollars worth of
242 RIVER YAVARI.
goods passed up; in 1850, two thousand five hundred dollars; and this year, six thousand dollars. December 5. — We were employed in fitting up the new boat, to which the commandant gave his personal attention. I asked him to give me some more peons. He said, “Certainly;” sent out a guard of soldiers; pressed five Tucunas, and put them in the guard-house till I was ready to start; when they were marched down to the boat, and a negro soldier sent along to take charge of them. He gave me all the beasts and birds he had, a demijohn of red wine, salt fish and farinha tor my men, and in short loaded me with kindness and civility. I had already parted with all the personal “traps” that I thought would be valuable and acceptable to my friends on the route, and could only make a show of acknowledgment by giving him, in return, a dozen masses of tobacco — an article which happened at this time to be scarce and valuable.December 6. — We embarked at half-past 1 p.m., accompanied by the commandant, the cadet, and the Frenchman, Jeronymo Fort, who had been kind enough to place his house at Egas at my disposal. Ijurra had privately got all the guns and pistols ready, and we received the commandant with a salute of, I should think, at least one hundred guns; for Ijurra did not leave off shooting for half an hour. They dropped down the river with us till 5 p.m., when, taking a parting cup (literally tea-cup) of the commandant’s present to the health of his Majesty the Emperor, we embraced and parted. I have always remembered with pleasure my intercourse with the Commandante Lima. We passed the end of the island of Aramasa, which fronts the mouth of the river Yavari, at 6, and camped on the right bank of the river at half-past 7. From a chart in the possession of M. Castelnau, and in the correctness of which he places confidence, it appears that the Yavari river has a distance from its mouth upwards of two hundred and seventy miles, and a course nearly east and west. At this point it bifurcates. The most western branch, which runs E. N. E., is called the Yavarisinho, and is a small and unimportant river. The eastern branch, called Jacarana, runs N. E. The authors of the chart (whom M. Castelnau thinks to be Portuguese commissioners, charged with the establishment of the boundaries) ascended the Yavari and Jacarana two hundred and ten miles in a straight line. But M. Castelnau says that this river is more than ordinarily tortuous, and estimates their ascent, by its sinuosities, at five hundred and twenty-five miles.
SAN PAULO. 243
A small river, called Tucuby, empties into the Yavari at forty-five miles from its mouth, and on the eastern side. A hundred and fifty miles further up enters a considerable river, called the Curuzá, also from the east. M. Castelnau thinks, however, from report, that the Curuzá is not navigable upwards more than ninety miles. Sugar-cane is sometimes seen floating on the water of the Jacarana, which indicates that its upper parts are inhabited by people who have communication, more or less direct, with white men. (Castelnau, vol. 5, p. 52.) December 7. — The river now has lost its name of Marañon, and, since the junction of the Yavari, is called Solimoens. It is here a mile and a half wide, sixty-six feet deep in the middle, and has a current of two miles and three-quarters per hour. The small boat in which we carry our animals did not stop with us last night, but passed on without being noticed. She had all our fowls and turtles; so that our breakfast this morning consisted of boiled rice. We drifted with the tide all night, stopping for an hour in consequence of a severe squall of wind and rain from the eastward. December 8. — Rainy morning. We arrived at San Paulo at 10 a.m. This village is on a hill two or three hundred feet above the present level of the river — the highest situation I have yet seen. The ascent to the town is very difficult and tedious, particularly after a rain, the soil being of white clay. On the top of this hill is a moist, grassy plain, which does not extend far back. The site is said not to be healthy, on account of swamps back of it. The population is three hundred and fifty, made up of thirty whites, and the rest Tucunas and Juries Indians. The commandant is the Lieutenant Don “José Patricio de Santa Ana.” He gave us a good breakfast and some statistics. The yearly exports of San Paulo are eight thousand pounds of sarsaparilla, worth one thousand dollars; four hundred and fifty pots of manteca, or oil made from turtle-eggs, worth five hundred and fifty dollars; and three thousand-two hundred pounds of cocoa, worth sixty-four dollars. These are all sent to Egas. Common English prints sell for thirty cents the covado, (about three-fourths of a yard,) and coarse, strong cotton cloth (generally American) for thirty-seven and a half cents the vara, (three inches less than a yard.) We left San Paulo at half-past 3 p.m., and drifted with the current all night. Distance from Tabatinga to San Paulo, ninety-five miles.
December 9. — At half-past 8 a.m. we arrived at Maturá, a settlement of four or five huts, (with only one occupied,) on a muddy bank. Its distance from San Paulo is fifty miles. The shores of the river are generally low, though there are reaches where its banks are forty
244 RIVER ICA.
or fifty feet high, commonly of white or red clay. There is much colored earth on the banks of the river — red, yellow, and white — which those people who have taste make use of to plaster the inside of their houses. The banks are continually falling into the stream, sometimes in very large masses, carrying trees along with them, and forming one of the dangers and impediments to upward navigation where the boats have to keep close in shore to avoid the current.
We passed through a strait, between two islands, where the river was not more than eighty yards wide. It presented a singular contrast to the main river, to which we had become so much accustomed that this looked like a rivulet. It had forty-eight feet depth, and two and a quarter miles current. At half-past four we entered the mouth of the Iqa, or Putumayo, fifteen miles from Maturá. This is a fine-looking river, half a mile broad at the mouth, and opening into an estuary (formed by the left bank of the Amazon and islands on the right hand) of a mile in width. We found one hundred and thirty-eight feet in the middle of the mouth, and a current of two miles and three-quarters an hour. The water is clearer than that of the Amazon. A man at Tunantins, who had navigated this river a good deal, told me that one might ascend in a canoe for three and a half months, and that the current was so rapid that the same distance might be run down in fifteen days. This I think incredible; but there is no doubt that the Iqa is a very long and very rapid river. He described it as shallow after two months of navigation upwards, with large sand-beaches, and many small streams emptying into it, on which is found much sarsaparilla. Many slaves of the Brazilians escape by way of this river into New Grenada.
San Antonio is a village about two miles below the mouth of the Iça. It is a collection of four or five houses of Brazilians, and a few Indian huts. The people seemed mad for tobacco, and begged me earnestly to sell them some. I told them I would not sell for money, but I was willing to exchange for things to eat, or for rare birds and beasts. They ransacked the town, but could only raise five fowls, half a dozen eggs, two small turtles, and three bunches of plantains. They had no animals but such as I already had, and I only bought a macaw and a “pavoncito,” or little peacock. The little tobacco I gave for these things, however, was not enough to give every body a smoke, and they implored me to sell them some for money. They came to the canoe after night, and showed so strong a desire to have it that I feared they would rob me. Finding me inexorable, they went off abusing me, which excited the wrath of Ijurra to a high pitch. Our stock of tobacco,
which we had bought in Nauta, was now very much reduced, We had used it, during our voyage on the Ucayali, to purchase food and curiosities, and to give to the peons, who were not satisfied or contented unless they had an occasional smoke. We also had been liberal with it to governors and curates, who had been civil to us; and now we had barely enough for our own use to last us to Barra. I gave twenty-five cents the mass for it in Nauta, though the “Paraguá” cheated me, and should only have charged me twelve and a half. We could have sold it all the way to Barra for thirty-seven and a half, and fifty cents.
December 10. — Between San Antonio and Tunantins we met the governor of San Antonio, a military-looking white man, returning with his wife and children from a visit to Tunantins. I showed him my passport, which he asked for, and we interchanged civilities and presents; he giving me a “chiriclis,” like the one I lost at Caballo-cocha, and water-melons; and I making him a present of tobacco and a tinder-box. The species of bird he gave me is called, in Brazil, Marianita. This one took a singular disease, by which it lost the use of its legs-hopped about for some days on the knee-joints, with the leg and foot turned upwards in front, and then died. At twenty miles from San Antonio we entered the mouth of the Tunantins river. It is about fifty yards broad, and seems deep, with a considerable current. The town is prettily situated on a slight green eminence on the left bank, about half a mile from the mouth. The population is said to be between two and three hundred, though I would not suppose it to be near as much. It is composed of the tribes of Cayshanas and Juries, and about twenty-five whites.
One sees very few Indians in the Portuguese villages. They seem to live apart, and in the woods; and are, I think, gradually disappearing before the advance of civilization. They are used as beasts of burden, and are thought no further of. At 2 p.m. we left Tunantins. The river has eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty feet down to its entrance into the Amazon, where it forms a bar of sand, stretching some hundreds of yards out and downwards, on which is only six feet of water.
December 11. — We stopped at a factoria on the left bank, sixty-five miles from Tunantins, where people were making manteiga. The effect of “mirage” was here very remarkable. When within a mile or two of the factoria, I thought I saw quite a large town, with houses of two or three stories, built of stone and brick, with large heaps of white stone lying about in several places. There was a vessel lying off the town that I was satisfied was a large brig-of-war; but upon drawing near, my three-story houses dwindled to the smallest palm ranchos; my heaps of building
246 MAKING MANTEIGA
stones to piles of egg-shells; and my man-of-war to a schooner of thirty tons.
`The season for making manteiga on the Amazon generally ends by the first of November; but the rise of the river this year has been unusually late and small. The people are still collecting the eggs, though they all have young turtles in them.
A commandant, with soldiers, is appointed every year by some provincial or municipal authority to take care of the beaches, prevent disorder, and administer justice.
Sentinels are placed at the beginning of August, when the turtles commence depositing their eggs, and are withdrawn when the beach is exhausted. They see that no one wantonly interferes with the turtles, or destroys the eggs. Those engaged in the making of manteiga pay a capitation tax of twelve and a half cents duty to the government.
The process of making it is very disgusting. The eggs, though they be rotten and offensive, are collected, thrown into a canoe, and trodden to a mass with the feet. The shells and young turtles are thrown out. Water is poured on, and the residue is left to stand in the sun for several days. The oil rises to the top; is skimmed off and boiled in large copper boilers. It is then put in earthen pots of about forty-five pounds weight. Each pot of oil is worth on the beach one dollar and thirty cents, and in Pará usually sells at from two and a half to three dollars.
A turtle averages eighty eggs; forty turtles will give a pot. Twenty-five men will make two hundred pots in twelve days. The beaches of the Amazon and tributaries yield from five to six thousand pots annually. The empty pot costs twelve and a half cents in Pará. Prolific as they are, I think the turtle is even now diminishing in number on the Amazon. Vast numbers of the young are eaten by the Indians, who take them by the time they are able to crawl, and when they do not measure more than an inch in diameter; boil them, and eat them as a delicacy. One Indian will devour two dozen of these three or four times a day The birds also pick up a great number of them as they crawl from their nest to the water; and I imagine the fish, too, make them pay toll as they pass. I heard complaints of the growing scarcity, both of fish and manteiga, as I came down the river.
This factoria is a small one, and will give but two or three hundred pots. One requires a good stomach to be able to eat his breakfast at one of these places. The stench is almost intolerable; the beach is covered with greedy and disgusting-looking buzzards, and the surface of the water dotted with the humps of the deadly alligator.
By visiting the factoria, I missed the mouth of the Jutay, which is
RIVER JUTAY. 247
on the other side. I was misled by Smyth’s map. He places the island of Mapaná some distance above the mouth of the Jutay, and represents the Amazon as clear of islands where that river enters. A large island commences just abreast the factoria, which the people then told me was called Invira, though they did not seem certain of this. They told me that in rounding the lower end of that island, I would find myself at the mouth of the Jutay. This was not so, for, when I doubled the point, I was two or three miles below it. I saw where it emptied into the Amazon; but both myself and people were too tired to turn back and examine it.
The Indians of the Jutay are Maraguas, (christianized Indians,) who inhabit the banks at a distance of two days up. (Their houses are built of wood and plastered, and they show a taste and fondness for mechanics.) Maragua-Catuquinas, of whom a few are baptized, two days further up; and Catuquinas Infidels, four days still further.
The products of the river are one hundred and fifty arrobas of sarsaparilla yearly, one hundred pots of manteiga, and a great quantity of farinha. In the last four years, five men of Egas have been killed by the Indians of the Jutay. My informant is Senhor Batalha, a merchant at Egas. M. Castelnau estimates, from the report of traders, that this river is navigable upward for about five hundred and forty miles, ancd that its sources are not far from those of the Yavari. From Tunantins to the mouth of the Jutay is seventy-five miles.
I was surprised to find in this part of the river between Tunantins and Fonteboa but a mile and a quarter current per hour. I attributed it to bad measurement — from having only a two-pound weight as a lead; yet as the line was not larger than ordinary twine, and was sufftered to run freely over the gunwale of the boat, without friction or impediment of any kind, I can scarcely suppose that the lead dragged, The frequent remark of both Ijurra and myself was, “The river does not ran.” (No corre el rio.) Below Fonteboa, where I bought a four-pound lead, I found the current at its usual velocity of two and a half miles. I think that I have used up nearly all the four-pound weights on the river, having lost at least half a dozen. My lines, generally made of chambira, rot with the rain and sun, and break with little strain. We anchored at 8 p.m. off a sandy beach, where there was another factoria, thirty miles distant from the upper one.
The Ticunas whom I brought with me from Tabatinga are even more lazy and careless than the Sarayaquinos. I fancied that it was because they were forced into the service, and did not think that they would be paid; so I gave each. one as a gratuity, a knife, a pair of
scissors, and a small mirror; but they were no better afterwards than before. Poor fellows! they have been abused and maltreated so long that they are now insensible even to kindness. The negro soldier was sent along, either as a pilot or to govern the Ticunas, or as a watch upon me, is drunken and worthless. He knows nothing of the river, and, I believe, steals my liquor.
December 12. — There are evidently many newly-formed islands in the river. We ran, all the morning, through narrow island passages; the channels, in some places, not over forty yards wide, but of twenty and thirty feet of depth. We passed another factoria on a point of an island near the main river, with a schooner moored off; and stopped at a quarter past six on the sandy point of a small island, where there were mandioc and water-melons. I am surprised at the quality of the soil in which this mandioc grows. To a casual observation it appears pure sand.
December 13. — At 8 a.m. we entered a narrow arm of the river, sixty miles from the mouth of the Jutay, that leads by Fonteboa. This canal separates the island of “Cacao” (on which much cocoa grows wild) from the main land. The caño is not more than twenty yards broad. The least water I found was nine feet. Fonteboa is about eight miles from the entrance of the canal. It is situated on a hill a quarter of a mile within the mouth of the river of the same name that empties into the canal. Smyth says that the town gets its name from the clearness of the water of the river; but it is not so at this season. There is no current in the river at the village, and the water was very nearly quite as muddy as that of the Amazon.
The population of Fonteboa is two hundred and fifty. There are eighty whites. We met several traders at this place bound up and down the river. One, named Guerrero, an intelligent-looking person, from Obydos, was going up with a cargo that I heard valued at twenty contos of reis, (about ten thousand five hundred dollars.) This was manifestly an exaggeration. His schooner, of some thirty-five tons burden, I think, could not carry the value of that sum in the heavy and bulky articles usually sent up the river. He had, however, a variety of articles. I bought some red wine and rum for stores; and Ijurra bought very good shoes and cotton stockings. This gentleman invited us to breakfast with him. His plates and cups were of pewter, and he seemed well equipped for travelling. He said that nearly all the cultivable land about Obydes, Santarem, and Villa Nova was already occupied; that most of it was so low and swampy that it was valueless; and that people would soon have to come up here where the ground
RIVER JURUA. 249
was high and rich. He was sixty-two working days from Obydos, and expected to be thirty to Loreto.
Sailed at 3 p.m.; found but five feet of water where the river of Fonteboa joins the caño. The distance by the caño to its outlet into the main river is two miles. The banks below Fonteboa are quite high, and of red and white clay. Stopped for the night at half-past 6 p.m.
December 14. — Started at half-past 4 a.m. Misty morning. At ten entered the mouth of the Juruá, thirty-six miles from Fonteboa Its left bank is very low, and covered with grass and shrub willows; the right bank high and wooded. It has half a mile of width at the mouth; but, a mile up, it seemed divide into two narrow channels by a large island. The Amazon is a mile and a quarter wide where the Juruá enters; but there is a large island in front, and the river is probably equally as wide on the other side. We pulled half a mile up the stream. The water was clearer, though more yellow, than that of the Amazon. In running out the half-mile that I had pulled up, which we did in mid-stream, the soundings deepened, as fast as I could heave the lead, from thirty-six to seventy-eight feet. Just at the mouth they lessened again to sixty-six. The current was a mile and three-quarters the hour. The bottom was of white and black sand; temperature of the water 82°; the same with the temperature of the air and with that of the water of the Amazon.
The Indians of the Juruá, I was afterwards told by Senhor Batalha, are Arauas and Catatuxis who are met with at eight days’ journey up. Some of these are baptized Indians; but the Arauas are described as a treacherous people, who frequently rob and murder the traders on the river. Two months further up are the Culinos and Nawas Infidels. Between these two was a nation called the Canamaris, but they have been nearly entirely destroyed by the Arauas. It is almost impossible to get an accurate idea of the number of the Indians; but I judge, from what I have seen, and from the diversity of names of the tribes, that this is not great. The productions of the Juruá are sarza, manteiga, copaiba, seringa, (India rubber,) cocoa, and farinha. At the mouth of a creek (Igarapé) called Menerua there are Brazil nuts, This year all the expeditions to the Juruá were failures, on account of the hostility of the Arauas.
M. Castelnau, in summing up the accounts of this river, which he had from traders on it, supposes that it may be ascended about seven hundred and eighty miles, or to near the twelfth degree of south latitude. A man showed him a small medal that he had taken from an Indian, on the Taruaca, a tributary of the Juruá, which he recognised
250 RIVER JURUA.
as a Spanish quarter of a dollar. A short distance above the junction of the Taruaca, the Juruá bifurcates. The principal arm, which comes from the left, has its waters of a white color; and the Indians who dwell upon its branches say that the whites have a village near its sources. (Castelnau, vol. 5, pp. 89, 90.)
M. Castelnau collected some very curious stories concerning the Indians who dwell upon the banks of the Juruá. He says, (vol. 5, p. 105,) “I cannot pass over in silence a very curious passage of Padre Noronha, and which one is astonished to find in a work of so grave a character in other respects. The Indians, Cauams and Uginas (says the padre,) live near the sources of the river. The first are of very short stature, scarcely exceeding five palms, (about three and a half feet;) and the last (of this there is no doubt) have tails, and are produced by a mixture of Indians and Coata monkeys. Whatever may be the cause of this fact, I am led to give it credit for three reasons: first, because there is no physical reason why men should not have tails; secondly, because many Indians, whom I have interrogated regarding this thing, have assured me of the fact, telling me that the tail was a palm and a half long; and, thirdly, because the Reverend Father Friar José de Santa Theresa Ribeiro, a Carmelite, and Curate of Castro de Avelaeñs, assured me that he saw the same thing in an Indian who came from Japura, and who sent me the following attestation:
“‘I, Jose de Santa Theresa Ribeiro, of the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ancient Observance, &c., certify and swear, in my quality of Priest, and on the Holy Evangelists, that, when I was a missionary in the ancient village of Parauaù, where was afterwards built the village of Noguera, I saw, in 1755, a man called Manuel da Silva, native of Pernambuco, or Bahia, who came from the river Japurla with some Indians, amongst whom was one — an Infidel brute — who the said Manuel declared to me had a tail; and as I was unwilling to believe such an extraordinary fact, he brought the Indian and caused him to strip, on pretence of removing some turtles from a pen, near which I stood to assure myself of the truth. There I saw, without possibility of error, that the man had a tail, of the the thickness of a finger, and half a palm long, and covered with a smooth land naked skin. The same Manuel assured me that the Indian had told him that every month he cut his tail, because he did not like to have it too long, and it grew very fast. I do not know to what nation this man belonged, nor if all his tribe had a similar tail; but I understood afterwards that there was a
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tailed nation upon the banks of the Juruá; and I sign this act and seal it in affirmation of the truth of all that it contains.
“ESTABLISHMENT OF CASTRO DEI AVELAENS, October 14, 1768. “FR. JOSE DE STA. THERESA RIBEIRO.”
M. Baena (Corog, Pará) has thought proper to repeat these strange assertions. “In this river,” says he, speaking of the Juruá, (p. 487,) “there are Indians, called Canamas, whose height does not exceed five palms; and there are others, called Uginas, who have a tail of three or four palms, (four palms and an inch, Portuguese, make nearly an English yard,) according to the report of many persons. But I leave to every one to put what faith he pleases in these assertions.”
M. Castelnau says, after giving these relations, “I will add but a word. Descending the Amazon, I saw one day, near Fonteboa, a black Coata, of enormous dimensions. He belonged to an Indian woman, to whom I offered a large price, for the country, for the curious beast; but she refused me with a burst of laughter.’Your efforts are useless,’ said an Indian who was in the cabin; that is her husband.”
These Coatas, of which I had several, are a large, black, pot-bellied monkey. They average about two and a half feet of height, have a few thin hairs on the top of their head, and look very like an old negro.
We breakfasted at the mouth of the river. After breakfast one of the Ticunas from Tabatinga was directed by the soldier to take up one of the macaws that was walking on the beach and put it in the boat preparatory to a start. The man, in an angry and rude manner, took the bird up and tossed it into the boat, to the manifest danger of injuring it. I was standing in the larger boat close by, and saw his insolent manner. I took up a paddle and beckoned him to come to me; but he walked sulkily up the beach. I thought it a good time to see whether, in the event of these surly fellows becoming mutinous, I could count upon my Sarayacu people; so I directed two of them to bring the Ticuna to me. They turned to obey, but slowly, and evidently unwillingly, when my quick and passionate friend Ijurra sprang upon the Indian, and, taking him by the collar, jerked him to where I was. I made great demonstrations with my paddle, though without the slightest idea of striking him, (for I always shunned, with the utmost care, the rendering myself amenable to any of the tribunals or authorities of Brazil,) and abused him in English, which I imagine answered quite as well as any other language but his own would have done. I think this little “fracas” had a happy effect upon all the Indians, and they improved in cheerfulness and
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willingness to work afterwards. The Ticunas that I had with me, however, were far the laziest and most worthless people that I had hitherto had anything to do with. I believe that this is not characteristic of the tribe, for they seemed well enough under Father Flores at Caballo-cocha, and they have generally rather a good reputation among the whites oil the river. I imagine that the proximity of the garrison at Tabatinga has not a good effect upon their manners and morals; but, however that may be, these men were too lazy to help to cook the provisions; and when we stopped to breakfast they generally seated themselves on the thwarts of the boat, or on the sand of the beach, whilst the Sarayaquinos fetched the wood and made the fire. They were ready enough to eat when the breakfast was cooked. I couldn’t stand this, when I observed that it was a customary thing, and accordingly caused the provisions issued to be divided between the two parties, and told my Ticuna friends, “No cook, no eat.” It would take many years of sagacious treatment on the part of their rulers to civilize this people, if it be possible to do so at all.
December 15. — We travelled till 11 p.m., for want of a beach to camp on; the men disliking to sleep in the woods on account of snakes.
December 16. — Finding that I was on the southern bank, and having an opening between two islands abreast of me, I struck off to the eastward for the mouth of the Japura. We ran through island passages till we reached it at 3 p.m., distant one hundred and five miles from the mouth of the Juruá.
The Japurá has two mouths within a few hundred yards of each other. The one to the westward is the largest, being about one hundred yards wide. It is a pretty stream of clear, yellow water, with bold and abrupt, though not high banks, (ten or fifteen feet.) I pulled up about half a mile, and in mid-stream found fifty-seven feet of water, which shoaled to the mouth to forty-two; the bottom soft mud to the touch; but the arming of the lead brought up small quantities of black and white sand. There was very little current-only three-fourths of a mile per hour. I thought it might be affected by the rush of its greater neighbor, and that the water so near the mouth was “back water” from the Amazon; but the current was quite as great close to the mouth as it was half a mile up. The temperature of the water, to my surprise, was 85°; that of the Amazon, a quarter of an hour afterwards, was 81°. I had heard that, on account of the gentleness of the current of the Japurá, a voyage of a month up this river was equal in distance of two on the Iça. A month up the Japurá reaches the first impediment to navigation, where the river breaks through hills called “As Serras das Ararars,” or hills of the
INDIANS OF THE JAPURA. 253
macaws; and where the bed of the stream is choked with immense rocks, which make it impassable even for a canoe. A gentleman at Egas told me of an extraordinary blowing cave among these hills.
The Indians of the Japurá are called Mirauas, (a large tribe,) Curitus, and Macus. The traveller reaches them in sixteen days from the mouth. The Macus have no houses, but wander in the woods; infest the river banks; and rob and kill when they can. (These are the fruits of the old Brazilian system of hunting Indians to make slaves of them.) The products of the Japurá are the same as those of the Juruá; and, in addition, a little carajurú, a very brilliant scarlet dye, made of the leaves of a bush called pucapanga in Peru. The Indians pack it in little bags made of the inner bark of a tree, and sell at the rate of twenty-five cents the pound. I am surprised that it has never found its way into commerce. I think it of quite as brilliant and beautiful a color as cochineal.
I judge the width of the Amazon, opposite the mouth of the Japurá, to be four or five miles. It is separated into several channels by two or three islands. We camped, at half-past 6 p.m., on an island where there was a hut and a patch of mandioc and Indian corn, but no people. We had a clear night, (with the exception of a low belt of stratus clouds around the horizon,) the first we have seen for more than a week.
December 17 — Started at 4 a. m. It was too dark to see the upper point of an island between us and the southern shore till we had passed it; so that we had to pull up for an hour against the current, so as to pass the head of this island and not fall below Egas. At half-past eight we entered a narrow channel betwen a small island and the right bank, which conducted us into the river of Teffé, about a mile inside of its mouth. The river at this point is one hundred and eighty yards broad; water clear and apparently deep. Just below Egas, where we arrived at halfpast ten, it expands into a lake; or, rather, the lake here contracts into the river. The town is situated on a low point that stretches out into the lake, and has a harbor on each side of it. The point rises into a regular slope, covered with grass, to the woods behind. The lake is shallow, and is sometimes, with the exception of two or three channels, which have always six or eight feet of water in them, entirely dry from Egas to Nogueyra, a small village on the opposite side.
On landing we showed our passports to the sub-delegado, an officer of the general government who has charge of the police of the district, and to the military commandant, and forthwith inducted ourselves into the house of M. Fort, our French friend of Tabatinga, who had placed it at our disposal.