Through the Brazilian Wilderness/The Outfit for Travelling in the South American Wilderness
SOUTH AMERICA includes so many different kinds of country that it is impossible to devise a scheme of equipment which shall suit all. A hunting-trip in the pantanals, in the swamp country of the upper Paraguay, offers a simple problem. An exploring trip through an unknown tropical forest region, even if the work is chiefly done by river, offers a very difficult problem. All that I can pretend to do is to give a few hints as the results of our own experience.
For bedding there should be a hammock, mosquito net, and light blanket. These can be obtained in Brazil. For tent a light fly is ample; ours were brought with us from New York. In exploring only the open fly should be taken; but on trips where weight of luggage is no objection, there can be walls to the tent and even a canvas floor-cloth. Camp-chairs and a camp table should be brought—any good outfitter in the United States will supply them—and not thrown away until it becomes imperative to cut everything down. On a river trip, first-class pulleys and ropes—preferably steel, and at any rate very strong—should be taken. Unless the difficulties of transportation are insuperable, canvas-and-cement canoes, such as can be obtained from various firms in Canada and the United States, should by all means be taken. They are incomparably superior to the dugouts. But on different rivers wholly different canoes, of wholly different sizes, will be needed; on some steam or electric launches may be used; it is not possible to lay down a general rule.
As regards arms, a good plain 12-bore shotgun with a 30–30 rifle-barrel underneath the others is the best weapon to have constantly in one’s hand in the South American forests, where big game is rare and yet may at any time come in one’s path. When specially hunting the jaguar, marsh-deer, tapir, or big peccary, an ordinary light repeating rifle—the 30–30, 30–40, or 256—is preferable. No heavy rifle is necessary for South America. Tin boxes or trunks are the best in which to carry one’s spare things. A good medicine-chest is indispensable. Nowadays doctors know so much of tropical diseases that there is no difficulty in fitting one out. It is better not to make the trip at all than to fail to take an ample supply of quinine pills. Cholera pills and cathartic pills come next in importance. In liquid shape there should be serum to inject for the stoppage of amœbic dysentery, and anti-snake-venom serum. Fly-dope should be taken in quantities.
For clothing Kermit and I used what was left over from our African trip. Sun helmets are best in the open; slouch-hats are infinitely preferable in the woods. There should be hobnailed shoes—the nails many and small, not few and large; and also moccasins or rubber-soled shoes; and light, flexible leggins. Tastes differ in socks; I like mine of thick wool. A khaki-colored shirt should be worn, or, as a better substitute, a khaki jacket with many pockets. Very light underclothes are good. If one’s knees and legs are unfortunately tender, knicker-bockers with long stockings and leggins should be worn; ordinary trousers tend to bind the knee. Better still, if one’s legs will stand the exposure, are shorts, not coming down to the knee. A kilt would probably be best of all. Kermit wore shorts in the Brazilian forest, as he had already worn them in Africa, in Mexico, and in the New Brunswick woods. Some of the best modern hunters always wear shorts; as for example, that first-class sportsman the Duke of Alva.
Mr. Fiala, after the experience of his trip down the Papagaio, the Juruena, and the Tapajos, gives his judgment about equipment and provisions as follows:
The history of South American exploration has been full of the losses of canoes and cargoes and lives. The native canoe made from the single trunk of a forest giant is the craft that has been used. It is durable and if lost can be readily replaced from the forest by good men with axes and adzes. But, because of its great weight and low free-board, it is unsuitable as a freight carrier and by reason of the limitations of its construction is not of the correct form to successfully run the rapid and bad waters of many of the South American rivers. The North American Indian has undoubtedly developed a vastly superior craft in the birch-bark canoe and with it will run rapids that a South American Indian with his log canoe would not think of attempting, though, as a general thing, the South American Indian is a wonderful waterman, the equal and, in some ways, the superior of his northern contemporary. At the many carries or portages the light birch-bark canoe or its modern representative, the canvas-covered canoe, can be picked up bodily and carried by from two to four men for several miles, if necessary, while the log canoe has to be hauled by ropes and back-breaking labor over rollers that have first to be cut from trees in the forest, or at great risk led along the edge of the rapids with ropes and hooks and poles, the men often up to their shoulders in the rushing waters, guiding the craft to a place of safety.
The native canoe is so long and heavy that it is difficult to navigate without some bumps on the rocks. In fact, it is usually dragged over the rocks in the shallow water near shore in preferance to taking the risk of a plunge through the rushing volume of deeper water, for reasons stated above. The North American canoe can be turned with greater facility in critical moments in bad water. Many a time I heard my steersman exclaim with delight as we took a difficult passage between two rocks with our loaded Canadian canoe. In making the same passage the dugout would go sideways toward the rapid until by a supreme effort her three powerful paddlers and steersman would right her just in time. The native canoe would ship great quantities of water in places the Canadian canoe came through without taking any water on board. We did bump a few rocks under water, but the canoe was so elastic that no damage was done.
Our nineteen-foot canvas-covered freight canoe, a type especially built for the purpose on deep, full lines with high free-board, weighed about one hundred and sixty pounds and would carry a ton of cargo with ease—and also take it safely where the same cargo distributed among two or three native thirty or thirty-five foot canoes would be lost. The native canoes weigh from about nine hundred to two thousand five hundred pounds and more.
In view of the above facts the explorer-traveller is advised to take with him the North American canoe if he intends serious work. Two canoes would be a good arrangements for from five to seven men, with at least one steersman and two paddlers to each canoe. The canoes can be purchased in two sizes and nested for transportation, an arrangement which would have considerable expense in freight bills. At least six paddles should be packed with each boat, in length four and one half, four and three fourths, and five feet. Other paddles from six and one half feet to eight and one half feet should be provided for steering oars. The native paddler, after he has used the light Canadian paddle, prefers it to the best native make. My own paddlers lost or broke all of their own paddles so as to get the North American ones, which they marked with their initials and used most carefully.
To each canoe it would be well to have two copper air tanks, one fore, one aft, a hand-hole in each with a water-tight screw cover on hatch. In these tanks could be kept a small supply of matches, the chronometer or watch which is used for position, and the scientific records and diary. Of course, the fact should be kept in mind that these are air tanks, not to be used so as to appreciably diminish their buoyancy. Each canoe should also carry a small repair kit attached to one of the thwarts, containing cement, a piece of canvas same as cover of canoe, copper tacks, rivets, and some galvanized nails; a good hatchet and a hammer; a small can of canoe paint, spar varnish, and copper paint for worn places would be a protection against termites and torrential downpours. In concluding the subject of canoes I can state that the traveller in South America will find no difficulty in disposing of his craft at the end of his trip.
MOTORS—We had with us a three and one half horse-power motor which could be attached to stern or gunwale of canoe or boat. It was made by the Evinrude Motor Company, who had a magneto placed in the flywheel of the engine so that we never had to resort to the battery to run the motor. Though the motor was left out in the rain and sun, often without a cover, by careless native help, it never failed us. We found it particularly valuable in going against the strong current of the Sepotuba River where several all-night trips were made up-stream, the motor attached to a heavy boat. For exploration up-stream it would be valuable, particularly as it is easily portable, weighing for the two horse-power motor fifty pounds, for three and one half horse-power one hundred pounds. If a carbureter could be attached so that kerosene could be used it would add to its value many times, for kerosene can be purchased almost anywhere in South America.
TENTS—There is nothing better for material than the light waterproof Sea Island cotton of American manufacture, made under the trade name of waterproof silk. It keeps out the heaviest rain and is very light. Canvas becomes water-soaked, and cravenetted material lets the water through. A waterproof canvas floor is a luxury, and, though it adds to the weight, it may with advantage be taken on ordinary trips. The tent should be eight by eight or eight by nine feet, large enough to swing a comfortable hammock. A waterproof canvas bag, a loose-fitting envelope for the tent should be provided. Native help is, as a rule, careless, and the bag would save wear and tear.
HAMMOCKS—The hammock is the South American bed, and the traveller will find it exceedingly comfortable. After leaving the larger cities and settlements a bed is a rare object. All the houses are provided with extra hammock hooks. The traveller will be entertained hospitably and after dinner will be given two hooks upon which to hang his hammock, for he will be expected to have his hammock and, in insect time, his net, if he has nothing else. As a rule, a native hammock and net can be procured in the field. But it is best to take a comfortable one along, arranged with a fine-meshed net.
In regard to the folding cot: It is heavy and its numerous legs form a sort of highway system over which all sorts of insects can crawl up to the sleeper. The ants are special pests and some of them can bite with the enthusiastic vigor of beasts many times their size. The canvas floor in a tent obviates to a degree the insect annoyance.
The headwaters of the rivers are usually reached by pack-trains of mules and oxen. The primitive ox-cart also comes in where the trail is not too bad. One hundred and sixty to one one hundred and eighty pounds is a good load for the pack-animals, and none of the cases should weigh more than fifty or sixty pounds. Each case should be marked with its contents and gross and net weight in kilos.
For personal baggage the light fibre sample case used by travelling men in the United States does admirably. The regulation fibre case with its metal binding sold for the purpose is too heavy and has the bad feature of swelling up under the influence of rain and dampness, often necessitating the use of an axe or heavy hammer to remove cover.
The ordinary fibre trunk is good for rail and steamer travel, but it is absolutely unpractical for mule-back or canoe. The fibre sample case could be developed into a container particularly fitted for exploration. The fibre should be soaked in hot paraffine and then hot-calendered or hot-pressed. This case could then be covered with waterproof canvas with throat opening like a duffel-bag.
The waterproof duffel-bags usually sold are too light in texture and wear through. A heavier grade should be used. The small duffel-bag is very convenient for hammock and clothing, but generally the thing wanted will be at the bottom of the bag! We took with us a number of small cotton bags. As cotton is very absorbent, I had them paraffined. Each bag was tagged and all were placed in the large duffel-bag. The light fibre case described above, made just the right size for mule pack, divided by partitions, and covered with a duffel-bag, would prove a great convenience.
The light steel boxes made in England for travellers in India and Africa would prove of value in South American exploration. They have the advantage of being insect and water proof and the disadvantage of being expensive.
It would be well if the traveller measured each case for personal equipment and computed the limit of weight that it could carry and still float. By careful distribution of light and heavy articles in the different containers, he could be sure of his belongings floating if accidentally thrown into the water.
It is not always possible to get comfortable native saddles. They are all constructed on heavy lines with thick padding which becomes water-soaked in the rainy season. A United States military saddle, with Whitman or McClellan tree, would be a positive luxury. Neither of them is padded, so would be the correct thing for all kinds of weather. The regulation army saddle-blanket is also advised as a protection for the mule’s back. The muleteer should wash the saddle-blanket often. For a long mule-back trip through a game country, it would be well to have a carbine boot on the saddle (United States Army) and saddle-bags with canteen and cup. In a large pack-train much time and labor are lost every morning collecting the mules which strayed while grazing. It would pay in the long run to feed a little corn at a certain hour every morning in camp, always ringing a bell or blowing a horn at the time. The mules would get accustomed to receiving the feed and would come to camp for it at the signal.
All the rope that came to my attention in South America was three-strand hemp, a hard material, good for standing rigging but not good for tackle or for use aboard canoes. A four-ply bolt rope of best manilla, made in New Bedford, Mass., should be taken. It is the finest and most pliable line in the world, as any old whaler will tell you. Get a sailor of the old school to relay the coils before you go into the field so that the rope will be ready for use. Five eighths to seven eighths inch diameter is large enough. A few balls of marline come in conveniently as also does heavy linen fish-line.
A small-sized duffel-bag should be provided for each of the men as a container for hammock and net, spare clothing, and mess-kit. A very small waterproof pouch or bag should be furnished also for matches, tobacco, etc.
The men should be limited to one duffel-bag each. These bags should be numbered consecutively. In fact, every piece in the entire equipment should be thus numbered and a list kept in detail in a book.
The explorer should personally see that each of his men has a hammock, net, and poncho; for the native, if left unsupervised, will go into the field with only the clothing he has on.
FOOD.—Though South America is rich in food and food possibilities, she has not solved the problem of living economically on her frontiers. The prices asked for food in the rubber districts we passed through were amazing. Five milreis (one dollar and fifty cents) was cheap for a chicken, and eggs at five hundred reis (fifteen cents) apiece were a rarity. Sugar was bought at the rate of one to two milreis a Kilo—in a country where sugar-cane grows luxuriantly. The main dependence is the mandioc, or farina, as it is called. It is the bread of the country and is served at every meal. The native puts it on his meat and in his soup and mixes it with his rice and beans. When he has nothing else he eats the farina, as it is called, by the handful. It is seldom cooked. The small mandioc tubers when boiled are very good and are used instead of potatoes. Native beans are nutritious and form one of the chief foods.
In the field the native cook wastes much time. Generally provided with an inadequate cooking equipment, hours are spent cooking beans after the day’s work, and then, of course, they are often only partially cooked. A kettle or aluminum Dutch oven should be taken along, large enough to cook enough beans for both breakfast and dinner. The beans should be cooked all night, a fire kept burning for the purpose. It would only be necessary then to warm the beans for breakfast and dinner, the two South American meals.
For meat the rubber hunter and explorer depends upon his rifle and fish-hook. The rivers are full of fish which can readily be caught, and, in Brazil, the tapir, capybara, paca, agouti, two or three varieties of deer, and two varieties of wild pig can occasionally be shot; and most of the monkeys are used for food. Turtles and turtle eggs can be had in season and a great variety of birds, some of them delicious in flavor and heavy in meat. In the hot, moist climate fresh meat will not keep and even salted meat has been known to spoil. For use on the Roosevelt expedition I arranged a ration for five men for one day packed in a tin box; the party which went down the Dúvida made each ration do for six men for a day and a half, and in addition gave over half the bread or hardtack to the camaradas. By placing the day’s allowance of bread in this same box, it was lightened sufficiently to float if dropped into water. There were seven variations in the arrangement of food in these boxes and they were numbered from 1 to 7, so that a different box could be used every day of the week. In addition to the food, each box contained a cake of soap, a piece of cheese-cloth, two boxes of matches, and a box of table salt. These tin boxes were lacquered to protect from rust and enclosed in wooden cases for transportation. A number in large type was printed on each. No. 1 was cased separately; Nos. 2 and 3, 4 and 5, 6 and 7 were cased together. For canoe travel the idea was to take these wooden cases off. I did not have an opportunity personally to experience the management of these food cases. We had sent them all ahead by pack-train for the explorers of the Dúvida River. The exploration of the Papagaio was decided upon during the march over the plateau of Matto Grosso and was accomplished with dependence upon native food only.
DAILY RATION FOR FIVE MEN SUN. MON. TUES. WED. THUR. FRI. SAT. Rice 16
13 Bread 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 Tea-biscuits 18
21 21 Dehydrated potatoes 11 11 11 11 11 11
Dehydrated onions 5 5 5 5 5 5
Evaporated soups 6
6 Baked beans
25 Condensed milk 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 Bacon 44 44 44 44 44 44 44 Roast beef
56 Corned beef
Curry and chicken
Boned chicken 61
Fruits: evaporated berries
5 Figs 20
Sugar 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 Coffee 10½ 10½ 10½ 10½ 10½ 10½ 10½ Tea 5½ 5½ 5½ 5½ 5½ 5½ 5½ Salt 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Sweet chocolate
EACH BOX ALSO CONTAINED Muslin, one yard. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Matches, boxes 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Soap, one cake 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Above weights of food are net in avoirdupois ounces. Each complete ration with its tin container weighed nearly twenty-seven pounds. The five pounds over net weight of daily ration was taken up in tin necessary for protection of food. The weight of component parts of daily ration had to be governed to some extent by the size of the commercial package in which the food could be purchased on short notice. Austin, Nichols & Co., of New York, who supplied the food stores for my polar expedition, worked day and night to complete the packing of the rations on time.
The food cases described above were used on Colonel Roosevelt’s descent of the Rio da Dúvida and also by the party who journeyed down the Gy-Paraná and Madeira Rivers. Leo Miller, the naturalist, who was a member of the last-named party, arrived in Manaos, Brazil, while I was there and, in answer to my question, told me that the food served admirably and was good, but that the native cooks had a habit of opening a number of cases at a time to satisfy their personal desire for special delicacies. Bacon was the article most sought for. Speaking critically, for a strenuous piece of work like the exploration of the Dúvida, the food was somewhat bulky. A ration arrangement such as I used on my sledge trips North would have contained more nutritious elements in a smaller space. We could have done without many of the luxuries. But the exploration of the Dúvida had not been contemplated and had no place in the itinerary mapped out in New York. The change of plan and the decision to explore the Dúvida River came about in Rio Janeiro, long after our rations had been made out and shipped.
“Matté” the tea of Brazil and Paraguay, used in most of the states of South America, should not be forgotten. It is a valuable beverage. With it a native can do a wonderful amount of work on little food. Upon the tired traveller it has a very refreshing effect.
Doctor Peckolt, celebrated chemist of Rio de Janeiro, has compared the analysis of matté with those of green tea, black tea, and coffee and obtained the following result:
IN 1,000 PARTS OF GREEN TEA BLACK TEA COFFEE MATTÉ
Natural oil 7.90 0.06 0.41 0.01
Chlorophyl 22.20 18.14 13.66 62.00
Resin 22.20 34.40 13.66 20.69
Tannin 178.09 128.80 16.39 12.28
Coffeina 4.50 4.30 2.66 2.50
Extractive substances 464.00 390.00 270.67 238.83
Cellulose and fibres 175.80 283.20 178.83 180.00
Ashes 85.60 25.61 25.61 38.11
Manner of preparation: The matté tea is prepared in the same manner as the Indian tea, that is to say, by pouring upon it boiling water during ten to fifteen minutes before using. To obtain a good infusion five spoonfuls of matté are sufficient for a litre of water.
Some experiments have been made lately with the use of matté in the German army, and probably it would be a valuable beverage for the use of our own troops. Two plates and a cup, knife, fork, and spoon should be provided for each member of the party. The United States Army mess-kit would serve admirably. Each man’s mess-kit should be numbered to correspond with the number on his duffel-bag.
An aluminum (for lightness) cooking outfit, or the Dutch oven mentioned, with three or four kettles nested within, a coffee pot or a teapot would suffice. The necessary large spoons and forks for the cook, a small meat grinder, and a half dozen skinning knives could all be included in the fibre case. These outfits are usually sold with the cups, plates, etc., for the table. As before suggested, each member of the party should have his own mess-kit. It should not be carried with the general cooking outfit. By separating the eating equipments thus, one of the problems of hygiene and cleanliness is simplified.
RIFLES.—AMMUNITION.—A heavy rifle is not advised. The only animals that can be classed as dangerous are the jaguar and white-jawed peccary, and a 30--30 or 44 calibre is heavy enough for such game. The 44-calibre Winchester or Remington carbine is the arm generally used throughout South America, and 44 calibre is the only ammunition that one can depend upon securing in the field. Every man has his own preference for an arm. However, there is no need of carrying a nine or ten pound weapon when a rifle weighing only from six and three fourths to seven and one half pounds will do all that is necessary. I, personally, prefer the small-calibre rifle, as it can be used for birds also. The three-barrelled gun, combining a double shotgun and a rifle, is an excellent weapon, and it is particularly valuable for the collector of natural-history specimens. A new gun has just come on the market which may prove valuable in South America where there is such a variety of game, a four-barrel gun, weighing only eight and one fourth pounds. It has two shotgun barrels, one 30 to 44 calibre rifle and the rib separating the shotgun barrels is bored for a 22-calibre rifle cartridge. The latter is particularly adapted for the large food birds, which a heavy riflebullet might tear. Twenty-two-calibre ammunition is also very light and the long 22 calibre exceedingly powerful. Unless in practice it proves too complicated, it would seem to be a good arm for all-round use—sixteen to twenty gauge is large enough for the shotgun barrels. Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the need of being provided with good weapons. After the loss of all our arms in the rapids we secured four poor, rusty rifles which proved of no value. We lost three deer, a tapir, and other game, and finally gave up the use of the rifles, depending upon hook and line. A 25 or 30 calibre highpower automatic pistol with six or seven inch barrel would prove a valuable arm to carry always on the person. It could be used for large game and yet would not be too large for food birds. It is to be regretted that there is nothing in the market of this character.
We had our rifle ammunition packed by the U. M. C. Co. in zinc cases of one hundred rounds each, a metallic strip with pull ring closing the two halves of the box. Shot-cartridge, sixteen gauge, were packed the same way, twenty-five to the box.
The explorer would do well always to have on his person a compass, a light waterproof bag containing matches, a waterproof box of salt, and a strong, light, linen or silk fish-line with several hooks, a knife, and an automatic at his belt, with several loaded magazines for the latter in his pocket. Thus provided, if accidentally lost for several days in the forest (which often happens to the rubber hunters in Brazil), he will be provided with the possibility of getting game and making himself shelter and fire at night.
FISH.—For small fish like the pacu and piranha an ordinary bass hook will do. For the latter, because of its sharp teeth, a hook with a long shank and phosphorbronze leader is the best; the same character of leader is best on the hook to be used for the big fish. A tarpon hook will hold most of the great fish of the rivers. A light rod and reel would be a convenience in catching the pacu. We used to fish for the latter variety in the quiet pools while allowing the canoe to drift, and always saved some of the fish as bait for the big fellows. We fished for the pacu as the native does, kneading a ball of mandioc farina with water and placing it on the hook as bait. I should not be surprised, though, if it were possible, with carefully chosen flies, to catch some of the fish that every once in a while we saw rise to the surface and drag some luckless insect under.
CLOTHING.—Even the experienced traveller when going into a new field will commit the crime of carrying too much luggage. Articles which he thought to be camp necessities become camp nuisances which worry his men and kill his mules. The lighter one can travel the better. In the matter of clothing, before the actual wilderness is reached the costume one would wear to business in New York in summer is practical for most of South America, except, of course, the high mountain regions, where a warm wrap is necessary. A white or natural linen suit is a very comfortable garment. A light blue unlined serge is desirable as a change and for wear in rainy weather.
Strange to relate, the South American seems to have a fondness for stiff collars. Even in Corumbá, the hottest place I have ever been in, the native does not think he is dressed unless he wears one of these stiff abominations around his throat. A light negligee shirt with interchangeable or attached soft collars is vastly preferable. In the frontier regions and along the rivers the pajama seems to be the conventional garment for day as well as night wear. Several such suits of light material should be carried—the more ornamented and beautifully colored the greater favor will they find along the way. A light cravenetted mackintosh is necessary for occasional cool evenings and as a protection against the rain. It should have no cemented rubber seams to open up in the warm, moist climate. Yachting oxfords and a light pair of leather slippers complete the outfit for steamer travel. For the field, two or three light woollen khaki-colored shirts, made with two or breast pockets with buttoned flaps, two pairs of long khaki trousers, two pairs of riding breeches, a khaki coat cut military fashion with four pockets with buttoned flaps, two suits of pajamas, hand kerchiefs, socks, etc., would be necessary. The poncho should extend to below the knees and should be provided with a hood large enough to cover the helmet. It should have no cemented seams; the material recently adopted by the United States Army for ponchos seems to be the best. For footgear the traveller needs two pairs of stout, high hunting shoes, built on the moccasin form with soles. Hobnails should be taken along to insert if the going is over rocky places. It is also advisable to provide a pair of very light leather slipper boots to reach to just under the knee for wear in camp. They protect the legs and ankles from insect stings and bites. The traveller who enters tropical South America should protect his head with a wide-brimmed soft felt hat with ventilated headband, or the best and lightest pith helmet that can be secured, one large enough to shade the face and back of neck. There should be a ventilating space all around the head-band; the wider the space the better. These helmets can be secured in Rio and Buenos Aires. Headnets with face plates of horsehair are the best protection against small insect pests. They are generally made too small and the purchaser should be careful to get one large enough to go over his helmet and come down to the breast. Several pairs of loose gloves rather long in the wrist will be needed as protection against the flies, piums and boroshudas which draw blood with every bite and are numerous in many parts of South America. A waterproof sun umbrella, with a jointed handle about six feet long terminating in a point, would be a decided help to the scientist at work in the field. A fine-meshed net fitting around the edge of the umbrella would make it insect proof. When folded it would not be bulky and its weight would be negligible. Such an umbrella could also be attached, with a special clamp, to the thwart of a canoe and so prove a protection from both sun and rain.
There are little personal conveniences which sometimes grow into necessities. One of these in my own case was a little electric flash-light taken for the purpose of reading the verniers of a theodolite or sextant in star observations. It was used every night and for many purposes. As a matter of necessity, where insects are numerous one turns to the protection of his hammock and net immediately after the evening meal. It was at such times that I found the electric lamp so helpful. Reclining in the hammock, I held the stock of the light under my left arm and with diary in my lap wrote up my records for the day. I sometimes read by its soft, steady light. One charge of battery, to my surprise, lasted nearly a month. When forced to pick out a camping spot after dark, an experience which comes to every traveller in the tropics in the rainy season, we found its light very helpful. Neither rain nor wind could put it out and the light could be directed wherever needed. The charges should be calculated on the plan of one for every three weeks. The acetylene lamp for camp illumination is an advance over the kerosene lantern. It has been found that for equal weight the carbide will give more light than kerosene or candle. The carbide should be put in small containers, for each time a box is opened some of the contents turns into gas from contact with the moist air.
TOOLS.—Three or four good axes, several bill-hooks, a good hatchet with hammer head and nail-puller should be in the tool kit. In addition, each man should be provided with a belt knife and a machete with sheath. Collins makes the best machetes. His axes, too, are excellent. The bill-hook, called foice in Brazil, is a most valuable tool for clearing away small trees, vines, and undergrowths. It is marvellous how quickly an experienced hand can clear the ground in a forest with one of these instruments. All of these tools should have handles of second-growth American hickory of first quality; and several extra handles should be taken along. The list of tools should be completed with a small outfit of pliers, tweezers, files, etc.—the character, of course, depending upon the mechanical ability of the traveller and the scientific instruments he has with him that might need repairs.
SURVEY INSTRUMENTS.—The choice of instruments will depend largely upon the character of the work intended. If a compass survey will suffice, there is nothing better than the cavalry sketching board used in the United States Army for reconnoissance. With a careful hand it approaches the high degree of perfection attained by the plane-table method. It is particularly adapted for river survey and, after one gets accustomed to its use, it is very simple. If the prismatic compass is preferred, nothing smaller than two and one half inches in diameter should be used. In the smaller sizes the magnet is not powerful enough to move the dial quickly or accurately.
Several good pocket compasses must be provided. They should all have good-sized needles with the north end well marked and degrees engraved in metal. If the floating dial is preferred it should be of aluminum and nothing smaller than two and one half inches, for the same reason as mentioned above regarding the prismatic compass.
Expense should not be spared if it is necessary to secure good compasses. Avoid paper dials and leather cases which absorb moisture. The campass case should allow taking apart for cleaning and drying.
The regular chronometer movement, because of its delicacy, is out of the question for rough land or water travel. We had with us a small-sized half-chronometer movement recently brought out by the Waltham Company as a yacht chronometer. It gave a surprisingly even rate under the most adverse conditions. I was sorry to lose it in the rapids of the Papagaio when our canoes went down.
The watches should be waterproof with strong cases, and several should be taken. It would be well to have a dozen cheap but good watches and the same number of compasses for use around camp and for gifts or trade along the line of travel. Money is of no value after one leaves the settlements. I was surprised to find that many of the rubber hunters were not provided with compasses, and I listened to an American who told of having been lost in the depths of the great forest where for days he lived on monkey meat secured with his rifle until he found his way to the river. He had no compass and could not get one. I was sorry I had none to give; I had lost mine in the rapids.
For the determination of latitude and longitude there is nothing better than a small four or five inch theodolite not over fifteen pounds in weight. It should have a good prism eyepiece with an angle tube attached so it would not be necessary to break one’s neck in reading high altitudes. For days we travelled in the direction the sun was going, with altitudes varying from 88 degrees to 90 degrees. Because of these high altitudes of the sun the sextant with artificial horizon could not be used unless one depended upon star observations altogether, an uncertain dependence because of the many cloudy nights.
BAROMETERS.—The Goldsmith form of direct-reading aneroid is the most accurate portable instrument and, of course, should be compared with a standard mercurial at the last weather-bureau station.
THERMOMETERS.—A swing thermometer, with wet and dry bulbs for determination of the amount of moisture in the air, and the maximum and minimum thermometer of the signal-service or weather-bureau type should be provided, with a case to protect them from injury.
A tape measure with metric scale of measurements on one side and feet and inches on the other is most important. Two small, light waterproof cases could be constructed and packed with scientific instruments, data, and spare clothing and yet not exceed the weight limit of flotation. In transit by pack-train these two cases would form but one mule load.
PHOTOGRAPHIC.—From the experience gained in several fields of exploration it seems to me that the voyager should limit himself to one small-sized camera, which he can always have with him, and then carry a duplicate of it, soldered in tin, in the baggage. The duplicate need not be equipped with as expensive a lens and shutter as the camera carried for work; 3¼ x 4¼ is a good size. Nothing larger than 3¼ x 5½ is advised. We carried the 3A special Kodak and found it a light, strong, and effective instrument. It seems to me that the ideal form of insturment would be one with a front board large enough to contain an adapter fitted for three lenses. For the 3¼ x 4¼:
One lens..................................4 or 4½ focus
One lens..................................6 or 7 focus
One lens telephoto or telecentric.........9 to 12 focus
The camera should be made of metal and fitted with focal-plane shutter and direct view-finder.
A sole-leather case with shoulder-strap should contain the camera and lenses, with an extra roll of films, all within instant reach, so that a lens could be changed without any loss of time.
Plates, of course, are the best, but their weight and frailty, with difficulty of handling, rule them out of the question. The roll film is the best, as the film pack sticks together and the stubs pull off in the moist, hot climate. The films should be purchased in rolls of six exposures, each roll in a tin, the cover sealed with surgical tape. Twelve of these tubes should be soldered in a tin box. In places where the air is charged with moisture a roll of films should not be left in a camera over twenty-four hours.
Tank development is best for the field. The tanks provided for developing by the Kodak Company are best for fixing also. A nest of tanks would be a convenience; one tank should be kept separate for the fixing-bath. As suggested in the Kodak circular, for tropical development a large-size tank can be used for holding the freezing mixture of hypo. This same tank would become the fixing tank after development. In the rainy season it is a difficult matter to dry films. Development in the field, with washing water at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, is a patience-trying operation. It has occurred to me that a small air-pump with a supply of chloride of calcium in small tubes might solve the problem of preserving films in the tropics. The air-pump and supply of chloride of calcium would not be as heavy or bulky as the tanks and powders needed for development. By means of the air-pump the films could be sealed in tin tubes free from moisture and kept thus until arrival at home or at a city where the air was fairly dry and cold water for washing could be had.
While I cordially agree with most of the views expressed by Mr. Fiala, there are some as to which I disagree; for instance, we came very strongly to the conclusion, in descending the Dúvida, where bulk was of great consequence, that the films should be in rolls of ten or twelve exposures. I doubt whether the four-barrel gun would be practical; but this is a matter of personal taste.