Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
beside a dugout. Then we crossed with the dogs; our horses were saddled, and we started.
It was a picturesque cavalcade. The native hunters, of every shade from white to dark copper, all wore leather leggings that left the soles of their feet bare, and on their bare heels wore spurs with wheels four inches across. They went in single file, for no other mode of travel was possible; and the two or three leading men kept their machetes out, and had to cut every yard of our way while we were in the forest. The hunters rode little stallions, and their hounds were gelded.
Most of the time we were in forest or swampy jungle. Part of the time we crossed or skirted marshy plains. In one of them a herd of half-wild cattle was feeding. Herons, storks, ducks, and ibises were in these marshes, and we saw one flock of lovely roseate spoonbills.
In one grove the fig-trees were killing the palms, just as in Africa they kill the sandalwood-trees. In the gloom of this grove there were no flowers, no bushes; the air was heavy; the ground was brown with mouldering leaves. Almost every palm was serving as a prop for a fig-tree. The fig-trees were in every stage of growth. The youngest ones merely ran up the palms as vines. In the next stage the vine had thickened and was sending out shoots, wrapping the palm stem in a deadly hold. Some of the shoots were thrown round the stem like the tentacles of an immense cuttlefish. Others looked like claws, that were hooked into every crevice, and round every projection. In the stage beyond this the palm had been killed, and its dead carcass appeared between the big, winding vine-trunks; and later the palm had disappeared