Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
and the vines had united into a great fig-tree. Water stood in black pools at the foot of the murdered trees, and of the trees that had murdered them. There was something sinister and evil in the dark stillness of the grove; it seemed as if sentient beings had writhed themselves round and were strangling other sentient beings.
We passed through wonderfully beautiful woods of tall palms, the ouaouaça palmwawasa palm, as it should be spelled in English. The trunks rose tall and strong and slender, and the fronds were branches twenty or thirty feet long, with the many long, narrow green blades starting from the midrib at right angles in pairs. Round the ponds stood stately burity palms, rising like huge columns, with great branches that looked like fans, as the long, stiff blades radiated from the end of the midrib. One tree was gorgeous with the brilliant hues of a flock of party-colored macaws. Green parrots flew shrieking overhead.
Now and then we were bitten and stung by the venomous fire-ants, and ticks crawled upon us. Once we were assailed by more serious foes, in the shape of a nest of maribundi wasps, not the biggest kind, but about the size of our hornets. We were at the time passing through dense jungle, under tall trees, in a spot where the down timber, holes, tangled creepers, and thorns made the going difficult. The leading men were not assailed, although they were now and then cutting the trail. Colonel Rondon and I were in the middle of the column, and the swarm attacked us; both of us were badly stung on the face, neck, and hands, the colonel even more severely than I was. He wheeled and rode to the rear and I to the