Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
13th we broke camp, loaded ourselves and all our belongings on the launch and the house-boat, and started upstream for Tapirapoan. All told there were about thrity men, with five dogs and tents, bedding and provisions; fresh beef, growing rapidly less fresh; skinsall and everything jammed together.
It rained most of the first day and part of the first night. After that the weather was generally overcast and pleasant for travelling; but sometimes rain and torrid sunshine alternated. The cookingand it was good cookingwas done at a funny little open-air fireplace, with two or three cooking-pots placed at the stern of the house-boat.
The fireplace was a platform of earth, taken from anthills, and heaped and spread on the boards of the boat. Around it the dusky cook worked with philosophic solemnity in rain and shine. Our attendants, friendly souls with skins of every shade and hue, slept most of the time, curled up among boxes, bundles, and slabs of beef. An enormous land turtle was tethered toward the bow of the house-boat. When the men slept too near it, it made futile efforts to scramble over them; and in return now and then one of them gravely used it for a seat.
Slowly the throbbing engine drove the launch and its unwieldy side-partner against the swift current. The river had risen. We made about a mile and a half an hour. Ahead of us the brown water street stretched in curves between endless walls of dense tropical forest. It was like passing through a gigantic greenhouse. Wawasa and burity palms, cecropias, huge figs, feathery bamboos, strange yellow-stemmed trees, low trees with enormous