Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
but not inflicting serious damage. Hardworking, willing, and tough though the camaradas were, they naturally did not have the skill of northern lumberjacks.
We hoped to finish the two canoes in three days. A space was cleared in the forest for our tents. Among the taller trees grew hugeleafed pacovas, or wild bananas. We bathed and swam in the river, although in it we caught piranhas. Carregadores ants swarmed all around our camp. As many of the nearest of their holes as we could we stopped with fire; but at night some of them got into our tents and ate things we could ill spare. In the early morning a column of foraging ants appeared, and we drove them back, also with fire. When the sky was not overcast the sun was very hot, and we spread out everything to dry. There were many wonderful butterflies round about, but only a few birds. Yet in the early morning and late afternoon there was some attractive bird music in the woods. The two best performers were our old friend the false bellbird, with its series of ringing whistles, and a shy, attractive antthrush. The latter walked much on the ground, with dainty movements, courtesying and raising its tail; and in accent and sequence, although not in tone or time, its song resembled that of our whitethroated sparrow.
It was three weeks since we had started down the River of Doubt. We had come along its winding course about 140 kilometres, with a descent of somewhere in the neighborhood of 124 metres. It had been slow progress. We could not tell what physical obstacles were ahead of us, nor whether the Indians would be actively hostile. But a river normally describes in its course a parabola,