Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
IX. Down an Unknown River into the Equatorial Forest
THE mightiest river in the world is the Amazon. It runs from west to east, from the sunset to the sunrise, from the Andes to the Atlantic. The main stream flows almost along the equator, while the basin which contains its affluents extends many degrees north and south of the equator. The gigantic equatorial river basin is filled with an immense forest, the largest in the world, with which no other forest can be compared save those of western Africa and Malaysia. We were within the southern boundary of this great equatorial forest, on a river which was not merely unknown but unguessed at, no geographer having ever suspected its existence. This river flowed northward toward the equator, but whither it would go, whether it would turn one way or another, the length of its course, where it would come out, the character of the stream itself, and the character of the dwellers along its banksall these things were yet to be discovered.
One morning while the canoes were being built Kermit and I walked a few kilometres down the river and surveyed the next rapids below. The vast still forest was almost empty of life. We found old Indian signs.