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He left the next day, to my great relief, in a small trading canoe that touched at the place on its way to Santarem. The Indian Manoel took his leave at the same time, having engaged to accompany me only as far as Aveyros; I was then dependent on Captain Antonio for fresh hands.
Preparations for Voyage-First Day's Sail Loss of Boat Altar de Chao Modes of Obtaining Fish Difficulties with Crew Arrival at Aveyros Excursions in the Neighbourhood White Cebus, and Habits and Dispositions of Cebi Monkeys Tame Parrot Missionary Settlement Entering the River Cupari Adventure with Anaconda Smoke-dried Monkey Boa-constrictor Village of Mundurucu Indians, and Incursion of a Wild Tribe Falls of the Cupari Hyacinthine Macaw Re-emerge into the broad Tapajos Descent of River to Santarem
Little happened worth narrating during my forty days' stay at Aveyros. The time was spent in the quiet, regular pursuit of Natural History: every morning I had my long ramble in the forest, which extended to the back-doors of the houses, and the afternoons were occupied in preserving and studying the objects collected.
There appeared to be no doubt that gold is occasionally found within two or three days' journey of Aveyros; but all lengthened search is made impossible by the scarcity of food and the impatience of the Indians, who see no value in the precious metal, and abhor the tediousness of the gold-searcher's occupation. It is impossible to do without them, as they are required to paddle the canoes.
The Tapajos is nearly free from the insect pests of other parts, mosquitoes, sand-flies, Motucas and piums; but the formiga de fogo is perhaps a greater plague than all the others put together. It is found only on sandy soils in open places, and seems to thrive most in the neighbourhood of houses and weedy villages, such as Aveyros; it does not occur at all in the shades of the forest.
I was quite surprised at the quantity of fish they had taken there being sufficient for the whole party which included several children, two old men from a neighbouring hut, and my Indians. I made our good-natured entertainers a small present of needles and sewing- cotton, articles very much prized, and soon after we reembarked, and again crossed the river to Aveyros.
At length, on rounding a low point, higher land again appeared on the right bank of the river, and the village of Aveyros hove in sight, in the port of which we cast anchor late in the afternoon.
August 2nd Left Aveyros, having resolved to ascend a branch river, the Cupari, which enters the Tapajos about eight miles above this village, instead of going forward along the main stream. I should have liked to visit the settlements of the Mundurucu tribe which lie beyond the first cataract of the Tapajos, if it had been compatible with the other objects I had in view.
The Cupari was described to me as flowing through a rich, moist clayey valley covered with forests and abounding in game; while the banks of the Tapajos beyond Aveyros were barren sandy campos, with ranges of naked or scantily-wooded hills, forming a kind of country which I had always found very unproductive in Natural History objects in the dry season, which had now set in.
We knew nothing of the antecedents of this man, who was a tall, strong, self-willed fellow, and it began to dawn on us that this was not a very safe travelling companion in a wild country like this. I thought it better now to make the best of our way to the next settlement, Aveyros, and get rid of him.