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Across Unknown South America by Landor

Where we encountered strong eddies most unpleasant


Eleven

kilometres and a half from the last rapids--having travelled north-west, south-west, east, and even due south, so winding was the course of the river--we came to a tributary stream 10 m. wide, on the left side of the Arinos. Eight kilometres farther we passed the inlet--then dry--of a small lagoon fed by the stream. The river banks, where eroded by the water, showed a lower layer of reddish-brown rock with a bright red ferruginous stratum above it. The top layer, 10 ft. thick, seemed formed of lime and alluvial deposits.

We emerged into a large basin 200 m. across, with a charming little island in the centre forming two channels with fairly strong rapids. We followed the channel on the right. At that point the river folded over itself into a great elbow. A cliff, 120 ft. high, towered on one side in brilliant red and yellow. The lower half of the strata was perfectly horizontal; the upper half at an angle of 45 deg. to the lower. The vivid colouring was intensified by contrast with a beautiful beach of immaculate white sand on the left side of the great elbow.

I observed a wonderful double lunar halo on the night of July 7-8, the outer circle in successive tints of most delicate yellow, orange, pale blue and white--the yellow being nearest the centre.

CHAPTER III

Dangerous Navigation--Eddies--Whirlpools--An

Extraordinary Creature--The Man X.--Pedro de Toledo Island--An Interesting Rodent

WE were rather proud of ourselves, as we had gone 69 kils. on July 7th, paddling away--barring the interval for lunch--from 7.15 in the morning until 7.30 at night.

The night was fairly cold--minimum 57 deg. Fahr.; the elevation 1,100 ft. Where I made camp at the elbow of the stream (on the left bank) there were innumerable rubber trees. A similar wealth of _Siphonia elastica_ appeared to be on the opposite bank, where the forest was luxuriant.

On July 8th we began our journey by going down rapids. Then after some 15,300 m. of fairly smooth navigation we crossed a basin 130 m. wide, where we encountered strong eddies--most unpleasant, as they swerved the canoe about in a way that was alarming. Lower down a swift _corrideira_ and more eddies gave us some trouble.

A beautiful _ariranha_ peeped out of the water close to the canoe, spitting angrily at us. It was attracted by the blood-red of the English flag, which it evidently wanted to bite. My men fired and wounded it; but so vicious were those little otters, and so great their craving for blood, that it still came on to within a foot or two of the canoe, when my men killed it.

The river was there compressed into a deep channel, 85 m. wide, with a strong current, after which it split into two arms--one north-west, 25 m. wide; the other north-east, 30 m. broad. The island thus formed between the two arms was 2,500 m. long. We called it Ariranha Island.


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