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Across Unknown South America by Landor

With a sudden drop of over 6 ft


On

leaving the rapids the river took a direction of 310 deg. b.m. There was a high hill to the east and another, equally high, to the west. The chain of hills seen from the north showed much erosion in the centre, where the rock was exposed underneath. On the south side the upper portion of the hill range consisted of a vertical rocky cliff in strata each 6 ft. thick.

Another cut, more unpleasant even than ours, had been made by the river in that same range to the north-east of that through which we had taken the canoe. An island of rock rose between those cuts.

A few hundred metres below the mouth of that ugly channel we found an extensive beach, on which we made our camp for the night. The minimum temperature during the night of August 2nd was 64 deg. F.

When we landed the men were proceeding to cut down the foliage on the edge of the forest, so as to be able to hang their hammocks, when they became greatly excited on discovering several nests of _maribondos_ (hornets), graceful cones of a parchment-like material enclosing a number of superposed discs from one to three inches in diameter and about a quarter of an inch apart. Each disc had a perforation in order to let the dwellers in those little homes pass from one chamber to another from the highest of the cone down to the lowest in the apex.

When we left at 7.30 in the morning and had gone

but 1,800 m., the river suddenly described a sharp angle and at that point went through a narrow neck. Afterwards it widened once more to an average breadth of 800 m., which it kept for a distance of 3 kil. in a straight line, the channel being there quite clear of rocks and the water beautifully smooth.

The river was indeed lovely in that part. I had a little more time there to look round at the scenery on either side of us. I noticed that rubber was still to be found, but in small quantities in that region. Rubber trees were only to be seen every now and then. Looking back to the south and south-west on the range of hills we had left behind, I could see that it extended far to the north-west. The highest part of it, however, seemed to be near the point where we had negotiated the dangerous rapid.

We had gone no more than 9,600 m., when we came to another bad rapid over a barrier of rock across the river from north-east to south-west. A tributary 10 m. wide at the mouth occurred on the right just before this rapid. Beautiful trees of great height, with yellow ball-like blooms, enlivened the scenery as we went along. We had little time to appreciate the beauty of the vegetation--we were too busy with the river. No sooner had we got through one rapid than we came to another alarming one, with a sudden drop of over 6 ft. and enormous volumes of water pouring over it.

This rapid described an arc of a circle, forming an awe-inspiring whirlpool below the actual fall. We had some trouble in finding a place where we could get the canoe through. Eventually, with water up to our necks, we let her gradually down the high step in the middle of the river, we standing with great difficulty on submerged rocks. We had then to make several journeys backwards and forwards to convey the various loads to the canoe after we had brought her to a place of safety, our baggage having been left on rocks in mid-stream. This was extremely risky work, for the current was powerful and the water reached in some places up to our necks. I was anxious for the men who could not swim, as I was afraid any moment they might be washed away, and not only should I lose them but also the valuable instruments, photographic plates, etc., which they were conveying across.


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