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Across Unknown South America by Landor

To my mind it is bound to supplant Manaos


[Illustration:

Campas Woman.]

[Illustration: Campas Man, Woman and Child.]

As we went farther up stream we passed alluvial banks of comparatively recent formation, in some places only one foot above the water and liable to constant inundation--in other places 10 or 12 ft. above the stream, and exposing an abrupt crumbling section of grey clay on a lower stratum with a narrow band of raw sienna colour. This yellow band rarely exceeded a thickness of 1 ft. We had an object-lesson here, where the banks were eroded by water and were gradually crumbling away, of the reason why the trees were so anaemic and generally died. The roots, instead of burrowing deep into the ground, spread out laterally in a horizontal position quite close to the surface of the ground. That night we had a beautiful effect of rain and smoke and the reflection from the fires, a wonderful study of reds and yellows and dark blues which would have fascinated the immortal painter Turner.

Farther on we passed an island 6 ft. above the water with beautiful green grass upon it, wonderful grazing land, and no trees whatever. On both sides of the channel we followed, in fact, we had fine open country all around, which seemed excellent for grazing purposes.

More interesting to me than the river itself were the wonderful effects of the ever-changing light in the sky. I saw no more the wonderful radiations

which had given me so much pleasure in Matto Grosso, but we beheld here a great haze of delicate tones up to a great height and a light blue sky above it. The clouds seemed to possess no well-defined form, but were more like masses of mist, the edges blending gradually with the blue of the sky. Only to the west was there an attempt at globular formation in the clouds. The clouds of heavy smoke which rose and rolled about over the landscape helped to render the otherwise monotonous scene a little more picturesque.

Farther up stream we reached on the right a long island almost absolutely free from trees, except at its western end, where a miserable growth of sickly trees covered its point. Beyond was a beautiful spit of red sand some 2,000 m. long.

On November 15th we reached Itaquatiara, where the banks of the river were much higher than usual on the right side. I was much struck by the sight of a lot of fallen timber lying about on the slopes of the high bank, and by that of innumerable logs of wood floating on the water, quite an unusual sight in Brazilian waters. Itaquatiara was placed geographically on a most convenient site, opposite the mouth of the great Madeira River. Now that the Madeira-Mamore railway is completed, bringing down the trade of Bolivia and of the Acre territory, there is no doubt that it will become a most important trading centre. To my mind it is bound to supplant Manaos, which is very inconveniently situated, not on the Amazon River itself but on the tributary Rio Negro.

All the rubber which goes down the Madeira River has so far been conveyed to Manaos by a great detour, involving much expense and time. In the future, I think, when Itaquatiara has developed into a big city, and proper arrangements are made for landing and storing cargoes, it is certain to become a most important centre of commerce. Land is already going up in value tremendously, although Manaos has waged war against the growth of a town at that spot, which will be inimical to her own interests.


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