Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 126

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 126

greeted by McLean, the head of the ranch, and his assistant Ramsey, an old Texan friend. Among the other assistants, all equally cordial, were several Belgians and Frenchmen. The hands were Paraguayans and Brazilians, and a few Indians—a hard-bit set, each of whom always goes armed and knows how to use his arms, for there are constant collisions with cattle thieves from across the Bolivian border, and the ranch has to protect itself. These cowhands, vaqueiros, were of the type with which we were now familiar: dark-skinned, lean, hardfaced men, in slouch-hats, worn shirts and trousers, and fringed leather aprons, with heavy spurs on their bare feet. They are wonderful riders and ropers, and fear neither man nor beast. I noticed one Indian vaqueiro standing in exactly the attitude of a Shilluk of the White Nile, with the sole of one foot against the other leg, above the knee. This is a region with extraordinary possibilities of cattle-raising.
  At this ranch there was a tannery; a slaughter-house; a cannery; a church; buildings of various kinds and all degrees of comfort for the thirty or forty families who made the place their headquarters; and the handsome, white, two-story big house, standing among lemon-trees and flamboyants on the river-brink. There were all kinds of pets around the house. The most fascinating was a wee, spotted fawn which loved being petted. Half a dozen curassows of different species strolled through the rooms; there were also parrots of several different species, and immediately outside the house four or five herons, with unclipped wings, which would let us come within a few feet and then fly gracefully off, shortly