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

Page 161

leaves, tall trees with foliage as delicate as lace, trees with buttressed trunks, trees with boles rising smooth and straight to lofty heights, all woven together by a tangle of vines, crowded down to the edge of the river. Their drooping branches hung down to the water, forming a screen through which it was impossible to see the bank, and exceedingly difficult to penetrate to the bank. Rarely one of them showed flowers—large white blossoms, or small red or yellow blossoms. More often the lilac flowers of the begonia-vine made large patches of color. Innumerable epiphytes covered the limbs, and even grew on the roughened trunks. We saw little bird life—a darter now and then, and kingfishers flitting from perch to perch. At long intervals we passed a ranch. At one the large, red-tiled, whitewashed house stood on a grassy slope behind mango-trees. The wooden shutters were thrown back from the unglazed windows, and the big rooms were utterly bare—not a book, not an ornament. A palm, loaded with scores of the pendulous nests of the troupials, stood near the door. Behind were orange-trees and coffee-plants, and near by fields of bananas, rice, and tobacco. The sallow foreman was courteous and hospitable. His dark-skinned women-folk kept in the furtive background. Like most of the ranches, it was owned by a company with headquarters at Cáceres.
  The trip was pleasant and interesting, although there was not much to do on the boat. It was too crowded to move around save with a definite purpose. We enjoyed the scenery; we talked—in English, Portugese, bad French, and broken German. Some of us wrote. Fiala made sketches of improved tents, hammocks, and other