Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 221

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

Page 221

the rainy season, when the amount of baggage that can be taken is strictly limited, entails not only a good deal of work, but also the exercise of considerable ingenuity if the writing and photographing, and especially the preservation, of the specimens are to be done in satisfactory shape.
  At the telegraph office we received news that the voyage of Lauriadó and Fiala down the Papagaio had opened with a misadventure. In some bad rapids, not many miles below the falls, two of the canoes had been upset, half of their provisions and all of Fiala’s baggage lost, and Fiala himself nearly drowned. The Papagaio is known both at the source and the mouth; to descend it did not represent a plunge into the unknown, as in the case of the Dúvida or the Anan&ás; but the actual water work, over the part that was unexplored, offered the same posibilities of mischance and disaster. It is a hazardous thing to descend a swift, unknown river rushing through an uninhabited wilderness. To descend or ascend the ordinary great highway rivers of South America, such as the Amazon, Paraguay, Tapajos, and, in its lower course, the Orinoco, is now so safe and easy, whether by steam-boat or big, native cargo-boat, that people are apt to forget the very serious difficulties offered by the streams, often themselves great rivers, which run into or form the upper courses of these same water highways. Few things are easier than the former feat, and few more difficult than the latter; and experience in ordinary travelling on the lower courses of the rivers is of no benefit whatever in enabling a man to form a judgement as to what can be done, and how to do it, on the upper courses. Failure