Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 44

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

Page 44

swimming or wading where they are found. If cattle are driven into, or of their own accord enter, the water, they are commonly not molested; but if by chance some unusually big or ferocious specimen of these fearsome fishes does bite an animal—taking off part of an ear, or perhaps of a teat from the udder of a cow—the blood brings up every member of the ravenous throng which is anywhere near, and unless the attacked animal can immediately make its escape from the water it is devoured alive. Here on the Paraguay the natives hold them in much respect, whereas the caymans are not feared at all. The only redeeming feature about them is that they are themselves fairly good to eat, although with too many bones.
  At daybreak of the third day, finding we were still moored off Concepcion, we were rowed ashore and strolled off through the streets of the quaint, picturesque old town; a town which, like Asuncion, was founded by the conquistadores three-quarters of a century before our own English and Dutch forefathers landed in what is now the United States. The Jesuits then took practically complete possession of what is now Paraguay, controlling and Christianizing the Indians, and raising their flourishing missions to a pitch of prosperity they never elsewhere achieved. They were expelled by the civil authorities (backed by the other representatives of ecclesiastical authority) some fifty years before Spanish South America became independent. But they had already made the language of the Indians, Guaran&ygrave;, a culture-tongue, reducing it to writing, and printing religious books in it. Guaran&ygrave; is one of the most wide-spread of