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

Page 60

and stilts, skimmers, and clouds of beautiful swaying terns in the foreground. About noon we passed the highest point which the old Spanish conquistadores and explorers, Irala and Ayolas, had reached in the course of their marvellous journeys in the first half of the sixteenth century—at a time when there was not a settlement in what is now the United States, and when hardly a single English sea captain had ventured so much as to cross the Atlantic.
  By the following day the country on the east bank had become a vast marshy plain dotted here and there by tree-clad patches of higher land. The morning was rainy; a contrast to the fine weather we had hitherto encountered. We passed wood-yards and cattle-ranches. At one of the latter the owner, an Argentine of Irish parentage, who still spoke English with the accent of the land of his parents’ nativity, remarked that this was the first time the American flag had been seen on the upper Paraguay; for our gunboat carried it at the masthead. Early in the afternoon, having reached the part where both banks of the river were Brazlian territory, we came to the old colonial Portuguese fort of Coimbra. It stands where two steep hills rise, one on either side of the river, and it guards the water-gorge between them. It was captured by the Paraguayans in the war of nearly half a century ago. Some modern guns have been mounted, and there is a garrison of Brazilian troops. The white fort is perched on the hillside, where it clings and rises, terrace above terrace, with bastion and parapet and crenellated wall. At the foot of the hill, on the riverine plain, stretches the old-time village with its roofs