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canal has a general width of one hundred yards, and a depth, at this season, of thirty feet. There are several country houses and cocoa plantations on its banks. It is called Igarapé Assu.
The Tapajos at Santarem, which is within one mile of the mouth, is about a mile and a half wide. Its waters are nearly as dark as those of the Negro; but, where stirred with the paddle, it has not the faint red color of that river, but seems clear white water. Large portions of the surface were covered with very minute green leaves and vegetable matter.
We presented our passports and letters to the Delegado, Senhor Miguel Pinto de Guimaraèns, and obtained lodgings in the hired house of a French Jew of Pará, who was engaged in peddling watches and jewelry in Santarem.
Santarem- Population–Trade--River TapajosCuiaba - Diamond region
Account of the Indians of the Tapajos.
Santarem, four hundred and sixty miles from the mouth of the Rio Negro, and six hundred and fifty miles from the sea, is the largest town of the province, after Pará. By official returns it numbers four thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven free, (eighty-seven being foreigners,) and one thousand five hundred and ninety-one slave inhabitants.
were two hundred and eighty-nine births, forty-two deaths, and thirty-two marriages, in the year 1849.
I would estimate the population of the town of Santarem at about two thousand souls. In the official returns, all the settlers on the cocoa plantations for miles round, and all the tapuios engaged in the navigation of the river, are reckoned in the estimate. This, I believe, is the case with all the towns; and thus the traveller is continually surprised to find population rated so high in places where he encounters but few people.
There is said to be a good deal of elephantiasis and leprosy among the poorer class of its inhabitants. I did not visit their residences, which are generally on the beach above the town, and therefore saw nothing of them; nor did I see much poverty or misery.
There are tokens of an increased civilization in a marble monument in the cemetery, and a billiard table. The houses are comfortably furnished, though I believe every one still sleeps in a hammock. The rides in the environs are agreeable, the views picturesque, and the horses good. A tolerably good and well-bitted horse may be had for seventy-five dollars; they graze in the streets and outskirts of the town, and are fed with Indian corn.
There is a church (one of the towers has lately tumbled down) and two or three primary schools. The gentlemen all wear gold watches, and take an immoderate quantity of snuff. I failed to get statistics of the present trade of Santarem; but an examination of the following tables furnished by Mr. Gouzennes, the intelligent and gentlemanly vice-consul of France, will show the increase in the exports of the place in the three years between 1843 and 1846.
These tables show the tonnage and cargoes of the vessels arriving
Mr. Gouzennes gave me the table for 1843, and to M. Castelnau the
Number of crews
I think, but have no means of forming an accurate judgment, that
CONNEXION OF THE AMAZON AND LA PLATA.
The decrease in the consumption of farinha is significant, and shows an increased consumption of flour from the United States.
I had from Capt. Hislop, an old Scotchman, resident of Santarem, and who had traded much with Cuiabá, in the province of Matto Grosso, the following notices of the river Tapajos, and its connexion with the Atlantic, by means of the rivers Paraguay and La Plata.
Hence to the port of Itaituba, the river is navigable for large vessels, against a strong current, for fifteen days. The distance is about two hundred miles. From Itaituba the river is navigable for boats of six or eight tons, propelled by paddling, poling, or warping. There are some fifteen or twenty caxoieras, or rapids, to pass, where the boat has to be unloaded and the cargoes carried round on the backs of the crew. At one or two the boat itself has to be hauled over the land.
The voyage to the head of navigation on the Rio Preto, a confluent of the Tapajos, occupies about two months. At this place mules are found to carry the cargo fifteen miles, to the village of Diamantino, situated on the high lands that divide the head-waters of the streams flowing south from those of the streams flowing north, which approach each other at this point very closely.
These high lands are rich in diamonds and minerals. I saw some in possession of Capt. Hislop. The gold dust is apparently equal in quality to that I had seen from California.
From Diamantino to Cuiabá the distance is ninety miles; the road crossing the Paraguay river, which there, at some seasons, is nearly dry and muddy, and at others a rapid and deep stream, dangerous for the
mules to pass.
Some years ago a shorter land-carriage was discovered between the head-waters of the northern and southern streams.
By ascending the Arinos, a river which empties into the Tapajos, below the mouth of the Preto, a point was reached within eighteen miles by land-carriage of a navigable point on the Cuiabá river above the city. The boat was hauled over these eighteen miles by oxen, (showing that the passage can be neither very high nor rugged,) and launched upon the Cuiabá, which is navigable thence to the city.
This was about three years ago; but the trade, for some reason, is still carried on by the old route of the Preto, and the land-carriage of one hundred and five miles to Cuiabá.
A person once attempted to descend by the San Manoel, a river that rises in the same high lands as the Preto and Arinos, and empties into the Tapajos, far below them; but he encountered so many obstructions to navigation that he lost all but life.
The passage from Diamantino to Santarem occupies about twenty
Cuiabá is a flourishing town of about ten thousand inhabitants, situated on the river of the same name, which is thence navigable for large vessels to its junction with the Paraguay, which river is free from impediments to the ocean. It is the chief town of the rich province of Matto Grosso. It receives its supplies—the lighter articles of merchandise and luxury-by land, from Rio Janeiro, and its heavier articlessuch as cannot be transported on mules for a great distance-by this route of the Tapajos. These are principally salt, iron, iron implements, wines, liquors, arms, crockeries, and guaraná, of which the people there are passionately fond.
St. Ubes or Portuguese salt is worth in Cuiabá thirteen and a half dollars the panero, of one hundred and eight pounds. Lately, however, salt has been discovered on the bottom and shores of a lake in Bolivia, near the Paraguay river. It undergoes some process to get rid of its impurities, and then is sold at four dollars the panero.
Cuiabá pays for these things in diamonds, gold dust, and hides. The diamond region is, as I have before said, in the neighborhood of the village of Diamantino, situated on the high lands that divide the head waters of the tributaries of the Amazon and La Plata. M. Castelnau visited this country, and I give the following extracts from his account of it. He
says: “The mines of gold, and especially those of diamonds, to which the city of Diamantino owes its foundation and its importance, appear to have been known from the time the Paulistas made their first settlements in the province of Matto Grosso; but, under the Portuguese government, the working of the diamond mines was prohibited to individuals under the severest penalties.
"A military force occupied the diamond districts, and watched the Crown slaves who labored in the search of this precious mineral. Every person finding one of these stones was obliged to remit it to the superintendency of diamonds at Cuyaba, for which he received a moderate recompense, whilst he would have been severely punished if detected in appropriating it.
“At this period, throughout Brazil, the commerce in diamonds was prohibited, as strictly as their extraction, to all except the special agents named by the government for this purpose.
“Subsequently to the government of João Carlos, of whom we have already spoken, this commerce became more or less tolerated, then alto