Jaguars and Electric Eels (Penguin Great Journeys)
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A great, innovative and restless thinker, the young Humboldt (1769-1859) went on his epochal journey to the New World during a time of revolutionary ferment across Europe. This part of his matchless narrative of adventure and scientific research focuses on his time in Venezuela - in the Llanos and on the Orinoco River - riding and paddling, restlessly and happily noting the extraordinary things on every hand."Great Journeys" allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries - but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.
trunk is slenderer than the ordinary papaw, but its fruit is half the size and completely round, without projecting ribs. This fruit, which I have often eaten, is extremely sweet. The areas around the lake are unhealthy only in the dry season when the water-level falls and the mud bed is exposed to the sun’s heat. The bank, shaded by woods of Coccoloba barbadensis and decorated with beautiful lilies, reminds one, because of the similar aquatic plants found there, of the marshy banks of our
springs, worthy of special note. These springs gush out at three points from the coastal granitic chain at Onoto, Mariara and Las Trincheras. I was only able to carefully examine the physical and geological relations of the thermal waters of Mariara and Las Trincheras. All the springs contain small amounts of sulphuretted hydrogen gas. The stink of rotten eggs, typical of this gas, could only be smelled very close to the spring. In one of the puddles, which had a temperature of 56.2°C, bubbles
mosquitoes (nube de moscas) in the Raudales is a good defence.’ April 17th. After walking for three hours we reached our boat at about eleven in the morning. Father Zea packed provisions of clumps of bananas, cassava and chicken with our instruments. We found the river free of shoals, and after a few hours had passed the Garcita raudal whose rapids are easily crossed during high water. We were struck by a succession of great holes, more than 180 feet above the present water-level, that appeared
and a half days in the little village of Maypures near the Great Cataracts, we embarked in the canoe that the Carichana missionary had got for us. It had been damaged by the knocks it had received in the river, and by the Indians’ carelessness. Once you have passed the Great Cataracts you feel you are in a new world; that you have stepped over the barriers that nature seems to have raised between the civilized coasts and the wild, unknown interior. On the way to the landing-stage we caught a new
think of no more pleasant bathe than that in the Tuy. The crystal-clear water remains at 18.6°C. This is cool for the climate; the sources of the river are in the surrounding mountains. The owner’s house is situated on a hillock surrounded by huts for the negroes. Those who are married provide their own food. They are given, as everywhere in the Aragua valleys, a plot of land to cultivate, which they work on their Saturdays and Sundays, the free days of the week. They have chicken, and sometimes