Parthagica Directory 06
The descent was steep, and most trying for us among the great boulders over which we had to climb on our hands and feet. When we got to the bottom of this elevated country, the forest we found had quite a different aspect, which suggested to me the approach of the big river. We found there plenty of wild fruit, particularly some small black berries--called in Brazilian _pattaoa_--quite good to eat; also some most palatable tiny red cherries. We wasted a good deal of time picking up the fruit instead of marching, my men complaining all day long of an empty stomach. They would not take my advice to march quickly, so that we might then get plenty of food on the river. During the last few days, as I knew we must have been near the camp where I had left my men in charge of my baggage, we had constantly been firing sets of three shots--the agreed signal--in order to locate the exact spot where they were. But we had received no answer. Failing that, it was impossible to locate them exactly in the virgin forest, unless we had plenty of time and strength at our disposal.
I also had to employ at my own expense a pilot--no steamboat was allowed to go without one--whom I had to pay at the rate of L7 15_s._ sterling a day. A cook had to be employed for the crew, as none of the sailors could be induced to condescend to be the chef. Two applicants were eventually found. One who was willing to do the cooking at a salary of L3 10_s._ a day, his chief ability, said he, consisting in boiling rice and fish. Another fellow eventually undertook the job at a salary of L1 10_s._ a day, he being willing to do the cooking at such a small salary as he said he had never in his life cooked before, and he did not know whether we should care for his cooking or not. It must not for one moment be believed that these men were trying to cheat me, and putting on prices, for indeed these are the current rates for everybody who wishes to travel in those regions. The cost of commodities of any kind in Manaos was excessive, and went beyond even the limits of robbery. I went into a chemist's shop to purchase a small bottle of quinine tablets, worth in England perhaps eightpence or a shilling. The price charged there was L2 10_s._