THE CITY OF PARA
 WE have picked up a pilot, who is taking our ship into the island-studded delta of the
Amazon. The mouth through which we are passing is that of the big tributary known as the
River Tocantins or Path, and the town of Belem do Para is situated at a distance of 86
miles up this river.
The River Amazon is over 3,000 miles long; it receives the waters of more than a thousand
tributaries, and the total navigable length of main river and tributaries is about 30,000
On our right, as we penetrate the mouth of the Tocantins, are the shores of the large
island of Marajo; on our left stretch the shores of the mainland. Rubber-trees, sugar-cane
and cattle flourish on the island, and cattle-raising is a thriving industry in the
mainland corner we are turning. But for hour after hour we see nothing but a picturesque
panorama of low-lying bush, with here and there a primitive hut balanced on stilts amidst
the tropical wilds. Small wonder, therefore, that the sudden appearance of a big city in
the near distance calls forth from all newcomers to this part of the world an excited cry
You will soon be discovering that familiarity with Belem do Para—or Path, as it is
commonly called—means a series of surprises, that breed increasing
 admiration and a more and more keen desire to put off the day of leaving the city.
Ocean steamers can berth right alongside the docks at the river-port of Path. The first
feature of the harbour works to arrest attention is a long stretch of well-built
warehouses. These warehouses, which have such a businesslike appearance, are founded on
romance and packed with romance. They were called into existence by the rubber-trees of
the Amazon Valley. Vast fortunes, in the form of rubber from the Amazonian forests, have
been stored in yonder buildings, and from the quay we are nearing, millions of pounds'
worth of "black gold," as Amazonian rubber is locally called, have been shipped to the
world's markets. The whole of the present-day city of Para may be said to be "built of
rubber," for it is from the wealth represented by practically that one product alone that
a dirty, ramshackle, yellow-fever-stricken, and much-shunned town has been transformed
into a clean, healthy, picturesque, and progressive centre of civilization, with upwards
of t jo,000 inhabitants, including many European residents.
Path's courteous desire to welcome the stranger is so well known that the visit of a
newcomer is almost certain to be heralded by a letter from someone in some part of the
world asking someone in that city to be sure to meet the writer's friend, or friend of a
friend's friend, who will arrive by such or such a boat. Although I know from experience
the warmth of the
 welcome I shall soon be receiving as a returning visitor, I am also remembering the joy I
felt at the utterly unexpected greeting that was so cordially extended to me by
representatives of the cosmopolitan community when, as a stranger, I first came alongside
these docks; and in these delightful moments of spotting good friends among the crowd on
the quayside, I am nearly half inclined to envy those of you who are arriving as
strangers, and have yet to learn the meaning of hospitality in the Para sense of the word.
There are no organized holiday tours into the Amazonian forests, so we have to make Para
our head-quarters whilst kind friends see to all the necessary arrangements for taking us
into the interior among the rubber-gatherers.
Para and its everyday life afford us a wide choice of interesting and amusing pastimes.
The well-built city contains some remarkably beautiful parks and squares, imposing public
buildings, good clubs, and a residential quarter, where a wide avenue is bordered by fine
houses and gay gardens. The Botanical and Zoological Gardens, including the Goeldi Museum,
have an inexhaustible wealth of instructive and merry-making entertainment in their
unrivalled collections of Amazonian beasts, birds, butterflies, trees, flowers, and
numerous other animal, vegetable, and mineral wonders, and in their variety show of Indian
curios. The principal business street is, as would be expected, almost exclusively a
rubber-industry quarter. Here are situated the offices
 and warehouses of leading Brazilian and foreign exporters. One particularly interesting
street is on the very verge of dense forests; it is a memorable experience to stand with
one foot in an up-to-date city and the other in the wilds. Para is illuminated by electric
light, is well served by electric trams, and has an excellent water-supply. Among the most
popular evening resorts is a large cafe, with al fresco accommodation. Friends meet at
little round tables on the pavement to indulge, Parisian fashion, in coffee, long drinks
or ice-creams, and a gossip.
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