Correspondence from Brazil

November 24th, 1925

We would like to apologize for taking so long to respond, but we were anxious about any news from the colonel as well. We understand your concerns and we keep you in our thoughts. We would have updated you sooner, but until now we didn’t know any more than you did. Anyway, I’m happy to report now, the colonel is doing great. He has sent us a lengthy report dated May 20th, describing most of his findings; if his calculations are correct, he should be at his goal already. He said in his correspondence, “(…) I expect to be in touch with the old civilization within a month and to be at the main objective in August. Thereafter, our fate is in the lap of the gods!” This means all that’s left right now is to just wait for another word from him about his success. To make up for the wait, I’ve attached another correspondence from him dated a few days later, May 29th, addressed to you! Hope this will bring you peace.

Sincerely,
Council of the Royal Geographical Society

“My dear Nina,

The attempt to write is fraught with much difficulty, thanks to the legions of flies that pester one from dawn till dusk – and sometimes all through the night! The worst are the tiny ones that are smaller than a pinhead, almost invisible, but sting like a mosquito. Clouds of them are always present. Millions of bees add to the plague, and other bugs galore, stinging horrors that get all over ones hands. Even the head nets won’t keep them out, and as for mosquito nets, the pests fly through them! It is quite maddening.

We hope to get through this region in a few days, and are camped here for a while to arrange for the return of the peons, who are anxious to get back, having had enough of it – and I don’t blame them. We go on with eight animals – three saddle mules, four cargo mules, and a madrinha, a leading animal which keeps the others together. Jack is well and fit and getting stronger every day, even though he suffers a bit from insects.

I myself am bitten or stung by ticks, and these piums, as they call the tiny ones, all over the body. It is Raleigh I am anxious about. He still has one leg in a bandage but won’t go back. So far we have plenty of food and no need to walk, but I am not sure how long this will last. There may be little for the animals to eat as we head further in. I cannot hope to stand up on this journey better than Jack or Raleigh – my extra years tell, though I do my best to make up for it with enthusiasm – but I had to do this.

I calculate that I shall contact the Indians in about a week, perhaps ten days, when we should be able to reach the much talked-about waterfall.

Here we are at Dead Horse Camp, Lat. 110 43’ S and 540 35’ W, the spot where my horse died in 1920. Only his white bones remain. We can bathe ourselves here, but the insects make it a matter of great haste. Nevertheless, the season is good. It is very cold at night and fresh in the morning, but the insects and heat are out in full force come mid-day, and from then until evening it is sheer misery in camp.

You need have no fear of any failure ….”