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Our canoe ...

Our canoe was not ready until nearly three in the afternoon. During our trip up the Casiquiare countless ants had nested in its toldo and hulk where we would have to lie for another twenty-two days, and it was difficult to clear them out. We spent the morning trying again to find out from those who lived in Esmeralda whether they knew about a lake towards the east. When shown maps the old soldiers laughed at the idea of a supposed link between the Orinoco and Iapa, as much as they laughed at the idea of its being linked to the 'white sea'. What we politely call geographers' fictions they call mentiras de por alla ('Lies from over there, the Old World'). These good men could not understand how people could draw maps of unseen countries and know precise things without ever having visited the country, things that even those who do live there have never heard about.

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