National Geographic : 2012 Apr
• Morocco who had been ordered by Lisbon to resettle in Amapá, where their presence was supposed to thwart potential incursions by colonists in French Guiana to the north. To ease the transition, the colonists were award- ed several hundred slaves. e new town was designed as a European-style city with grace- ful squares and gridded streets. Quickly the colonists made the unhappy discovery that Mazagão Velho was incredibly humid. Within a decade of arrival, the colonists---malarial, living in wretched shacks they were too poor to repair---begged the crown to relocate them. Ultimately, almost all the colonists slipped away. rough no act of their own, their slaves found themselves alone. ey were free as long as they pretended they weren't. e Portuguese wanted to be able to re- port to the King that a settlement was guarding Brazil's northern ank, and Mazagão Velho lled the bill. As the years went by, the descendants of the colony's Africans spread out into the coun- tryside. Living along the rivers like the region's indigenous peoples, the masterless slaves sur- vived the same way their Indian neighbors did: e river supplied sh and shrimp, small-scale gardens yielded manioc, trees provided every- thing else. Two centuries of constant planting, tending, and harvesting structured the forest. Mixing together native and African techniques, they created landscapes lush enough to be mis- taken for untouched wilderness. Costa Cabral is a strong, watchful woman of 62, born in a poor quilombo called Ipanema. Maria Tereza Costa removes the husks from rice in typical West African manner---with mortar and pestle---before preparing food for her family in Samucangaua, a quilombo in the state of Maranhão.