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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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height. Pieces of cacti, with long white hair or with formidable acules, form here and there impenetrable enclosures.

Cactus alatus

The weariness and dangers, hitherto overcome, had greatly shaken our health; we ourselves suffered from continuous diarrhea, which we thought should be attributed to salt water; the water burglar and one of his helpers were daily subjected to violent bouts of fever; the others complained of headaches and dizziness. Only one Frenchman we had hired in Bahia was spared from a close call, however, that very day he was to fall prey to a disaster of another kind. As he gathered the troops near the farm, a shot was fired from the undergrowth, which fortunately passed only beside him; However, we suspect that it was not unintentional. The locals seemed to grimly see our purpose of spending a few days here, and earlier they had, for futile reasons, begun to tease this comrade. Knowing the violent and vengeful temperament of the backcountry, who are accustomed to often ending arguments with their gunfire, we set out on the following day. In the places where the uniform, leafless groves had broken, we saw in front of us a long mountain, almost all covered with forest, part of the Serra de Itiuba.

This chain extends over considerable space and branches through the northwestern part of the province of Bahia, taking different denominations in the different regions. The watershed forms between the Sao Francisco River in the west and the small rivers, sometimes partly depleted or dry in the east, which flow southwards into the ocean before Sao Francisco; among them, the Itapicuru River is the most extensive.

Near the Arraial de Santo Antonio das Queimadas, three leagues from Rio do Peixe, we found this river; but because of the continuing drought, it was so depleted that only a series of wells and ditches were visible. All rivers on this stretch of land were low in water, and dry up with the continuing lack of rainfall; then only an irregular and stony bed indicates its presence and direction. Its springs appear between the crevices of the rock, and generally form shallow wells of clear water. However, during the rainy months, the valleys, along the backs of the mountains, fill with water, and this happens so quickly, due to the particular formation of the terrain, cut by numerous communicating streams, that after eight days the dry bed turns into a rushing river. The lack of moisture, the thickness, the solidity and the dominant horizontal situation of the rock favor the rapid creep that again acts on the soil conditions, and thus again in the periodicity of the river courses. Due to the fact that there is no moisture in the soil, and the lack of water, no decomposition of the leaves and other organic matter occurs;

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