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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The blacks, who perform these works, with an unbearably slow pace by European standards, drill the holes with long iron drills, always hitting the same point.

The only thing left to say about mountain formation in this country is that the land now rises little by little along the coast, and granite forms in the whole chain only smooth, rounded, uneven heights, where here and there huge conical mountains rise already at a considerable height above the sea, but, apparently, never exceed four thousand feet. They are, almost everywhere, of very strong stratification, rusty-red in color, which we could not examine more closely, and which, according to many residents, must contain gold. As royal ordinances prohibit the washing of gold within twenty miles from the sea to the land inland, it is therefore difficult to obtain reliable information on the proportion of gold in this region.

From Mandioca farm, we followed the road which leads to Minas Gerais, which is flanked by grotesque stalks of “cigarette holders” (Fourcoraea gigantea, Vent.)

Fourcorea gigantea

We passed a grove of varied flowers, through virgin forest, up steep hills, through tight gorges, reaching the summit of the mountain, where there is a good paved road, so far unique in Brazil, which goes for almost a mile. The possibility of using carts after this road ends, could be very risky because of the uneven terrain. In Brazil, very little care is taken to facilitate trade with carriage and cart roads, as is done in Germany with the construction of railways, as locomotion of goods on mules does what is sufficient for the needs of the inhabitants.

One mile road towards Minas Gerais

From the summit of the mountain, the so-called Serra da Estrella, with 3,376 French feet above the sea, you can see the Guanabara bay with its virgin islands and the capital in the background.

View from Serra da Estrella towards Rio de Janeiro

The opposite side offers a more limited view, very uneven hillside covered with closed woods, extending from here to the bank of the Paraiba River. The mountain road runs north, first to Corrego Seco, a poor settlement, elevated 2,260 French feet above the sea. Here we stayed overnight once, in a miserable shack, which gave us a full idea of the inconvenience to which we would have to subject ourselves, traveling inland. As a meal, we had manioc flour and sun-dried beef; as a lodging, a hard bench without a cushion or cover, which tested our patience and adaptibility. The night, if it were in Germany, would be one of the most beautiful of summer, because the thermometer never dropped beyond 14 ° R.; However, it was almost impossible for us to sleep because we were cold.

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