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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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In the sunshine we reached Campinho, a farm located three leagues from Rio, with a shop that has necessary staples for the traveling troops.These wineries are located on most of the road from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo and in most important places in Minas Gerais, and, since the grapes are planted on damp land or in virgin forest, far from the road, they often offer lodgings, the only inns that still remind travelers of Europe and European institutions. The road goes in the direction S. S. 0. downhill, here and there flooded by the sea in the high seas. Along the road there are small blooming palm trees and they scent the air with their aroma (1).

Ingazeiro palm

As a bed on the way, we used oxhides, which, during the day, were spread over the load of the mules, and now they stood on a porch, dimly lit by an oil lamp. The mules were loosed in the pasture after giving them maize by means of a head-hanging scupper and having given them a drink in the nearby pond. For the mules, they offer open or fenced fields across from the road to Sao Paulo.

So that the animals cannot escape and soon are gathered the next day, the traveler generally prefers the enclosed pastures, which are obtained for a small fee. In places where there are no fences, ropes are usually attached, tying their front legs. Our people gathered firewood and water there and prepared the frugal meal of beans with bacon and dried meat. The night was all starry; the sky, however, seemed darker than that of the European zone. The thermometer indicated14, 0 ° R. most of the night, a temperature that soon reminded us of the Spanish hostels, where the inns offer not soft beds but only cold stone. At daybreak, we retraced the trip down to the lowland; We did not, however, reach the royal farm of Santa Cruz, which is five and a half miles from Campinho, because our mule driver insisted on shortening the first days of travel in order to gradually get used to the weight. We stayed overnight at the shop in Santissimo,

whose old owner, of Italian origin, told us how he had come to Rio on a French ship, sent on a voyage of discovery to the Pacific Ocean, and then deserted and settled in this country. Thus we met, by chance, a fellow traveler from Bougainville’s expedition, who, in the long absence of Europe, had not only forgotten his mother tongue, but even European customs.

On the way here, we saw a patch of soil consisting of coarse, dry, granite sand. The low woods, however, very beautiful,

(I) In eastern India, coconut flower pollen is used as a tranquillizer.

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