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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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we had to go through a new and sad experience regarding the difficulties of transportation in this country. A box in which the cylinder can had been tied with the barometer tubes was suddenly startled, fired into the nearby bush, and could only be caught after having dumped the entire load and ruined the instruments. This loss was very painful for us, because during the whole trip it can no longer be remedied, except in Sao Paulo, a place where fortunately we had already dispatched some barometers by sea. The physical sciences today have been disregarded in the main cities of Brazil; Barometers and other instruments, which exist here and there, are therefore considered by the few who devote themselves to meteorological observations as precious instruments.

At the top of the mountain, which we now had to climb, was the home of a Dutch farmer. While we sent for him in the woods, and our mules went on, we had occasion to collect a treasure trove of plants and the most beautiful insects, especially Ketonias. Mr. Dufles, as the farmer calls himself, is a successful planter of sugarcane and coffee, crops which, because of the humidity of the

Sugar cane

place and the sunny position of the mountain, are excellently favored. Happily, we lingered and then looked for our mules, who were in utter disarray on a deeply pitted clay ground. Most had broken free of their burdens or got bogged down in the bogs. It was necessary to clean up the mire without delay and to rescue the mules. After great efforts, we finally reached the top of the mountain, where the panorama along the Santa Cruz plain made us forget about our fatigue. With the most diverse emotions, we made here our last farewells to the sea coast and took the road inland.

The mountain is granite, very fine grain and red in color, which passes from time to time to gneiss, and is covered with thick woods. The steep road turns South to West and goes through several valleys of good water, but lonely and sad, for lack of farming, to arrive at a poor village in the middle of the mountain, which could provide the most charming residence for a naturalist, since its surroundings bear the fullness of the richest vegetation and the most diverse animals. Murtas, Rubiaceas, Citamineas and Orchids are the main features of these forests, which are, as well as the Serra da Estrela, at an altitude of two thousand five hundred to three thousand feet above sea level. Before we reached our destination, Santa Rosa Farm, we passed a

Orchid, Cattleya labiata

ll8