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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Here we also find plants that belong to the Chapadas of Minas and the whole

Chapadas, elevated plains

vegetation seems to indicate that in this basin of Parana there is a special flora. Among the most wonderful trees we find here are paru (Dipterix odorata, Willd.), whose seeds are known by the name of Tonca bean, and whose aroma and substance resemble the benzoic acid of vanilla. In Para province, where this tree is abundant and its fruits are constantly harvested, it is called cumaru. At the commander's house, a spectacle awaited us that we had never before witnessed.

We found no living soul, neither in the courtyard nor in the spacious dwelling, and already surprised we wanted to retire, when an anguished scream echoed in a distant hut (1). There we found the whole family and the numerous black servants, weeping around a body, which was sewn into a cotton sheet like the mummies of Egypt.

Black's funeral procession

They explained to us that the death of a black slave was the reason for this dismal solemnity, for Africans do not allow themselves to render their last duties to the dead according to patriarchal customs. Mourning is made by blacks with such sentiment and conviction that farmers find it unwise to deny consent. These practices, called black swarming, are celebrated in Guinea with closed doors and often degenerate into the most licentious aberrations, which is why Mr. Fleet only with his presence thought he could count them.

We were received here with all the demonstrations of the most cordial and ingenious hospitality, which should be considered an important trait of the character of the Goianos; however, we only stayed there for a day and soon returned to Contagem de Santa Maria, the Rio Formoso Farm, where we found, of course, our troops rested

for new marches, but our most faithful troop leader was in such a grave state, that afterwards we congratulated him on taking us to the Sao Francisco River, where we left him for medical care when we moved on to the Bahia captaincy. For this man's disease, to which miners are subjected more than other Brazilians, as in Europe are the inhabitants of the mountains subjected, there was a great deal of sadness in the country.

The journey of this farm, back to the Sao Francisco River, to Carinhanha, which we did in six days, constitutes in our trip, a short period, which really happened without major events, but all the more full of pure charm, in the face of the nature, this was the first time we found ourselves

(1) The blacks’ huts, made of clay and slats and covered with sape and with young palm fronds, do not differ from the system by which they are built in Africa. In Brazil, they are usually called senzalas or palhoras.

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