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Remember the Rainforest 1



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It is amazing that, although subjected to innumerable dangers and contingencies, they nevertheless arrived without exception at the place of destination, a happiness which travelers can rarely boast about. The trip at night has, in the tropics, a particularly pleasant freshness that revives the traveler after the exhausting heat of the day, a great blessing. The landscape also exposes new and surprising vistas that, due to the uncertainty of the contours, excite the European fantasy in a special way. Night travel alone is not convenient for carrier mules because they have the habit of sleeping preferably from midnight until morning.

In recent days, we had descended from the narrow mountain valleys, and now we see, from time to time, in the moonlight, right in front of us and beside us, the hills of a part of the Serra da Mantiqueira, coming from Minas, goes to the south, behind the Serra do Mar. Its bluish contours formed a magical background of scenery, alternating woods and uncovered places. The tall trees of the bush, among which we transited, were shrouded in black shadows, and often there resounded wonderful night sounds, never before perceived; everything combined to transport us to a rare as well as a unique state of mind. The conduct of the troops at night required double attention from the drivers, so that none of the carriers would hide or drop behind the mule train.

Our drivers, happy Paulistas, were constantly challenging each other with jokes and songs. They joked about the possibility of encounters with some poisonous snake on the way, until the oldest of them, with an important face, declared that this would be impossible, because he, with a daily prayer to Sao Tome (1), kept all these evil animals away. However, the encounter with venomous snakes, who go out in search of prey at night and prefer the clearest paths to the forest, is a great danger for those who travel at night, especially in these regions, where the small jararaca (Bothrops leucurus nob.) it is very common. A few days earlier we had found, in the hottest hours of the day, in a hollow tree, one of these evil snakes lying down; With luck, she can be caught and put into the spirit of wine.

Bothrops leucurus

In Melada, a village that had some poor country houses, we went in search of lodging for the night, because the man of the people in Brazil, only stays up until late night when there are diversions. In Silveira, two leagues from Tacasava, we finally found lodging

(I) The saint of the Catho1ic Church, in which our people believe as a special advocate against snakes, Sao Bento. (Rev. Nota, Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.)