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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Pernambuco, Ceara and Caracas. Almost everything we saw here from the kingdom of Flora was new to us, and our attention was always alert to these beautiful aspects of the fields, which stand out in sharp contrast to the massive grove, the rich jungle of the virgin forest, and on the contrary, they resemble the delicate shoots of the alpine meadows.

Taubate, which we reached at night, is situated on a flat hill three miles southeast of Pindamonhangaba.

From the top of the hill you can see a large part of the fields, where small groves and bushes are scattered. The Franciscan Convent, on the left of the road, surrounded by a few rows of majestic palm trees, produces a very pleasant impression, and promises to be important. Undoubtedly, Taubate, which has a main street with hovels on both sides and some side streets, is one of the most important villages in the whole province. It almost rivals the provincial capital in age. At the time when the lust for gold incited a large number of Paulistas to venture with flags to Minas and Goias, the inhabitants of Taubate were distinguished (1). Here, too, a royal foundation was established. The Taubateans thus set themselves in zealous rivalry and irreconcilable hostility with their Piratiningan neighbors, so that whenever, wherever both troops were found, they soon engaged in bloody fights. This enmity still seems to persist in secret, although the Taubateans have abandoned all the extraction of gold outside the province and are only farming and cattle-raising in their land, now poor in gold. The women weave, with aristida brava and other grasses of the neighborhood, mats that they have to sell in Rio.

We rested one day in Taubate to let our soaked luggage dry. The house, which a villager shared with us, was, by the way, hardly suitable for offering us a convenient roof. The houses are rarely of more than one floor, the walls are almost usually of weak beams or tied with ropes, barred and whitewashed with tabatinga, which is found here and there on the river bank; the roof consists of clay shingles or shingles made of carelessly laid straw, and the walls have one or two windows. The interior corresponds to temporary construction and poor material. The front door, usually half or fully locked, is the sign of the main part of the house which, without floors and whitewashed walls, looks more like a storeroom. This room serves as a living and visitor's room. The pantry, some adjoining room for guests, occupies the rest of the front of the house.

(I) One of those who first discovered gold in Minas Gerais (1693), Antonio Rodrigues, was from Taubate.

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