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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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from his old gold washes, which he again exploited. This hill is one of the southernmost foothills of the Serra da Mantiqueira, which at this latitude is lost after extending over fifty leagues to the north. There are gold washes there, taken from a rusting gneiss conglomerate, in which the metal appears, sometimes in pellets, sometimes in small shales.

From Jacarei, a small village, the terrain is slowly rising. It features gracefully arranged hills alternating with narrow valleys. The hills are covered with tall, gray-green grass, among which are spread the thickets of Murtas, Melastomaceas, Rhexias, etc.; in the humid lowlands, on the contrary, low weeds grow.

In Cotia, a distant parish five leagues from Sao Paulo, we abandoned our troops and hurried to reach Ipanema as soon as possible. We would almost have to regret this rush, for we learned later that some of our men were intent on opening our bags and running away with the loot. This experience gave us a lesson: never to separate ourselves from our troops at these stops. The region, which we traveled, became ever more mountainous and more covered with forest; the road was indeed wide and with traces of the passing of the many herds of thousands of mules that come here from Rio Grande; however, we were suddenly off the road and we got lost in the thick of the grove. The silence of this forest, interrupted at times by the screeching notes of the araponga, makes a tetronic impression on the lost men, who fear that each step takes them further in the wrong direction. After we had been walking in the woods for a few hours at random, we finally came across a lovely man who, with the utmost readiness, led us back to the distant road.

Meeting priest of Sao Roque between Jacarei and Aldea da Escada

The priest of Sao Roque led us to his farm, the point of our destination, even at night. Dressed in São Paulo fashion with a large poncho, a wide-brimmed white felt hat, and a saber with a girdle, no one in another country would have taken him for a peaceful preacher of the gospel. Here in this country it is, however, necessary to travel in this way, because on the lonely path through the woods one may sometimes encounter some poisonous jaguar or snake or even some runaway slave.

In Sao Roque, an insignificant village, he soon took care of us, as the first authority of the place, lodging us in an old hut, provided us with a frugal meal, and finally showed us our cots.

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