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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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From Sorocaba we followed the arduous road to the northwest, over mountainous terrain, alternating with trees, to the village of Itu, six leagues distant. The mountain of Aracoiaba dominates the region, in which appears in many places a gneiss identical to that of Ipanema. Apart from two villages with hovels, in a beautiful plain of open and flowery fields, here there is almost no trace of civilization, because the forests, where the plantations of the inhabitants are located, are far from the road, located in the lowlands and valleys. We were assured that in these forests there is the tree that gives the Peruvian balsam (Myroxydum peruiferum L.), which is called Capriuna or Casca-de-Itu.

Casca de Itu

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see it. The village of Itu, head of the county of the same name and seat of an ombudsman, whom we had already been introduced to in Ipanema, is located near a beautiful mountainous region, and has several rows of small houses, regularly built. Some streets are paved with large-sized slabs of compact, bluish-gray limestone that must have been pulled from the vicinity.

Limestone

From Itu to the northwest we followed beautiful thick forests, and enjoyed the pleasant view of the Tiete Valley, already cleared of the bush and planted with beans, sugar cane, corn, etc. Here also the vine thrives, as in Sorocaba.

Tiete river valley

A quarter of an hour from Itu, we crossed a wooden bridge over Tiete, which not far downstream forms its first major waterfall. From then on, the path goes up

Etching # 35 Wooden bridge in Sao Paulo province

the mountain, which here also consists of a coarse-grained granite with red feldspar, quartz and little mica. Large blocks of rock, loose and rounded by the action of water, lie scattered on the path and in the woods. The higher we climbed, the sadder and uglier the region became; at an altitude of 1,800 feet above the sea, we again encountered the large enclosed clumps of bamboo (taquara), which occupy, in this area of wooded granitic mountains, the terrain

Bamboo

between the virgin forest and the fields, and are characteristic of the region. The vegetation, above all, is similar here to the highest points of the Serra do Mar, to which the mountain range extends, as a branch of the Serra da Mantiqueira.

We were in the most harsh and lonely part of the mountain when thunderstorms broke out, and the wind blew with such violence as in the most terrible storms. Soaked and exhausted, we reached, at the entrance of the night, some poor ranches, called Jacare, in the middle of the wild plain, covered with bushes. The solitude and savagery of the village still seemed to exacerbate the fatigue of the trip. The next morning, it was found that several mules, although trapped in

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