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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Catetuva; thence it descends into a broad valley covered with bush, which is bordered to the east by the Parapixinga, a very high mountain, with scrub, and abrupt contours. In the vicinity of the poor village of Sao Joao de Atibaia, the region widens. We met here a student of the Rio de Janeiro Surgical School, who made the naive observation that this region did not deserve to have a doctor, because they rarely get sick here. This healthy region is undoubtedly inhabited by a race of strong men, and it is only the syphilis that is doing damage here, especially because it is imperfectly fought. To the north of Sao Joao de Atibaia run several almost parallel mountains, side by side. The quality of the stone is granitic, and the large diffusion of the arborescent fern (Pteris caudata), unfavorable to cultivation, explains the lack of active farmers.

The highest part of the mountain we climbed, Boa Vista, must be about two and a half thousand feet high. From there one can see the enchanting panorama over a neighboring valley, in the background of which is a solitary chapel.

Mooro do Lobo

Morro do Lobo, covered almost entirely with dark jungles, and at least three thousand feet high, dominates the whole mountain range. These were formerly infested with many American wolves (Lupus mexicanus);

It seems, however, that these beasts exist mostly in Minas Gerais, where we also found them for the first time. The road makes many zigzags across the mountain, whose paths get narrower and narrower the higher one goes up. The main formation is still granite, in which deposits of amphibole appear. Apart from some miserable ranches, inhabited by mamelucos and other mesticos, there is no trace of man in these lonely lands.

Araucaria, the Brazilian pine tree

The araucarias, which grow on the slopes of the mountains, harmonize with the melancholy feature of the landscape. Its tall, erect trunks extend the regularly spaced branches, at considerable height, and, lined with flat aculei, form a vast green canopy. Always separated, these majestic trees display dark green fronds with pyramidal tops, forming extensive colonnades, shelters where thousands of green parrots (Psittacus aestivus) live.

The Araucaria is the only tree of the Conifer's natural family, which we find throughout our trip; This family appears to be generally rarer in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere.

After two short days of travel from Atibaia, we arrived at the border of the Sao Paulo captaincy, in which a Customs Register is established, where travelers' passports are examined, the actual taxes on goods and slaves charged, and where guards exercise vigilance to prevent the smuggling of gold dust and gemstones.

Rural Customs Register

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