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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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it was necessary to ford or swim the overflowing streams that were ahead of our march. If, finally at night, we came across an open shed or ruined cottage, it was necessary, most of the night, to try to dry our soaked clothes, to remove the collections from the boxes, to air them again. Many times we could not get the desired rest because of the fire, for the wet wood gave more smoke than flames. Only a few miserable ranches, usually inhabited by mulattos, are found in these deserted lands, and apart from some milk and black beans, no more food could be counted on.

For the inhabitants of the region, however, this inclement weather, before the beginning of which sowing or planting has already begun, and during which they are deprived of exercise outside the home in hunting and traveling, seemed to give rise to enjoyment at home. The Brazilian has a cheerful disposition, ready to have fun. Almost everywhere we arrived at night, we were greeted with the tunes of the violas, whose accompaniment is singing or dancing. At Estiva, a solitary farmhouse with vast magnificent fields surrounded by secluded mountains, the locals were partying, dancing to the drum;

As soon as they became accustomed to the presence of foreign travelers, they invited us in and we witnessed the fun. The drumming is danced by a dancer and a ballerina, who, with snapping fingers and with unrestrained movements and unrestrained pantomimes, now approach, sometimes move away from each other. The main charm of this dance for Brazilians is in the artificial rotations and contortions of the hips, which they exaggerate almost as much as the East Indian fakirs. It lasts sometimes, to the monotonous chords of the viola, whole hours without interruption, or is interrupted only by improvised songs, and national modinhas, whose theme corresponds to its rudeness.

Sometimes also appear the dancers, dressed as women. Despite the obscene feature of this dance, it is widespread throughout Brazil and everywhere and is the favorite of the lower class of the people, who will not be deprived of it, despite the church's prohibition. It seems to originate from Ethiopia and introduced by black slaves in Brazil, like many other habitats, and created roots.

Under the unceasing rain and heavy fog the next day we could only walk four leagues on the impassable road, and found ourselves happy to bump into an abandoned ranch at the fall of night, which we took possession of, after eliminating the bats. Walking further was dangerous, as our guide advised, for the Mandu River, with the rain, was so full that it could only be passed in the daylight. The surroundings of our lodgings

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