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Rheixas and grasses, sharing the main branches of the Serra da Mantiqueira, which run from the southeast and northwest.

Serra Mantiqueira

Just before the last of these high mountains, Morro do Bonfim, we crossed the Rio das Mortes, whose dark waters meander through very wide, marshy valleys, and, thickened by tributaries, join twenty leagues west of Sao Joao d'El-Rei, with Rio Grande. It was in this valley that, in the old days, the Paulistas, struggling with the lust of gold with one another, engaged in bloody feuds, hence the name given to the river, Rio das Mortes, River of the Dead. Bonfim Hill is very steep, and therefore extremely difficult to climb with the mules; It consists of layers of itacolumite, and its wide, sloping flanks have quartz blocks scattered in quantity. From its summit, one enjoys a splendid panorama of the entire river valley, and as soon as it goes down the other end, it extends to the foot of the equally naked mountain of Lenheiro, in the village of Sao Joao d ' El-Rei, formerly called Vila do Rio das Mortes, whose river is half a league away.

Valleys of Tocatin and Rio Grande

Many mountains surround the small town of countless whitewashed houses, and the small, often almost dry, Rio Tijuco that cuts through the middle gives it an aspect of romantic beauty. Passing by numerous country houses scattered on the hillside, you will find the solid stone bridge, which is built over the small river mentioned above and connects the part of the small town built on the mountain with the larger one on the plain.

Sao Joao d'el Rei

The foreigner is delighted to find himself in a small commercial town, especially after the long privations of traveling inland. Cobbled streets, imposing churches, adorned with paintings by national artists, shops furnished with all luxury goods and European trade, many manufactures, etc., indicate the richness of the place which, by its transactions with the sertão (outback), is considered among the most lively in Brazil.

The village of Sao Joao d'El-Rei, so named by King D. Joao V, as well as Vila Rica, Principe, Sabara and, recently, Paracatu, one of the most important cities of the five counties of the captaincy of Minas Gerais. Indeed, Rio das Mortes county, is about fifty leagues in diameter. The village itself has a population of six thousand, of which only a third is white; It has an Ombudsman, a House of Gold Foundation, a school of Latin, a hospital, a house of correction, which houses mostly murderers, several chapels and four churches, among which stands a beautiful madonna. Although the nearby outskirts of the city, which are very hilly and bare of vegetation, seem sparsely populated, they are nonetheless found in the caves and deep valleys.