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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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shriek. This morning offered us a splendid spectacle: we enjoyed a sunrise similar to that of our Alps, but more beautiful, for the richness and charm of tropical nature.

From the highest points of the mountain, we descended to a deep and narrow valley, where we passed the small Congonhas River, which runs west to Paraopeba. Ahead of us then rose a much steeper mountain, Morro da Soledade, where the mules scrambled up a narrow, slippery path. At the top, a majestic panorama of the vast territory was revealed, cut by high and low hills, largely covered with thickets of woods, at one and the other; the Arraial de Congonhas do Campo (1) appeared deserted at our feet, surrounded by its red gold washes. The foundation of this massive hill was the same granular quartz-rich mica schist we have often mentioned before; above it is in great abundance very fine mica, approximate to the fossil talcum, white, bluish, yellowish, greenish, grayish or brownish, with black or yellowish veins, according to its iron content.

 

The farm, where we spend the night, is situated in the highest part of this mountainous region which, by its flattened ridge, is called Chapada.

Elevated plains, Minas Gerais

All the high plains or plateaus are designated in Brazil with this word, mainly in the southern provinces. Though rarely of considerable length, they differ so markedly from most of the more acute peaks or rock peaks of smaller mountain ranges that this designation has remained in common usage. In the general language, these plates are called itabeba, that is, flat mountain. A large part of the “termo" of Minas Novas and the province of Goias consists of such plateaus, which are furthermore characterized by special vegetation.

Fazenda da Chapada, Minas

The owner of Fazenda da Chapada, a few weeks earlier, had hosted our friend von Eschwege (2) when he returned from Rio de Janeiro to his home in Vila Rica, and became very kind and welcoming as soon as he learned that we were his compatriots. We experienced an important change in temperature that night that we spent in a closed room: the Reaumur thermometer indicated 11 °, while during the day the shade had risen to 20 ° and 21 °. This temperature usually dominates almost everywhere in the highest points of Minas Gerais, especially during the dry months.

(I) Drs. Spix and Martius passed by Congonhas do Campo without mentioning the ‘prophets’, the works of 212. The same thing is observed later in Vila Rica. (Rev. note, Ed. Melh.)
(2) See Frederico Sommer's biography "Guilherme Luis, Barao de Eschwege," - Improvements.

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