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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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CHAPTER I
in the city of Vila Rica

 


Vila Rica, capital of the province of Minas Gerais, residence of the governor general and headquarters of the district of Ouro Preto, is built on two hills in the eastern base of the mountain of the same name.

The bank of the Ouro Preto stream, later called Carmo, forms the boundary of the high Itacolumi and the hill of Vila Rica.

The streets that go from part of the city of Ouro Preto, located in the valley, over part of the hills, are all with pavement; fourteen fountains supply them, and they are connected by four stone bridges, among them the new bridge built in the valley by Mr. von Eschwege; the main street runs half an hour along the base of the hill. The houses are built of stone, two-story, covered with tiles, mostly whitewashed, and are very beautiful in appearance, yet comfortable and proportionate to the high situation of the city. Among the public buildings, there are ten chapels, two showy parish churches, the Treasury, the Theater with street actors, the Latin School, the City Hall, and next the Prison, whose prisoners are usually thieves or murderers in romantic disputes;

Vila Rica prison

Govermor's palace, Vila Rica

The castle stands out, above all, as a residence of the governor, armed with some cannons, and which is located at the highest point of the hill, dominating a part of the city and the market, and unveiling the most beautiful panorama over the whole region. Although hidden in a narrow gorge and surrounded by arid mountains of stone, but surrounded by artistic gardens, in beauty comparable to the countryside, this was the place where, once upon a time, not only the Paulistas, but also the Portuguese, came to their aid in large numbers. Currently, the population of Minas Gerais is estimated in half a million souls, the city of Vla Rica at eight thousand five hundred. The latter counts among its inhabitants, relatively, many Portuguese, Europeans, and, above all, many mulattos and blacks; the armed force consists of two auxiliary cavalry regiments (militias), fourteen companies of white ordinances, seven of mulattos and four of freed blacks.

Military headquarters

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