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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The next day, the path was through mountainous terrain, with cliffs covered with bushes and ferns, or shadowed by closed woods, until we finally came down to a solitary valley and the Ouro Fino farms, arriving soon after at Crystals, the farm of Colonel Teixeira.

Octahedron crystals

Frequently crystals appeared along the road, in the open pits on the slopes, and the heaps of debris and clay, indicating the way gold washes are here. In the last farm we noticed, besides the quartz and the mica schist, also hornblende and

Crystalized quartz

gneiss. We stayed overnight in the house of another priest, to whom we brought letters. The young host, whom we meet in the company of many half-white women and children and whose library was limited to Ovid Ars amandi, seemed to us a worthy emulate of the Decameron hermit! The weather got brighter the next day, and we hurried on, passing some imposing farms on the hills, among which Ribeirao do Bacalhau meanders. Great Rhexias (Lent) adorn the hills with

Rhexia holoserica

their purple flowers; and at dusk we got off at Sant'Ana dos Ferros, commonly called Barra do Bacalhau.

Rio Doce

Here the Ribeirao do Bacalhau and soon after the Turvo River joins with the Piranga River, which runs to the northeast, and joins with Ribeirao do Carmo, taking together the name of Rio Doce.

Vila Rica to Minas Novas (see Rio Doce)

The village consists of a few inhabited houses, mostly black and mulatto. Even in this remote place, there are still traces of customs of the European civilization: the shop was supplied not only from some of the most needed items, bacon, sugar, cachaca, cornmeal, but also with primer books, lace, iron utensils and other articles. In the evening, the Portuguese captain of the place brought us, as a special proof of consideration, fresh bread of wheat, which he had cooked.

In the Piranga River such fine gold is washed that sometimes it forms a supernatural film, and therefore can only be separated by amalgamation. In this operation, according to the custom of the country, the amalgam is exposed in an open crucible, and the sublimated volatile mercury is collected in a banana leaf wrapped in carthusian.

The next day, near the shop of the Two Sisters, we passed a gravel pit, at the junction of the Turvo and Piranga Rivers, and rode through a mountainous region. Moist clouds and fog often enveloped us, as did the tops of the Purus bush, and reminded us of the autumn of our country. At nightfall we reached a high, beautiful valley and found warm clothing on a farm near Santa Rita Chapel. Much more painful travel was the following day; we had barely cut through the floodplain valley, when we were faced with the thickness

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