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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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colonels of the Portuguese royal service in the Corps of Engineers, the first of which was then in Rio de Janeiro under license from its Vila Rica garrison. Both, from their years of residence in Brazil, very knowledgeable of the interior, were precious helpers with their kind advice. Thanks to the Minister of Austria, Barao von Neveu, who with the most active interest and purely scientific purpose, was able to help our company, we soon received a decree that allowed us to travel and explore freely the province of Rio de Janeiro, and we accepted, with the utmost commitment, any future engagement to be with the aid of the authorities. (Note I at the end of the chapter).

Anyone who arrives finds a part of the world, discovered for only three centuries, with an entirely rude, strong and unsuccessful nature, that could not be judged, at least here in the capital of Brazil, by outsiders; so much did Brazil influence the culture of old and educated Europe to remove from Brazil the features of American savagery, and to give it the imprint of the highest civilization. Language, customs, architecture and the influx of industry products from all over the world give Rio de Janeiro the European look. What, however, soon reminds the traveler that he finds himself in a strange part of the world, is above all the variegated mob of blacks and mulattos, the class upon which he stumbles everywhere as soon as he sets foot on the ground. This was more astonishing than pleasing to us. The inferior, brute nature of these insistent, half-naked men hurts the sensibility of the European, who has just left the delicate customs and the obsequious formulas of his country.

Rio de Janeiro, or more specifically Sao Sebastiao, generally known by its simple abbreviation of Rio, reclines on the bank of the extending bay, being three times larger than it actually looks from where the ships are moored. The northeastern part encompasses an irregular square on the western bank of the northern tip of the earth, which is linked in the south to the mainland. The eastern end of the land tongue is the Ponta do Calabouco; the northern end is bordered by Cobras Island, and the Salt Store. Between both ends is the oldest and most important part of the city along the bank, in the direction N.W. to S. E. and forming a rectangle. The terrain is largely flat; but at the north end rise five gentle elevations, so near the sea, that leave only space for a single street by the sea; In the direction S. and S.E. several hills dominate the city and the mountain of Corcovado, covered with woods. The oldest part of the city, to the northeast, is cut by eight straight, fairly narrow streets,

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Rio de Janeiro, old city