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There we had to settle for some baked potatoes and a wooden bench for the night. The sky was magnificently starry; dull light hung in the darkness of the woods; only the sound of water in the distance disturbed the stillness of that solitude, and, immersed in the contemplation of these splendors, we gave ourselves in a good mood to restful sleep.

Tijuca waterfall

Before daybreak we drove towards the sound of water, and arrived, just as the sun rose, on a high rock wall from which a crystalline stream crashed down, some of it lost in water spray in the depths of the water almost a hundred feet in the cave below. The spectacle of this scenario reminded us of the waterfalls of Naples and Tivoli, the charms of a similar nature, but much less majestic and lush. At the bottom of the valley and near the waterfall is a simple, hospitable little house, in which we were greeted by Mr. Taunay (1), a very respectable French painter who, withdrawn in solitude, lives there with his family in the heart of the Rio’s beautiful nature. We regretfully left the enchanting site and continued our excursion along the hillside border to the S.W.

Up the hills, overgrown with scrub, we reached a deep valley and finally the slope of Gavea, a lush granite rock that rises along the eastern shore of the Camorim Lagoon.


Gavea darkened the mirror of the lagoon with the sloping walls of its matured rocks. The tranquil setting of the waters is reminiscent of the lonely lakes of Switzerland and Salzburg. The Camorim, which is also called Jacarepagua, with inland salt water, connects to the south with the sea. The lagoon feeds several mountain streams, and, on the other hand, receives the sea water during high tide.

View from Gavea to Atlantic Ocean

In the swamps around the lagoon, where the thickness of the mangroves (2) supplants any other trees, the most sumptuous swamp plants and large fern bushes thrive. Among others, we find in the moist terrain of the lush rock groups, like the beautiful campanulas of gloxinia (G. speciosa), which was carried from here to Europe by English gardeners.

Only a few poor fishermen's huts find themselves in this solitude, whose variety and novelty of infinitely rich forms of nature the art of European gardening could highlight. With the abundance of sea fish, the inhabitants of this region are not even reminded of earning the necessary livelihood from cultivation.
(1) Nicolau Antonio Taunay, French painter, founder of the School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. He was born and died in Paris (1755-1830). And paternal grandfather of the famous Brazilian military and writer Viscount de Taunay. (Rev. cream, Ed. Melh.)
 (2) The mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.) that forms the mangrove swamps is a low tree that grows on almost all the shores of the ocean, especially in America, among the tropics, and is wonderful for the following particularity: its seeds germinate still stuck in the trunk, as well as laying down the roots extending to the ground, where they are buried; a single piece produces a dense forest. In the trunk and under the roots of the same is the crab (Cancer uca L.), which is suspected of sometimes eating poisonous herbs.