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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Other than this adventure, we were able, in the solitude of the trip, to turn our full attention to collecting many rare plants and hunting tapirs, anteaters, and macaws.

The dried heaths are spread over two hills, a continuation of the Serra das Araras, and, next to them, there are magnificent virgin meadows in which the trunks of the noble buriti palm are scattered. Particularly in the lower parts of this land, where the springs are abundant, this palm tree is presented in clear woods, spreading sometimes as far as one can see. It travels this way, sometimes along these coconut trees, where nature proves to be the creator of the noblest forms, sometimes cutting through the floodplains and proceeding up the hills, covered with treetops, scattered, low, with twisted branches. Many diverse

Acacia fasciculata

grasses, Acacias with delicate pinnate leaves, Murtas, Cassias with the

Cassia aculeata

wonderful shape of their foliage, and luscious olives are as abundant here as the most varied plumage of birds and the most diverse species of ants that build their artistic houses. from clay and earth, like towers six to eight feet high, or from the

branches of the trees they hang their black hives.

The marshy fields send their waters to the Carinhanha River, which springs west of Mato Grande, on the slope that leads to the waters west of Tocantins, east of

the Sao Francisco River, and, according to local people, presents clay for stoneware. Here and there, we can see in the fields lagoons, of considerable length, as, for example, the Seven Ponds, which we passed. The water is drinkable, but in fact it seems to produce unbearable itching in the body. It is not clear whether this property is due to soil salt and plant matter, or whether the alligator and boa excrement is excreted; I am almost inclined to accept this last warning of the sertanejos, for it is known that alligators not only give off a penetrating musky smell from the abdomen that comes out of the gland near the anus, but also there is excrement and urine that snakes and alligators exhale. It is a special, nauseating smell, and contains a lot of uric acid and ammonia. To the west and northwest of these lagoons, where we made a small stop at the Arroio dos Patos together, in the greatest heat of the sun, this hypothesis became even more likely when we could see here the huge amount of amphibians, inhabitants of the lagoons and streams.

One of our mules had rushed to quench her thirst, running fast into the water;

Reaching the path, an alligator soon grabbed his muzzle, and it would probably be beaten in the unequal fight if the drivers did not come to him in time. We caught sight in the waters here and there, of more of these fearsome saurians, also seen in the shadow of the nearby coves.

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