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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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He was running slowly before me on the stone. I was just about to throw a pebble at him when he arched his back a little, spread his thighs, and spurted a jet of greenish liquid of foul odor upon me, so that for a moment I lost my senses and was unable to pursue him. That same smell, as nauseating as it was penetrating, was so imbedded in my clothes that it made them worthless. Our

Mephistis foetida

guide assured us that this skunk liquid (Mephitis foetida), when it gets into the eyes, can cause blindness. Although this animal is not uncommon in Brazil, we were not fortunate enough to get it for the collection, because dogs, once struck by their unique weapon, are afraid of chasing them, and the backlanders seek to deviate from its caca, after all nothing dangerous.

At night, before we reached the Sao Francisco River again, we passed under the crown of a Jua tree, the only one that conserves its foliage, in this dry region.

The juazeiro (Zizyphus Joazeiro, Mart.) with its rounded frond of dense foliage, dominates the landscape, within the provinces of Bahia, Pernambuco and Piaui, with its characteristic physiognomy, and is of great importance for cattle breeding in these regions because its berries, which ripen in the dry season, contain a mucilaginous substance, which is almost exclusively a replacement for pasture grass for oxen, so the year of little fruit would damage cattle. Beyond it, we saw, here and there, a tree, which is actually considered a wonder of the kingdom of Flora, the potbellied (Pourretia tuberculata, Mart.)

Etching 10 Pourretia tuberculata

from #10 A forest leafless because of the heat, which they call Caatinga, in the southern desert of the province of Bahia

From sixty to seventy feet high, and so-called for having in the middle of the trunk a diameter of fifteen feet, offering the unusual aspect of a bottle that surprises the traveler even more, because in these impoverished landscapes the eye rarely finds grandiose forms, and in the dry months the tree is leafless. The appearance of this gigantic tree is reminiscent of antediluvian monsters, as if it still is a remnant of ancient vegetation of enormous size. However, the interior of the trunk does not contain hardwood, but very soft core, which the sertanejos use instead of cork.

The village of Carinhanha, located on the northern side and not far from the confluence of the river of the same name with Sao Francisco, is the southernmost village of Pernambuco province, which surrounds the province of Bahia, to the west of the latter river.

This southern part of the province, between the river and the provinces of Piaui and Goias, because of its great distance from the capital, sooner or later is expected to separate as a province, and on the occasion of our stay it was assumed to be already separate by the district ombudsman, with the name of the main town - Pilao Arcada. Livestock and salt constitute the richness of this

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