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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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from the caper bush (1), which, even during drought preserves its hard leaves; We sought to cure them by giving them large doses of salt and castor oil.

Ajuda coastline

It was under these critical conditions that we arrived at the Nossa Senhora da Ajuda Lagoon Farm, where we hoped to be rescued, because generosity is one of the greatest properties of the backlands; But there a large nucleus of a population of over one hundred and sixty slaves was in opposition to our desire. They claimed that they suffered from the same shortage of corn, and it was only at great cost that we could buy the necessary supply from the blacks, who cultivated their small farms, on their days of freedom. Owners of the large farms rarely reside in the backlands. They spend their incomes in more populous places, sometimes living with incredible luxury, and leave the administration to a mulatto, so that the traveler cannot always count on hospitality.

Plantation

Other wealthy farmers abandon themselves to an idle life, in the midst of their numerous protections, inaccessible to foreigners, because of jealousy or indolence.

Plantation dance

To the east of the Serra do Juazeiro, the path climbs slowly and finally goes through a valley, closed on both sides by high mountains. To make the necessary

Serra do Juazeiro

preparations in Rio das Contas Village, I left the troop behind at Tapera Farm,

Tapera

and at sunset I set out, accompanied by a guide. The moon appeared in the dark-violet sky, illuminating with extraordinary clarity the Serra de Vila Velha;

Serra de Vila Velha

Vila Velha state park today

I could easily distinguish the bold contours of the peaks and the different clusters of trees that, in this flowery valley, sprinkled intoxicating aromas. This sudden passage from a deserted, burned-out region to the joyful spring landscape acted with great encouragement on our minds, because, according to the experiences gathered earlier and the information of the sertanejos, until Bahia we should not have any trace of the revival of the region’s nature. Perhaps this blooming, as if by nature's enchantment, was just a consequence of local rain, or perhaps determined by the shape of the mountains. For the first time, in a long time, I felt my clothes moistened by the mist, a phenomenon that I did not dare explain at all, given the altitude of the place, and therefore the fastest reduction of water vapors into the atmosphere, because during the months of drought, in places of equal latitude, and even higher in the province of Minas Gerais, no trace of mist did we verify. My guide was inclined to attribute the cause to the rather violent north wind, which I had not noticed for a long time in the backwoods, where the east wind predominates almost continuously. The animals, too, awoke from numbness, to the reviving influx of unexpected humidity;

(1) Capparis yco. Drovers believe that a large corn ration is a remedy for this plant.

Capparis Yco, the caper tree

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