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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Tejuco, and we went down, by the eastern slope of the mountain, until the Casa de Telha, a vast farm, that has great plantations of cotton, in the neighboring catingas. Quartzite formation is still predominant here, orienting itself from north to south, at 22 hours, and the traveler only leaves it, when, two leagues ahead, he crosses the Rio das Contas.

Rio das Contas today

The following formation of mica schist, which sometimes transitions to whitish or yellowish leptinite (granulite), deposited on the granite, includes pieces of hard quartz, with a coarse-grained gray and cellular texture. Above this formation we found a very compact, somewhat porous, light gray grain, which is entirely similar to what appears in Germany here and there in ordinary stonework.

Cocos schizophylla

The aridity of the dry, leafless woods unfolded immensely over the rugged terrain of hills and tall reeds. Large stretches are covered with thickets of coconut palm (Cocos schizophylla), whose green fruits, when squeezed, give a mucilaginous juice, proper to cure benign ophthalmics; at various points, thin

Cocos coronata

groves of aricuri palm (Cocos coronata) rise, from whose stems the sertanejos usually prepare a dry bread, extremely poor of nutritious material. For the people of such an opulent country to resort to such means of salvation, so as not to starve, would seem incredible, if we had not seen the misery in which the people of the countryside generally live. However, it seemed to us, as far as education and genre of life are concerned, that these people are in inferior conditions even to the most remote country people of Minas. A filthy palm, with its mistreated banana tree, a bean and cassava garden, some cattle heads, and a few lean horses, all seeking their own livelihood, are the highest aspiration of these unambitious people. They feed on herbs, dried meat, milk, curd, and, during the

time of the fruits, especially those of the imbuzeiro (Spondias tuberosa, S. Arruda, and other species), whose bittersweet juice they make with imbuzada milk, as a tasty snack.

Hunting and sensual pleasures are the joys with which they compensate for their loneliness. Rarely is one among them a white of pure European race; many are mulattoes; others reveal, by the lighter color of the face and the straight hair, the mixture of indigenous blood and white; and, as they often inherit the indolence and lack of control of their American ancestors, they are disdainfully nicknamed tapuiada, the object of their neighbors' contempt. It is a unique circumstance, observed throughout Brazil, that the mulatto thinks that his mestical origin entitles him to greater consideration than even his talent or profession merit.

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