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Serra da Piedade, Caete

Caete, formerly also called Vila Nova da Rainha, is a small town, irregularly built in a beautiful fertile valley, above Serra da Piedade.


In the valley, the soil is made up largely of red clay, from which gold easily separates. The brother of the District administrator, Dr. Ferreira da Camara, has an important mine in the vicinity, which has, above all in the quartz veins, an abundance of gold.

At dawn the next day we made an excursion to the nearby Serra da Piedade. This mountain of rock rises northwest of the village, entirely isolated in the valley, covered all around, below to the middle, with undergrowth; above, there are grasses, ferns, a species of shrub-shaped bamboo and some thick woods of Gonfias, Laurels, Malpiguias, Birsonimas, Styraxes, Rupalas, etc., and, at the summit, adorned with the beautiful vegetation of the field: Alstromerias, Amarilis, Orchids, Velosias, Micanias, Suavagesias, Declieuxias, etc. The base of the mountain consists of quartzite, on which, in many places, are deposits of iron-containing mica schist and magnetite. Superb is the panorama that unfolds from the top of this mountain, about 5,400 feet in altitude, in which we spent four hours; they rise, like giants, around her: Pico de Itabira in Sabara; the Serra do Caraca, in Catas Altas; the Serra da Lapa etc.;

Pico de Itabira

Serra Caraca

Serra da Lapa

and before us to the west shone the holy lake. The soul of the beholder, faced with such prospects, wanders in rapt visions, and, gazing beyond the fields, the mantle and habitation of men, consecrates the places which already by nature dominate over the distant regions. With these feelings, we enter a hermit's abode, built with a chapel at the top. This hermitage was also reputed to be miraculous because it was the home of a certain woman who was considered a saint in the region. She had lived there for many years without any food but an egg daily. Being subjected to attacks of catalepsy was perhaps the reason why the people considered her miraculous and visionary. We did not, however, see her, for the government had made arrangements to remove her from there.

From Caete onwards, during the long journey, we had to go through big woods. This camp probably owes its name to them, because Caete means thick forest

(1). The forest that covers the Serra do Mar follows the Rio Doce and its tributaries Piranga, Gualacho, Percicaba (1) and Santa Barbara; to the west, follow past Mariana

(l) Of caa, 'leaf, tree', of ete, 'very true'.
(2) In the original, Percicaba. This is the common name of the Piracicaba River, which, thickened by several waterways, is one of the first tributaries of Doce. (Rev. Note, Hist. Inst., and Geogr.).