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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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By attracting and condensing moisture from the atmosphere, they serve as a refreshment for thirsty animals. Cattle strip some of the bark with their horns or teeth, and suck on the somewhat bitter mucilaginous sap contained even during the driest period of the year in these extraordinary plant sources. In this case the oxen were often injured in the long thorns or the caustic hairs of which the cacti are armed,

Cactus coccinellifer

and sometimes among them are inflamed or even swollen-nosed animals. It is therefore in the interest of the backcountry, and even out of compassion for the thirsty cattle, to provide them with a means of having this sap, and cowboys often run forward to cut the stems with their knives, or partially open them. Cactus fruits are also eaten, but not so much, as in southern Europe.

Cactus fruit, the Opuntia stricta

We went down from the top of the mountain to Fazenda da Tapera, situated in a basin-shaped valley, above massive granite mountains;

Fazenda da Tapera

and in this spacious home we were offered more comfortable accommodation than we had expected. The quiet life of the family during the dry season reminded us of the hibernation of our peasants in the cold season. Here too many have spoken to us of sound-stones and mountain tops in the vicinity where, from time to time, thunder sounds. The stones of this sounding species, which I saw, were rounded, set upon a narrow base of gray granite blocks, which containing a great deal of amphibole, made the transition to syenite.

Amphibole crystal

On March 10, we reached the plain to the west of the Serra de Itiuba, and there, at Fazenda Boa Vista, on an isolated hill, with a magnificent vantage point, we enjoyed the continuation of that mountain, to an extension of twelve or more leagues.

Serra Itiuba

It looked like a broken chain, because its extreme radiations to the south were covered by several hills closer to us, and those from the north are heading and branching east towards Monte Santo. To the west, its extreme branches meet the mountains of the neighborhood of Vila Nova da Rainha, so that sometimes all the granitic mass in this northwestern part of the province of Bahia is called Serra de Itiuba.

Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhao, Ceara and Piaui

A day of good walking took us, through extreme heat, to the first stage of this exhausting and risky trip: Vila Nova da Rainha.

Church in Vila Nova da Rainha

In fact, the animals, one after the other, refused to serve on this last day, so we were continually forced to lift those who lay down, to relieve the bruises, and to turn loose those who starved for hunger to eat green leaves in the bush; However, we still considered ourselves happy, as we had entered here, where we could expect food and comfort for ourselves and the troops.

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