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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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These hopes, however, were not fully realized, as Vila Nova da Rainha, or Jacobina Nova, as it is commonly called, is a poor village, whose prosperity depends largely on the trade between Bahia and the province of Piaui. Due to the absolute lack of rain they were in dismay from a lack that we could never have any idea. We saw large farms of beans, corn, and manioc, all toasted by the violent heat of the sun, an extreme that happens to us in the cold weather; other fields, plagued by excessive drought, having been uncultivated for a few years, leave rows of leafless logs in which there was no longer any life.

Nothing could be more effective in tempering the exaggerated hopes of many thoughtless European immigrants than the spectacle of such desolation. This calamity had plagued, in a large circle, the region around Vila Nova; large cattle, moreover, had perished from hunger and thirst, and a portion of the wealthy inhabitants moved to the Sao Francisco River, from which all supplies were now brought at exorbitant prices. In order to secure what was needed for our mules, who found almost no pasture on the neighboring hills, we went to the chief captain,

Chief captain

who lived a few hours from the village, to ask him for action. At great cost, he got us two measures of Turkish wheat, for which we paid 20 $ 400, and one measure of manioc flour, priced at 7 $ 200. Such a degree of famine, as we have seen here, seemed unusual to us because the surroundings of the village lend themselves to any kind of cultivation, that is, the village is surrounded to the south, west and north by mountains (the Moco Mountains, Bravo or Alegria, Maravilha and Mamao), which have in their plains tall catingas forests, and a relatively thick layer of fertile soil.

Recovering the Bendego meteorite

If we wanted to make the long-cherished plan to look for the Bendego meteorite near Monte Santo, we needed to leave here. Our host in Bahia, Mr. Felisberto Caldeira, had encouraged us to do this excursion, and he himself set out the itinerary by which he and Mr. A. F. Mornay had traveled there. As, however, the road through Fazenda Camuciata and bordering the Itapicuru River above, we were told, was even more dangerous due to the lack of water and the malignant

Itapicuru River in flood stage

emanations of the half-dried Itapicuru River than the road to Vila Nova, we stayed on the Vila Nova road. We left behind our mules and all luggage in the village under the care of the local judge, and undertook a Boy Scout (1) on this 20 or more leagues trip so quickly,

(1) Slang for “alone”. Expression used in the interior of Brazil. (Rev. note, Ed. Melh.).

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