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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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to another bed, opened in the rock with explosives. Only the strong spirit and skill of a Ferreira da Camara could have overcome the difficulties of such a colossal enterprise. Due to the abrupt slopes of the desert valley and the scarcity of trees to build dams (1) in this high region, the diversion was doubly painful here in a place where only low grass thrives. However, the quartermaster was fortunate in achieving his ends, and having removed a forty-foot-deep layer of fine sand and stone blocks that have been gathered there for thousands of years, he can remove from very rich gravel, in the four years of work done, 5,000 carats of diamonds. In this venture, he was much happier than contractor Joao Fernandes de Oliveira. Oliviera, in the now-forsaken service of the Vau, opened a deep pit beneath the cliffs, at fabulous expense, having found no gravel. It was here that the last great diamond, three octaves in weight, was found. When we visited Mata-Mata, there were 100 black people busy laying a wooden bed below the old works, where the river was to be diverted in October to easily investigate the old bed. As these tasks needed to be completed before the rainy season, maximum circumspection at work becomes necessary. Mata-Mata had once been an opulent gold mine; When diamonds were found there, bloody disputes broke out among the people, who in multitudes rushed to it; giving it perhaps its current name: "Kill! Kill"!

In the same direction of the gold mine of Bandeirinha, and to the north of it, is the diamond establishment of the Caldeiroes, two leagues from Tejuco. The path goes up the mountain over clear, grass-covered, silent fields and low-lying grottos to the small Rio das Pedras. Just past the creek one reaches a long gorge, formed by strangely jagged hills, with crumbling quartzite rocks.

Here a great abundance of diamonds had once been found, and the blacks of the service had been lodged in a few huts made nearby. Currently, the work was not in progress, for lack of money. The companions, who had come with us here, found in the high grasses, which line the great flat monotone landscape, numerous bands of partridges, whose hunt, with well-taught dogs, is the favorite pastime of the residents of Serro Frio; As for us, naturalists, we were attracted to a new,

I) These troughs of monjol and peroba serra are used, which is an acacia of the Legume family, both of hard and resistant wood.

Acacia fasciculata

 

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