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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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high catingas (semi-arid), now almost leafless, to the east through the low, dry grass, giving a poet's imagination a good image of the entrance to hell. We rode back from Chapada to Fanado, but as we had sent the guide forward, we lost ourselves on the plateau,

and found ourselves on an unlimited plain, hindered in every direction on the

Termite nests

road, stumbling across a grove of twisted branches full of large black anthills

\

Agaric

and thick tufts of agaric. Fortunately, we adventurers ended with more happiness than might be expected; Just before sunset, we arrived at a black man's farm. The enclosure of the house was furnished with a number of jaguar heads, and the owner proved to be an exceptional hunter, for under his guidance, even before

Felis onca, jaguar

dark, we killed an jaguar and a curassow (Crax alector).

Crax alector

This beautiful bird is common, in the virgin forests from here to Bahia. The Indians greatly appreciate their meat, which is similar in taste to that of cattle, and use their glossy black feathers as adornment. Domesticated curassow is often found in Indian homes, and it seems to us that as in the warmer countries of Europe, they could naturalize the curassow as easily as our domestic chicken.

Nossa Senhora da Chapada

On June 13, we left for the Nossa Senhora da Chapada village, located three leagues north of Vila do Fanado. This place, the most flourishing of all the termo, which counts in its parish about 4,600 souls, is located among mountains of thick forest, cut by narrow valleys. As in other mines, the red clay is washed in search of gold, and there was once found here, among others, a piece of pure gold weighing 17 pounds. The vast majority of lapidaries here reside, and the amount of topaz, chrysoberyls and aquamarines they have shown us has been incalculable.

Topaz

Chrysoberyl

Aquamarines

Topaz appear in fractures, most of them the size from a lentil to a chestnut. Rounded stones, which are generally called raindrops, lend themselves more to polishing, and when one is the size of a bean, quite round or elliptical in shape and lucid, it gets a great price; a taler (1) is paid here for a beautiful stone. Lapidaries are excellent in the classification of these stones, according to their size and color, which varies between water white and yellowish to bluish white. The best quality of raindrops is found in the Utinga River. Topaz then come second in price when they are dark and of good size. The grenades, used mainly to garnish the commendations of the Order of Christ, appear in quantity and of beautiful brilliance, but rarely vary in size.

Grenade or garnet

(l) Taler = German silver coin; value of 3 marks. Moreover the word dollar derives from "taler" (Rev. note, Ed. Meth.).

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