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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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how fast it gave in to our application of a hot bath, a sweat, a synapism, or an ammoniac friction. The country people, in fact, are less happy in the treatment of such cases, because they fight the evil with weak home remedies, that is, with the abuse of ipecacuanha, of the emetic tartaro, which are the panacea generally employed and that sometimes makes the sick person worse. Moreover, nature provides them with the opulence of their powerful medicinal plants, which deserve the utmost consideration of physicians, and many of which should in the future also enrich the pharmacopoeia of Europe.

After gathering, during the three-week stay at Mr. Nogueira's hospitable home, the most important treasures of the sertao (outback), especially those of the animal kingdom, accompanied by our excellent host, we left Contendas, a friendly place, which, to us outsiders, did not deserve the name of “conflict”. We stayed overnight on August 12 at Tamandua farm, three leagues northwest of Contendas. On the way, we saw a magnificent forest of buritis palms, which covered nearly a league in the low fields.

Mauritia flexuoso

A number of steel-blue macaws (Ara hyacinthinus), dwellers of the treetops,

Ara hyacinthinus

circled in pairs, circling us, and echoing their shrill screech in the peaceful region. In the gray smoke stone limestone, whose layers of two to three feet thick follow the course of N. to S., we noticed scattered a clay iron ore, which appears with many folds around Contendas. We found the strange sounds wonderful as the limestone fractures loosen and make the percussion. The vegetation of the Catingas (semi-arid land), which we passed on August 13, on a short march, from Tamandua to Tapera, had no charm during the present drought season, and we rejoiced on the third day, when the savannah finally broke up, and we are on the slope of the plateau of Gerais.

Chapada or plateau

We calculated the altitudes, which we had to climb in the Sao Francisco River Valley itself, at about 550 feet. Doubly painful for us was the loss of our last barometer, which had broken on the ascent of the Serra de Santo Antonio as the leading rider fell off his horse. The path gradually descended over compact limestone rock.

When we got to Chapada, we thought we noticed some diversity in the vegetation. In the fields, which seem less parched here than on the Gerais, long lines of low thicket or higher catingas stretched, lending the landscape a more enchanting effect.

Etching 10 Semi-arid catingas in Bahia

At the edge of the river rises a thicket of prickly Bauhinias, Acacias and Triplaris, covered with leafless Cissus vines. This vegetation was damaged by mud and debris, caused by the annual flooding of the river, which deforms it with these obstacles.

Bauhinia guianensis

Acacia armata

Triplaris martiana

Cissus incisa

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