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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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in whom I had gained a friend, and I set out north on August 1st before the sun rose. The owner of Capao led me past Mangai, his breeding farm, to Pedras da Cruz or Pedras de Baixo, five statues to the north, where from the top of a chapel on the hill, a pleasant panorama of the river unfolded. You can see the left bank for a long time, covered by a thicket of trees, an exciting change from the tired look of the monotonous leafless catingas. Behind, rises, higher than the hills on the right bank, the Serra do Salgado, with picturesque contours, currently wearing the autumn garment reddened like fire, which the wind spread from afar. The golden mirror of the tranquil waters gives greater charm to the region, where the benefit of trade has tamed the primeval jungle, and given it the same aspect of peace that gave many European landscapes their civilized look. At dusk, we arrived at Porto do Salgado and took a canoe, which, in a quarter of an hour, landed us quietly on the other bank, from which Brejo do Salgado is only a hundred paces away. The waters of the river were very, very low at the time; however, at many points its depth was twenty to thirty feet, and the rapidity of its pale yellow, murky waters was of considerable speed. In a way, this is the central port for the navigation of the Sao Francisco River, from Sao Romao to

Rio Sao Francisco, Bahia

Juazeiro, in the province of Bahia, and with the growth of population and

Juazeiro, Bahia

commerce, the few huts of the village will soon turn into prosperous city houses.The river is now the usual way of trade in a large part of the Minas Gerais countryside, which transports to Bahia with greater ease in this environment than on mules, with its products going to Rio de Janeiro and, in exchange, it receives salt from the salt flats north of the river, as well as European goods. Sao Romao, at the confluence of the Sao Francisco River with the Rio das Velhas, is considered the first port of this river, with its course, four leagues south of that village, interrupted by the great Salta de Pirapora. From there to Salgado, the boats only need rowing, rarely the sail, and make the trip back in four or five days. These vessels are long and narrow, without cover, simply provided with a slight stern chamber, and there are three men who steer them. The navigation is busiest in the first weeks, because when the rainy season comes and it is full, it is dangerous and unsafe.

The Sao Francisco River begins to fill in November, grows until February, and begins to fall again in March. The small rise of the bank in many regions is the reason for the enormous width that the

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