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Remember the Rainforest 1



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river takes in several points, flooding everything in four to five leagues of extension. In other places, it flows in canals, among the limestone hills, through the lands inland, forming innumerable islands. In the middle of the river, the current accelerates so fast that a boat easily travels twenty leagues in twelve hours. The whole life of the river people revolves around the flood cataclysm in a way; Life depends on it, just like the annual flooding of the Nile, for farming, trade and industry, and the natural calendar of these regions. Here too, the overflow of the waters is the blessing that determines the incredible fertility of the land and, in addition to the above described products from the São Filipe Gerais, it also particularly favors the cultivation of sugarcane

Saccarum officinarum

(Saccarum officinarum, L.). Sugarcane is planted on a thin black marshy ground, the so-called massape, formed by the annual flood, which seems favorable to sugarcane. In addition to the variety that has been transplanted from Madeira Island here, they also cultivate the Caiana cane, from the Pacific Ocean islands, which stands out for its higher height, and the pale green leaves. This less sugar-rich variety has more glucose and extractive material contained in the garapa, from which larger and whiter sugar crystals are more easily formed. However, a singular fact, prevails among many countrymen with a certain prejudice against the sugar of the caiana, on which they blame many diseases. To process this product, there are, along the Sao Francisco River, numerous small mills, in which very little white sugar is produced, and almost exclusively rapaduras, most of which are dispatched downstream to the province of Bahia. In addition to the beans, cassava and Turkish wheat, preferred here, watermelon

(Cucurbita citrullus, L.), several excellent cucumbers and pumpkin qualities thrive in this area, among which we mention especially the tasty pumpkin

Cucrbita langenaria, the pumpkin

and the Brazilian cucumber, which also later became known in Germany, where it is grown. European vegetables do very well here, and oranges and bananas are excellent. This great exuberance of the earth has, for some decades, favored the great growth of the population along the river, and the inhabitants, who enjoy so many advantages provided by the beneficial element, bear the devastations and risks that, from time to time, are brought to them by the flooding. The rapidity with which the river grows often forces them to leave their houses at night and flee to the higher lying surroundings. The riskiest case is what happens to the breeder farmer. The latter needs to quickly reach the cattle and herds of horses, which flock afflicted on the islands of the river, where they are exposed to starvation or the assault of jaguars and alligators. Sadly the cattle rancher drives his faltering canoe