CHAPTER III. EXCURSIONS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF RIO JANEIRO.
THE WATERFALLS NEAR TESCHUKA - BOA VISTA - THE BOTANICAL GARDENS AND THEIR ENVIRONS - THE CORCOVADO MOUNTAINS, 2,253 FEET ABOVE THE LEVEL OF THE SEA - PALACES OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY - THE NEWLY-FOUNDED GERMAN COLONY OF PETROPOLIS - ATTEMPT AT MURDER, BY A MARROON NEGRO.
An excursion to the waterfalls near Teschuka, to Boa Vista, and the Botanical Gardens, is one of the most interesting near the city; but it requires two days, as it takes a long time to see the Botanical Gardens alone.
Count Berchthold and myself proceeded as far as Andaracky (four miles) in an omnibus, and then continued our journey on foot, between patches of wood and low hills. Elegant country houses are situated upon the eminences and along the high road, at short distances from each other.
When we had walked four miles, a path to the right conducted us to a small waterfall, neither very high nor well supplied, but still the most considerable one in the vicinity of Rio Janeiro. We then returned to the high road, and in half an hour reached a little elevated plain, whence the eye ranged over a valley of the most remarkable description, one portion of it being in a state of wild chaotic confusion, and the other resembling a blooming garden. In the former were strewed masses of broken granite, from which, in some places, larger blocks reared their heads, like so many Collossi; while in others large fragments of rocks lay towering one above the other; in the second portion stood the finest fruit trees in the midst of luxuriant pastures. This romantic valley is enclosed on three sides by noble mountains, the fourth being open, and disclosing a full view of the sea.
In this valley we found a small venda, where we recruited ourselves with bread and wine, and then continued our excursion to the so- called "Great Waterfall," with which we were less astonished than we had been with the smaller one. A very shallow sheet of water flowed down over a broad but nowise precipitous ledge of rock into the valley beneath.
After making our way through the valley, we came to the Porto Massalu, where a number of trunks of trees, hollowed out and lying before the few huts situated in the bay, apprized us that the inhabitants were fishermen. We hired one of these beautiful conveyances to carry us across the little bay. The passage did not take more than a quarter of an hour at the most, and for this, as strangers, we were compelled to pay two thousand reis (4s.).
We had now at one moment to wade through plains of sand, and the next to clamber over the rocks by wretched paths. In this laborious fashion we proceeded for at least twelve miles, until we reached the summit of a mountain, which rises like the party-wall of two mighty valleys. This peak is justly called the Boa Vista. The view extends over both valleys, with the mountain ranges and rows of hills which intersect them, and embraces, among other high mountains, the Corcovado and the "Two Brothers;" and, in the distance, the capital, with the surrounding country-houses and villages, the various bays and the open sea.
Unwillingly did we leave this beautiful position; but being unacquainted with the distance we should have to go before reaching some hospitable roof, we were obliged to hasten on; besides which negroes are the only persons met with on these lonely roads, and a rencontre with any of them by night is a thing not at all to be desired. We descended, therefore, into the valley, and resolved to sleep at the first inn we came to.
More fortunate than most people in such cases, we not only found an excellent hotel with clean rooms and good furniture, but fell in with company which amused us in the highest degree. It consisted of a mulatto family, and attracted all my attention. The wife, a tolerably stout beauty of about thirty, was dressed out in a fashion which, in my own country, no one, save a lady of an exceedingly vulgar taste would ever think of adopting - all the valuables she possessed in the world, she had got about her. Wherever it was possible to stick anything of gold or silver, there it was sure to be. A gown of heavy silk and a real cashmere enveloped her dark brown body, and a charming little white silk bonnet looked very comical placed upon her great heavy head. The husband and five children were worthy of their respective wife and mother; and, in fact, this excess of dress extended even to the nurse, a real unadulterated negress, who was also overloaded with ornaments. On one arm she had five and on the other six bracelets of stones, pearls, and coral, but which, as far as I could judge, did not strike me as being particularly genuine.
When the family rose to depart, two landaus, each with four horses, drove up to the door, and man and wife, children and nurse, all stepped in with the same majestic gravity.
As I was still looking after the carriages, which were rolling rapidly towards the town, I saw some one on horseback nodding to me: it was my friend, Herr Geiger. On hearing that we intended to remain for the night where we were, he persuaded us to accompany him to the estate of his father-in-law, which was situated close at hand. In the latter gentleman, we made the acquaintance of a most worthy and cheerful old man of seventy years of age, who, at that period, was Directing Architect and Superintendant of the Fine Arts under Government. We admired his beautiful garden and charming residence, built, with great good taste, in the Italian style.