CHAPTER IV. JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR OF THE BRAZILS.

THE TOWNS OF MORROQUEIMADO (NOVO FRIBURGO) AND ALDEA DO PEDRO - PLANTATIONS OF THE EUROPEANS - BURNING FORESTS - VIRGIN FORESTS - LAST SETTLEMENT OF THE WHITES - VISIT TO THE INDIANS, ALSO CALLED PURIS OR RABOCLES - RETURN TO RIO JANEIRO.

This second journey I also made in company of Count Berchthold, after having resolved on penetrating into the interior of the country, and paying a visit to the primitive inhabitants of the Brazils.

2nd October. We left Rio Janeiro in the morning, and proceeded in a steamer as far as the port of Sampajo, a distance of twenty-eight miles. This port lies at the mouth of the river Maccacu, but consists of only one inn and two or three small houses. We here hired mules to take us to the town of Morroqueimado, eighty miles off.

I may take this opportunity of remarking that it is the custom in the Brazils to hire the mules without muleteers - a great mark of confidence on the part of the owners towards travellers. Arrived at their destination the animals are delivered up at a certain place fixed on by the proprietor. We preferred, however, to take a muleteer with us, as we were not acquainted with the road, a piece of precaution we regretted the less, on finding the way frequently obstructed with wooden gates, which had always to be opened and shut again.

The price for hiring a mule was twelve milreis (1 pounds 6s.).

As we arrived at Porto Sampajo by 2 o'clock, we resolved on going on as far as Ponte do Pinheiro, a distance of sixteen miles. The road lay mostly through valleys covered with large bushes and surrounded by low rocks. The country wore a general aspect of wildness, and only here and there were a few scanty pasture-grounds and poverty- stricken huts to be seen.

The little town of Ponte de Cairas, which we passed, consists of a few shops and vendas, a number of smaller houses, an inconsiderable church, and an apothecary's; the principal square looked like a meadow. Ponte do Pinheiro is rather larger. We experienced here a very good reception, and had an excellent supper, consisting of fowls stewed in rice, flour of manioc, and Portuguese wine; we had also good beds and breakfasts; the whole cost us, however, four milreis (8s. 8d.).

3rd October. We did not set off till 7 o'clock: here, as everywhere else in the country, there is no getting away early in the morning.

The scenery was of the same character as that passed the day before, except that we were approaching the more lofty mountains. The road was tolerably good, but the bridges across the streams and sloughs execrable; we esteemed ourselves fortunate whenever we passed one without being compelled to stop. After a ride of three hours (nine miles), we reached the great Sugar-Fazenda {38} de Collegio, which in its arrangements is exactly like a large country seat. To the spacious residence is attached a chapel, with the offices lying all around; the whole is enclosed by a high wall.

Far and wide stretched the fields and low eminences, covered with sugar canes: unfortunately, we could not see the mode of preparing the sugar, as the canes were not yet ripe.

A planter's fortune in the Brazils is calculated by the number of his slaves. There were eight hundred of them on the plantation we were viewing - a large property, since each male slave costs from six to seven hundred milreis (60 to 70 pounds).

Not far from this fazenda, to the right of the high road, lies another very considerable one, called Papagais; besides these we saw several smaller plantations, which lent a little animation to the uniformity of the scene.

St. Anna (sixteen miles distance) is a small place, consisting of only a few poor houses, a little church, and an apothecary's; the last is a necessary appendage to every Brazilian village, even though it only contains twelve or fifteen huts. We here made a repast of eggs with a bottle of wine, and gave our mules a feed of mil, for which a cheating landlord, Herr Gebhart, charged us three milreis (6s. 6d.)

Today we did not proceed further than Mendoza (twelve miles), a still more insignificant place than St. Anna. A small shop and a venda were the only houses at the road-side, though in the background we perceived a manioc-fazenda, to which we paid a visit. The proprietor was kind enough first to offer us some strong coffee, without milk (a customary mark of attention in the Brazils), and then to conduct us over his plantation.

The manioc plant shoots out stalks from four to six feet in height, with a number of large leaves at their upper extremities. The valuable portion of the plant is its bulbous root, which often weighs two or three pounds, and supplies the place of corn all through the Brazils. It is washed, peeled, and held against the rough edge of a millstone, turned by a negro, until it is completely ground away. The whole mass is then gathered into a basket, plentifully steeped in water, and is afterwards pressed quite dry by means of a press. Lastly it is scattered upon large iron plates, and slowly dried by a gentle fire kept up beneath. It now resembles a very coarse kind of flour; and is eaten in two ways - wet and dry. In the first case, it is mixed with hot water until it forms a kind of porridge; in the second, it is handed round, under the form of coarse flour, in little baskets, and every one at table takes as much as he chooses, and sprinkles it over his plate.