Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

VOYAGE TO SANTOS.

305

force of the south-west wind which prevails in winter is more felt as the wide opening of the great estuary is reached. During my own short stay, the wind never rose beyond a gentle breeze, and the temperature on land was no more than agreeably cool, usually between 55 and 60° Fahr. during the day.

The distance from Monte Video to Santos, which is reckoned at 970 sea miles, was accomplished in about three days and eighteen hours. The voyage was uneventful, On the 3rd we approached the Brazilian coast, but the land lay low, and no objects could be distinguished. The weather was all that could be desired by the most delicate passengers, the barometer remaining almost stationary at about 30*2 inches,* and the temperature by day rising gradually from 57° at Monte Video to 62° in lat. 25° south. Before sunrise on the morning of July 5, we entered the bay through which the Santos river discharges itself into the Atlantic, and found ourselves in a new region. The richness of the green and the luxuriance of the foliage recalled the aspect of the coast at Jacmel, in Hayti, and as the morning advanced, while we slowly steamed towards the head of the bay, I had no difficulty in deciding on a course which had already suggested itself to my mind. I knew that Santos is connected by railway with São Paulo (better known in the form San Paulo), the chief town of this part of Brazil, and that the railway between that place and the capital was also completed ; and I accordingly

* Dr. Hann (“Klimatologie," p. 657, et seq.) has discussed the causes of the prevalent high barometric pressure on both coasts of temperate South America, and has shown that in winter the area of maximum pressure moves northward towards the Tropic of Capricorn.

determined to leave the steamer, and find my way by land to Rio Janeiro.

Santos is an ancient place which had long remained obscure, until the great development of coffee-cultivation in South Brazil, and the construction of a railway to the interior, have made it the most advantageous port for the shipment to Europe of that important product. It lies at the mouth of an inconsiderable stream that enters the head of the bay. Seen from the sea, it appears to be backed by a range of lofty, flat-topped hills, but, in truth, these are no more than the seaward face of the great plateau which extends through a considerable part of the province of San Paulo. Although Santos is placed a few miles south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the aspect of the vegetation is completely tropical; and if a stranger were in doubt, the fringe of cocoa-nut palms on the shores of the bay would completely reassure him. Although the thermometer on board ship did not rise above 67°, the air seemed to us, arriving from the south, very warm, and we were surprised to hear the company's agent, when he came on board, complain that he had found the water in his bath uncomfortably chilly.

I landed with a young German fellow-traveller who, like myself, intended to proceed to San Paulo; and, as we found that the train was not to start for three hours, we occupied the time in ascending the nearest hill. It was now nearly three months since I had enjoyed a glimpse of true tropical vegetation in the forest of Buenaventura, and the interest and delight of this renewed experience can never be forgotten.

TROPICAL VEGETATION AT SANTOS.

307

It was clear that on the slopes about Santos the native forests had been cleared, but on all the steeper parts, not reclaimed for cultivation, the indigenous vegetation had resumed the mastery. Trees and shrubs in wonderful variety contended for the mastery, and maintained, as they best could, a precarious struggle for existence with a crowd of climbers and parasites. So dense was the mass of vegetation that it was impossible to penetrate in any direction farther than a few yards, and there was no choice but to follow the track that led to the summit of the slope, on which stood a pretty house with an adjoining coffee-plantation. Among the many new forms of vegetation here seen, the most singular was that of the Tillandsia. Long, whitish, smooth cords hang from the branches of the taller trees, and at eight or ten feet from the ground abruptly produce a rosette of stiff leaves, like those of a miniature pineapple, with a central spike of flowers. But the most brilliant ornament of this season was a species of trumpet-flower (Bignonia venusta, Ker = Pyrostegia ignea, Presl), which, partly supporting itself, and partly climbing over the shrubs and small trees, covered them with dense masses of brilliant orange or flame-coloured flowers.

Laden with specimens, I returned to the town just in time for the afternoon train to San Paulo. The railway was constructed by an English company, and is so far remarkable that a somewhat difficult problem has been solved in an efficient and probably economical fashion. The object is, within a distance of a few

* The species common here is allied to T. stricta, but is not, I think, identical,

miles, to raise a railway train about 2500 feet. This is done by four stationary engines. The line is laid on four rather steep inclines, with nearly level intermediate spaces, each ascending train being counterpoised by one descending in the opposite direction, and the loss of time in effecting the connections is quite inconsiderable.

On every map of Brazil that I have seen, the Serra do Mar, which we were here ascending, is represented as a range of mountains running parallel to the coast, and extending from near Rio Janeiro to the Bay of Paranagua in South Brazil, apparently dividing the strip of coast from the low country of the interior. Most travellers would probably have expected, as I did, that on reaching the summit we should descend considerably before reaching San Påulo, and it was with surprise that from the summit I saw before me what appeared to be a vast level plain, with some distant hills or inountains in the dim horizon. It is true that the drainage of the whole tract is carried westward and ultimately reaches the Paranà ; but the slope is quite insensible, and I do not think that, in the space of about sixty miles that lay between us and San Paulo, the descent can exceed two or three hundred feet. There was a complete change in the aspect of the vegetation, and open tracts of moorland recalled scenes of Northern Germany.

Night had closed before we reached the station at San Paulo. There was a difficulty about a carriage to convey us to the hotel. Perhaps the demands were unreasonable, or perhaps we were too unfamiliar with the coinage of Brazil, which is that of the mother

GERMAN COMMERCIAL TRAVELLERS.

309

country; but on hearing from the driver a demand for several thousand rees, we indignantly resolved to walk, and engaged a man to convey our luggage to the hotel. We were favourably impressed by the appearance of this provincial capital. In the space of a mile we passed through several good streets, well lighted with gas, and better paved than any I had seen in South America. Many handsome houses with adjoining gardens were passed on the way, and, on reaching the Grand Hotel, nice clean rooms, and good food provided for the evening meal, further conduced to favourable first impressions of Brazil.

My young German companion, a traveller for a commercial house, was returning from a visit to the interior of Brazil. By steamer on the Paranà and Paraguay he had gone from Buenos Ayres to Cuyabà, the capital of the province of Matto Grosso, a vast region with undefined boundaries, probably larger than most of the European states. I have often been struck by the results of superior education among Germans engaged in business, as compared with men of the same class in other countries. It is not that they often merit the designation of intellectual men, and still more rarely do they show active interest in scientific inquiry; but they retain a respect for the studies they have abandoned, are ready to talk intelligently on such subjects, and, as a rule, have a regard for accuracy as to facts which is so uncommon in the world, as much because the majority are too ignorant to appreciate their importance as owing to deliberate disregard of truth. I did not learn much as to the progress of inner Brazil, but my fellow-traveller

« ÎnapoiContinuați »