Aventuras I, Aventuras II, Aventuras III, Advice for visitors to Brasil, Aripuaná, Brazilian cage birds: Finches, Seed list, Pantanál
AVENTURAS e LEMBRANCAS do
7 July 1993
The Weather| The Bus System | Buildings | People | Geology | Driving | Shopping | Our Apartment | Potpourri | Mata de Jambreiro | TRIP TO GUARAPARÍ | Trip to Caraça | Television | Mais de Qualquer | Caratinga | Sample morning walk to work.
Minas Gerais state is larger than Texas. The capital, Belo Horizonte, is also called B.H. (pronounced Bay Aga) by the locals. We are in a mixture of 3 vegetation types: the Cerrado (pronounced Sayhadu) which is mostly short dry-looking twisted trees growing on nutrient poor soils with pH 4-5 (highly acid). It is roughly similar to the South African savanna. The campo rupestre (grassland) occupies the hill tops. The tropical rain forest occupies the richer drainage channels. It is the Mata Alantica (Atlantic forest) which is endangered with its wildlife. B.H. is a metropolis of 3 million, the third largest in Brazil. It is very hilly with side streets of sharp cobblestones. There are many beautiful blooming trees, flowers, and birds in the city.
Generally the climate is delightful in Belo Horizonte, M.G. We arrived in August, winter here--almost always sunny with occasional clouds. A long sleeved shirt was good to wear in the morning. Sometimes a T-shirt was plenty in the afternoon. At night we wanted both our 2 light, porous blankets and the one wool medium weight also. A few nights we wanted more--like an electric pad or blanket. No extra heating is found in Brazilian houses here or in most public buildings.
With summer (as in January) we still want the 2 light blankets about half the time. This is the rainy season and the humidity is often high. The weather forecasts on TV generally say 16oC-39oC (~60-104oF) and that includes the hot coast in another state. So it rains-hard sometimes for about 10-20 minutes, then it slacks off to light drizzle and usually quits. Every rainy day usually clears off to have some sun with clouds. The red ground is so porous it soaks up what doesn't run off and can be walked on in an hour after a rain without the sticky, squishy sinking-in- the-mud that we are used to in the USA. Some days, even 2 or 3, are cloudy without rain. Also we see 3 or 4 days mostly sunny without rain.
After 3 months of the rainy season I have needed my umbrella only 7 times even though I walk to and from work regularly. Even then I didn't get very wet on my trouser legs and shoes. True I got a ride home in a car twice when rain was hard at 5 PM. But had I waited 30 minutes, I wouldn't have needed it. I suppose B. H. gets 60" of rain annually (I seem to remember reading a figure close to this).
The Bus System
Brazilian cities have muitos (lots of)
buses! The "onibus" is coded by color and number. In B.H. the
White - are the University buses going through the University and the perimeter outside. They are free to staff and students.
Yellow - one is semi-express bus through the University to town. Other yellow buses have other routes.
Blue - is the regular within-city bus. Some traverse at least 10 kilometers plus return.
Red - is within-city express.
Between cities buses have patterned colors and names like "Marco Polo", Passaro Marron"(brown bird), Dinosauro.....One boards the rear of a bus, goes through a turnstile and then you may pay a boy/young man about 30 cents (4,000 Cruzeiros that day) immediately or later. Schedules are subject to change without notice (or you are supposed to know without being told that during Vestibular (entrance exam) or when school is "out"- buses do not keep schedule.
265 bus routes are listed in the phone book. Some come every 10 minutes. We take blue 1202 to go about one km up and down hill to the Aeroport shopping. Blue 2004 goes to the city Centro and beyond. SC05 goes from the campus past Del Rey ("of the King" from the older Portuguese D' el Rey) Shopping Center (where we frequently shop) to the city center.
So! There are a lot of buses in B.H. On one trip in Luiz's car, we were stopped at a red light and I counted 21 buses that crossed left to right or right to left before the light changed!
Most of our Brazilian hosts advised against using buses in the Centro because of robberies at knife point and especially at night (i.e. that we should get a car). But so far we find that buses are good ways to get around, if you know where you are going. Sometimes a young boy may hand out slips of paper to bus patrons asking for money to buy school books or an operation, or whatever. Cars are a good hedge against inflation. But they are expensive-perhaps two and a half times the equivalent in the USA. At least half use only pure alcohol. I have held back from getting one because even after 5 months I don't know how to get around the confusing roads. I dislike having to pay boys to guard your car from damage by self-same boys. And parking under one's apartment building is not easy. Further, we have been seeing a commercial on TV stating that more Brasileiros are killed each year in auto accidents than all the USA soldiers killed in Vietnam.
Belo Horizonte has many tall buildings, each of a different size, and design. Twenty or more stories are not rare. What would surprise most US citizens is that the tall buildings are often very thin. A few are only one room (4 meters?) thick, and only about 4 rooms wide. Evidently, only small plots of land are available for building, so they go narrow and high.
The construction is almost always of reinforced concrete for supports and floors, and tile bricks. The bricks have 8-12 square holes 4 x 2 or 4 x 3 . The bricks are about 10-12" square x 7-8" wide. This makes for good sound proofing of walls. Of course, they measure in the metric system. Lots of windows are provided with metal bars of many designs to thwart thieves of houses on lower stories. Doors have lock bolts that require two turns and go twice as far into the side frames as in the USA. Often a 2nd lock and 3rd bolt are installed, as in our apartment.
Of course, there are the "favelas" which are ramshackle slums. They sometimes intersperse between regular buildings and under and beside bridges, but are mainly encountered on the edges of the city.
In general, Brasileiros are friendly, talkative and make excellent hosts. First names are all one knows much of the time, even among friends. Many names are popular and repeated even more than in the US. Eliana, Simone, Jose, Luiz...and last names Da Silva, Pinheiro...
Many more than you might expect are short, but there are plenty of people whom one thinks of as regular European size. Racial intercrosses with several generations of segregation and assortment are common and many handsome and beautiful phenotypes result.
I was hoping Lotus would write about the people whom we have met, almost all of whom were very helpful. But she missed getting started and so we are way behind now. I'll try to say something.
On our arrival we were greeted by Professor Luiz Eustaquio Pinheiro and two couples of graduate students. Denise Aparecida Andrade de Oliveira was to be my trainee and her husband Marcelo Kuabara was of Japanese descent. Both had been in Scouting and Marcelo still had some connections. Simone , a cytogeneticist and DNA specialist worked in the lab next door and her husband, "Jota Day" (JD) is of a handsome coffee hue. Both Marcelo and JD were handsome, very mild mannered, graduate students and it turned out very helpful. Marcelo helped on the computer a lot, in the lab, and with the rabbits. JD injected and bled cattle for us a good part of the time, but had to stop to finish his master's degree.
Luiz invited us to a family churrasco right away and started us on the Brazilian way. He gave us very good advice about investing our salary, described how the inflation went and how it would affect us. He had arranged for our first two weeks in the apartment of another Veterinarian, who was away with his wife in Holland for that time. Then he helped us find an apartment for the year. He had arranged such a good deal for an apartment of another vet professor, Prof. Jose' Claudio de Almeida Souza, that we couldn't turn it down. We got a nice apartment with a live in "maid" for an average of $300 per month. It started at $440 and went down to $142 with the inflation. (Then it readjusted.) It was nicely appointed. The only fault I found was that it was a little small and I couldn't keep cage birds or raise vegetables or flowers. Neither apartment had screens on windows which Americans miss.
Luiz is much concerned about Brazil's "hanging in there" in science until the country can "come into its own" in the next century. So he pushes for students and faculty to learn more English , and for visiting scientists to contribute what Brazil can use in order for Brazil to compete in the world. Many of the professors and students have analyzed the major problem in Brazil as politics--with nepotism, graft, and incompetence in public office. (All were surprised that President Collor was impeached successfully--perhaps a hopeful sign.) Luiz cited one example as the failure of buses to comply with the law to stop polluting the air. There is no fine nor official disapproval evident.
Now and then there appeared students from the medical school, Átila in human cytology, and Rachel Garcia working with Robertsonian translocations. Helen was in immunology working on monoclonal antibodies and leukemia. Antonio Carlos (Limao) worked on oncogenes of oöcytes . Samuel Tadeu, a technician in the lab, was really a law student and appeared only now and then until he was replaced by Eneida Paganini Valente with a degree in biology who was a good lab technician and related to THE Paganini. In April we were lucky to get still another part time technician, Cibele Velloso Rodrigues with a masters degree in biology. (We were still shorthanded.)
The dean of the Vet. School was Jose' Ailton Da Silva and the chairman of Zootecnia was Jonas Carlos Campos Peireira, who got a degree in quantitative inheritance at Edinburg, Scotland. Both of these administrators appeared very friendly and seemed to want me to return if I couldn't remain another year.
A student from the Catholic University here in Belo H., Márcia Fonseca de Lima, worked in our lab about once a week. She was very helpful and invited Lotus and I and Alan not only to Tripuí, her family's fazenda, but also to their beach home in Guaraparí.
In mid April I finally met Anthony Rylands again, whom I had first met fourteen years before in the "wilds" of Aripuaná counting sagui (marmosets) as they jumped from tree to tree across a path. He is teaching mammalogy here in the ICB, Institute of Biological Sciences, about half a mile away. Lotus had already learned that he is working extensively with several very effective organizations (Conservation International, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, more locally, Fundacão Biodiversitas, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy) to preserve habitat of Brazilian wildlife and secure cooperation of the people living around the reserves,
The professor working on rabbits here is Walter Motta Ferreira who has a graduate student, Liliane Denise. He was able to arrange 36 rabbits for us to use for immunizations.
A most remarkable professor, Jose' de Alencar Carneiro Viana, has been retired for some years. But he is writing another book, this one on third world nutrition. He has a very nice personality that shows through in spite of his age. More remarkable is that he received his master's degree just after WWII at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa under Prof. Thomas, an ISU biochemist.
I am leaving out many others who deserve mention such as Karen, a transverse flute player from New York who is married to Benjamin Coelho, #2 administrator in the University's School of Music; Dennis Poague, who spent a year in Ames, was a taxi driver in silicon valley, was a chef around the world, wants to open a car garage in Belo Horizonte and is married to the chairman of the Statistics department, Sueli Mingoti, whom Lotus knew in Ames. LOTS of interesting people!
We know that Brazil and Africa were still connected, accounting for some similarity in geology, while the North American continent was separated. The land around here, although glaciated about 700 million years ago, now has some steep river-cut V-shaped valleys. The soil is a shade of red almost everywhere. Iron mines surround Belo Horizonte in part, and there are gold mines nearby. They are located in the Serra do Curral Del Rey (The King's Corral Mountain) which crosses the southeastern foot of the city. The overlooking mountain peak rises to 1388 meters (about 4,600 ft.)altitude. We have learned from a synopsis by Eduardo A. Ladeira (Dept. of Geology) that the mountain range is made up principally of a rock sequence of Proterozoic age, formed about 2000-2400 million years ago. To the southeast, this Minas Supergroup of rock layers is overthrust by the Rio das Velhas greenstone belt (Archean age, even older), which contains the major gold mines.
The main part of BH City lies on basement rock of granitic gneiss. Fifty years ago, when BH had 180,000 inhabitants, it lay only on the basement rock formation. Now that the metropolitan city has grown to 3.5 million people, it covers the other rock sequences too.
The Minas Supergroup is made up of 4 subgroups of rock. The Itabira (Ita is a Tupi Indian word for rock) Group contains world class iron deposits in its lower Cauê Itabirite formation. The lens shaped ore body contains 285 million tons of high grade (68%) iron ore(!) and consists of friable hematite from which other minerals were leached. The local wags say that the iron mines have eaten away so much of the mountain range that one of these days the range will fall over backwards. Associated with all this is an intense magnetic anomaly as well as an intense gravimetric anomaly. Belo is near the center of the bottom part of a north/ south oriented dumbbell shape of the craton of São Francisco which is over 1,000 km long.
Natural caverns in limestone are common near Belo Horizonte. The airport, a 45 minute drive from the city, had to have several such caves filled in by the city. Quartz often associated with gold is deep and surfaces here and there. Quarries nearby provide many beautiful building stones in skyscrapers, shopping center floors, store fronts, home kitchen counters, and even pillars, floors, and counters at McDonald's! The state of Minas Gerais produces gold, silver, diamonds, (emeralds), aquamarine, tourmaline, rubellite, imperial topaz, blue topaz, chrysoberyl, opal, Kunzite, brazilianite, amethyst, citrine, quartz, garnet and "other stones". It is hard to collect stones of gem quality, though, without a "silver pick" (money).
On the way to Ouro Preto to the south and east, perhaps a 3 hour drive, they have soapstone of such a variety of colors and inclusions that it makes a beautiful polished sculpture piece that is hard to resist in the shops and road sales. Chess sets, candle stick holders, rock boxes for jewelry, and such are often to be found.
Many cars here are driven like crazy. Ninety km/ hr = about 60 miles per hour in the middle of the city is not rare. They pass on the right frequently. To turn left, often one must go off to the right and come back at right angles to cross the traffic. This is workable if you know where you must do this. Foot traffic is a hazard. Many Brazilians walk in the street rather than on the sidewalk! Plant growth interference and rough sidewalks may account for some of this, but one explanation for a girl walking in the middle of the street was that she was afraid of being assaulted.
Many side streets are paved with what I call cobble stones. They are of two types. The nicest (smoothest) is called paralelepípedo. Both are rough, but the rougher with "sharp edges" is called "pé-de-moleque".
Maps exist but are hard to get hold of. Often they are out of date. Non-professional maps we've bought were practically never oriented north to the top, although some maps had a direction pointer oriented generally up. One map for the city has a North pointer at what we might call North-northeast if straight up were true north. Often signs are completely missing from where they should be and a stranger would certainly miss his turn. Gasoline, alcohol, and a 20% mixture of alcohol with gas is the rule here. I understand that the government has a 100% tax on cars--so the government makes more on cars than the manufacturers do.
There are many little one-room shops scattered about all towns and cities. But many very large shopping centers are to be found in big cities like Belo Horizonte which has at least 3. The closest to us, "Shopping del Rey", is typical with three major levels and a big open center at the confluence of a Y shaped construction. It has everything but a plumbing and a barber shop, as far as I can tell. Clothing, jewelry, books, music, electronic items, a variety store, Lojas Americanas...++ and a big grocery store, Bon Marché, which is 186 paces wide (my paces are about 18"). The grocery store in Minas Shopping center has clothing, electric equipment, toys, plants, and food...It has 72 check-out counters and one has to stand in line on Saturday. A roller skating clerk may take your documentos to an official to be OK'ed. You turn in your empty coke, Fanta laranja (orange drink), or guaraná 1.25 liter glass bottles and get a ticket for how many and what kind at a room just off the main store. Then you check your other parcels at a holding counter, grab a cart from the adjacent parking lot and enter the main store.
The bread and meat is at the back. In the center are fresh fruits and vegetables. These and some meats have to be weighed and priced at special weigh stations before you check out. Generally available is abacaxí (pineapple) which I like a lot since it is sweeter than in the US and one can eat the center!! Manga (mangoes) are very good but hard to eat around the large, flat, stringy seed. Small peaches (pessego) are seasonal and expensive, big grapes (uva) with seeds are common but expensive from the south of Brazil (2-3X the US price), watermelons are common and good, mamao (papaya ), varieties of bananas, kiwi(expensive), apples from the south and the US, oranges (some green is preferred on the rind), and some other fruits are available, Vegetables include onions, white potatoes, white or yellowish sweet potatoes, almost perfectly shaped carrots, celery ( rare and bitter)," salsa" in place of parsley ,sparse-headed broccoli, green and red tomatoes available year round, green beans, leaf lettuce (no iceberg lettuce), green onion leaves without bulbs....even quiabo (okra). Fresh peas have a short season, and canned peas are nearly always imported dried , then rehydrated and canned. We found no frozen vegetables, a mainstay in the US.
Even more than in the U.S., perhaps because the security guards make it safer from robbery than street shopping, the shopping centers have "caught on " in Brazil. Originally called by the English language "Shopping Centers", they are now just called one foreign word, Shopping (Showping).
We live in a small apartment 2 rooms wide and 3 long, 19 steps long and 10 wide. It is nicely furnished. We are renting from Prof. Jose' Claudio and his wife, Maria Teresa, who are spending a year in Spain. Fátima, their maid and "secretária" and her 7 year old daughter Raquel, have only a tiny double bunk room plus "banheiro" in our apartment. We have a small extra guest room where Lotus can work away from TV. Fátima likes to visit Claudio's retirement home at Lagoa Santa to keep it clean and harvest produce from a small garden. It is about an hour's drive north of Belo Horizonte. That home is a mansion in US terms with a kitchen and dining room on each of 2 floors. It is newly built and has a "caseiro", a couple with a 2 year old boy to care for it. There Fátima has a larger room of her own and more sizable rooms for other duties.
I saw two adult hawks and a fledgling hawk right in the parking lot of the Minerão. It is frustrating not to be able to identify them even though I got a good look. They were thin, not broad winged and the adults had a spot, whitish, near the tip of the wing. Yet they were not caracará, which I can identify pretty well now.
The Minerão is a huge stadium for futebol (soccer) 4 blocks from us. I walk by it every day to and from work. Pele's footprints are cast in bronze there. Pele's full name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Every other time I see a coin to pick up. They are worthless as money. Inflation went from 5,200 Cruzeiros per dollar in August to 16,000 on 26 January. (10 Feb: 18,250 to 22,400 on 4 Mar 93 to 25,000 17 March to 30,000 on 4 April to 38,000 on 7 May 93).
I saw an American flamingo flying with its characteristic reddish shape on a trip to Jaboticabál. This was near a large lake. But it is 1,000 miles out of its species range. On the same trip we saw the spotted nothura (tinamou) right in the middle of the road. It moved only a few feet from the car, which was moving slowly. In the same region we saw a quati (coati) cross the road. We saw tracks of the long legged lobo on the old "royal" road to Ouro Preto" on a fazenda, Tripuí of a student friend. That is also where I saw the Seriema, a large long-legged bird..
We are using Dunning for the best bird book. But he doesn't show the flying field marks for the hawks mentioned above. Both Lotus and I got a good look at the slaty antshrike. We would not have been able to identify it if it had not burst into song several times. Its rear end was a blur when singing! Its white wing bars and gray shape added to its identification. We see several unusual species right in the city. On 28 Jan I saw what must be the first brood of the red eared waxbills. The introduced waxbills were prevalent during winter (August-September) but "disappeared" for spring-summer nesting? The young had a slow awkward flight in a vacant lot half a block west of our apartment. The most likely bird songs to be heard the first 6 months here were the house wren (same species as in the USA) and the bem-ti-vi flycatcher.
Collared lizards are on the sidewalks in a few places, a gecko sometimes on the ceiling of the best apartments including ours, and in the "campus" up to 3 foot lizards with a bright neon green back. A cicada with a policemen's whistle "song" sang in August through September. Then just yesterday I heard a very similar song again. Another "brood"? A more familiar-sounding cicada is also present. Two colonization flights of termites have occurred where we were, thousands in the air being gobbled up by the andorinhas and bem-ti-vi. Termites fly rather slowly. A tiny-tiny ant makes a cup-shaped protection around its nest opening in the red soil. It's about 2 inches across. A book says that one type of parasol ant makes the same cup-nest.
The prime cage bird is the curio'. We saw judging of cage birds in the Mineirinho, an indoor basketball-like court about 6 stories high. It also is near the Minerão. One judging of the curió songs is based on continuity of song, not merit. But there is a second judging on sweetness of song. They also judged bicudo, bico de ferro, canario da terra, coleiro, and tico-tico. The azulão is also a nice cage bird. We saw several in a vacant lot two houses down from where we live. We have yet to see a jay. Our maid says there are lots around. We thought we had found one with a jay like call, but it turned out to be a bem-te-vi with a nesting call? House wrens and rolinha (small doves) are common in the city.
Strange names! A brand of cigarette called FREE--but it is not, a red wine called Drink Drinker--shops called Ilegale, and Sem Nome (without name).... Zero, Witch, K9, Contra Senso, and Orange Juice are all clothing stores... Drosofila is a shirtbrand, and we saw it in the same line we were standing in. Drosophyla was on another shirt!?
Mata de Jambreiro
One of Lotus's English students, Denise (no. 2, not my trainee in the lab.), whom we met by chance on Christmas day at the Praça de Liberdade with her husband and nieces and nephews, invited us out to her sitio where they raise Quarter Horses. It turns out that her sitio borders the Mata de Jambreiro. This Mata (forest) is a biological reserve only 6 km from Belo and near Nova Lima. I don't know how big it really is, but perhaps over 3 square miles. She had a cycad and other interesting plants. Her house is long and at least 6 times the size of our apartment, nicely furnished in an English colonial way. She said many 19th Century English settlers went home and abandoned many of the things they had brought, some of which her husband's family owned or obtained. She had lots of old mementos. Her husband's grandfather came from England.
She had some muscovy ducks, two of odd colors. I thought at first that one had a tan speculum! But it turned out that it had selectively (neatly) gotten the red dirt on part of its wing and not on the rest . It was a pied (white head and neck mutant, plus). Another was a barred! (Later I found another barred and a brown ripple at Tripuí--of which more later.) Then I saw a wild type color rooster! So she had her farm assistants catch it (some chasing!) and it finally "hid" in a barn room and they caught it. I pulled two secondaries, one from each wing, in order to back up my Genetic's course contention that wild type has this color.
Well, then we went on a walk-down and then up, up, up, ...a "road" in the mata. We saw many things mostly unidentified like three different species of brown birds (not little), one a creeper... Two maracana parrots flew overhead (she identified them). We saw two wild monkeys, one of which I got a pretty good look at and, although it was a bit distant, I thought it was an Organ grinders monkey type, Capuchin. Lotus stopped and rested with Eliana about half way up the hill. Alan and I continued with Denise for another km. But Alan decided his knee had had enough so we didn't get to the mining building. That is an enormous building we had been hearing pounding noises from and from which the road might have come. It was raining also.
I probably should mention that Eliana who drove us to the above forest is a civil engineer and the sister of a vet professor who looks like Dick Powell the former movie star. She spent a year in upstate New York. And she wants to improve her English. So she has been taking us places in her car on weekends. She is the one who found out about the cage bird show. Another professor in the Vet school is a look-alike of Ray Owen. He is Prof. Madalena from Argentina, who speaks Spanish with me. On the "Pista de Cooper" around the Minerão, I usually "see" "Charley Hammer", the ISU physicist , walking rapidly for exercise.
Marcia Fonseca de Lima, a student who works a bit in my lab, took our son Alan (visiting for the Xmas holidays) and us to her parents' fazenda. (It was Lotus' and my second visit.) Her family runs the Tripuí, a dairy farm and acreage with a luncheonette-gift shop along the highway, named after the nearby valley where gold was first discovered near Ouro Preto. They have Brown Swiss cattle, some horses and farm some. But now they are running this spacious food stop, Tripuí, on the highway. It is the neatest place for such I have seen.
In back is a lake with domestic geese and ducks, including a pied barred muscovy, young with yellow feet, and that brown ripple that I mentioned earlier. Usually the domestic birds are elsewhere. And one can see a pair of rufescent tiger-heron, Tigrisoma lineatum, bem-ti-vi (Kiskadee flycatcher in the southern US), andorinha- pequena-de-casa (little house swallow), a pair of kingfishers, a pair of quero-quero , a white headed marsh tyrant, Arundinicola leucocephala, a brown short tailed robin sized bird with a nest of young in marsh grass which it was feeding in a few inches above the water...plus...That is where we saw the 6' thin brown water snake. ( I checked my writing of it and I wrote 6' not 5'.) But no snake this time. Later a lot of frogs (RA! nasalized=Hannhh) or toads started up while dusk fell while we were eating supper.
Marcia took us to Ouro Preto (which is near Tripuí) again, that afternoon, with Alan. By the bus station we saw a burnished-buff tanager, Tangara cayana, which now I am able to identify finally. We have seen it at least twice before. It looks like some kind of oriole. We saw the Inconfidencia square again where Tiradentes head was posted on a pike after he was drawn and quartered, and the prison museum with tribute to the rebels. Tiradentes ( tooth-puller), was a dentist 200 years ago who led an incipient rebellion against Portuguese oppressive taxation which was nipped in the bud by a traitor. Colonial furniture and artifacts on display as well as a solitary confinement cell... A co-conspirator who was merely exiled was a poet who wrote the best loved poem of all time in Brazil about Maria Doroteia Joaquina de Seixas known as Marilia in his poem. Marilia was a great ...g.g. grandmother of Denise, my trainee.
We also toured inside one church there--Very ornate and being restored--The Igreja de São Francisco de Assis. Well ,while inside this church we met (coincidence-coincidence) Karen Charney and her husband and her mother. Karen was in the Portuguese class at the University here with Lotus and is an Americana married to a Brazilian. She plays the transverse flute exceptionally well, but I have managed to get her to play with me only once.
Then we drove again almost to Mariana (town), even older than Ouro Preto, and went down in a mine. The guide said that more gold came from this small region than any other place in all the Western Hemisphere. But this mine is not now producing. The gold by the way was black in color and occurred with iron pyrite = fool's gold, quartz and hematite. That is why the name: Ouro Preto = black gold. The gold made this region the richest in Brazil at the time and explains how 18 beautiful churches with rich decorations could be built by different Catholic orders in one small city.
I saw just a bit of a TV program today- a special by XuXa (shu-sha). This is a Brazilian atriz(=actress). Fátima told me XuXa was going to the USA and that this was her last appearance in Brazil for a year. She has been extremely popular here. So look for her appearance on US TV. One of her company includes another actress that was a regular on the Trapalões (bunglers=blunderers) program. That is the most popular comedy program here and is still going after our Jaboticabal days l4 years ago.
Before I forget, I am using the book by John S. Dunning-"South American Birds" 1987 as my main source reference. But we also have to use Johan Dalgas Frisch "Aves Brasileiras" and Helmut Sick's "Ornitologia Brasileira" plus a couple of smaller ones.
As you see I am adding things in bits and pieces as I think of them. Well, a very interesting thing I must add, I have not yet seen. It is the Peripatus. The Peripatus exists, "talvez", in just one valley between Tripuí and Ouro Preto. We got within one km and would have had to walk that far down to a distant valley stream. They do have other transportation that was not available when we were taken there by Marcia. So we didn't inflict that difficult walk on Lotus or Marcia or Alan. I could have made it of course. Lotus wants me to inform you that Tripui' is the Indian name for the "bicho" which biologists call Peripatus, supposedly the "missing link" between annelids and arthropods. Surprise! The 20 Nov Science arrived (26 Jan) and another Peripatus from Australia is on the cover.
Now it is the second of Jan 93! Today we went across town on the onibus to the south end of the city for 4,600 Cr each (~ 31 cents -current exchange ~15000 Cr/ dollar). We went to Beaga (B.H.) Shopping. Fátima told me the sidewalk lizard had the popular name of calango. I was reminded of a Brazilian play named "e'" meaning "is", talvez (perhaps), the shortest name for a play in existence? I also got the third name for the bumps in the streets that deliberately slow down the cars and other vehiculos. The name I remember best is lombada, but quite a few signs say saliencia instead. But the name many use is quebra-molas = break springs. A fourth name is Ondulacão (wave).
I learned that the green backed lizard in the campo that can get to 3 feet long is called Teií and another is lagartixa. The tree that looks like a pine but is not is the Casuarina. Lotus knew this tree before, but I couldn't keep its name in mind. The beautiful little weed is called Serralha, Emilia sonchifolia. It has a rose-red-cherry colored blossom. There is an 8" sedge with white based bracts around the flower. It is called capim-estrela(star-grass), Rhynchospora erva-estrela and while not common, it is to be found at least every block or two and in the field.
TRIP TO GUARAPARÍ
A student in the lab, Márcia (Maa-see-ah) Fonseca de Lima, whose family we had met earlier at their fazenda Tripui', took us (Lotus, Alan and I) to their vacation house in Guaraparí, Espirito Santo on the coast. We went in her car, a Gol (Volkswagen). This car is one of the more valued cars available. But it is only 2 door and small as are almost all cars here in Brazil. My knees got a bit pained, but not too bad. And the trip was certainly worth it.
The trip takes about 10 hours, a distance of 517 km. The roads are continuously winding. One map shows mountains here and there; but it was all mountains of different sizes. The mountains walk right into the ocean. For a long part of the coast line from below Rio to above Victoria, they do this. I don't know how far it really is. One mountain on the way to the coast was called Pedra Azul= blue rock. It is over 1000 feet high above the bottom and is sheer rock in the shape of a volcanic core with a "lizard" shape on one side.
On the way the commonest palm changed from coqueiro into a strange feather-duster palm plus a small species , and then coconut palm. Banana plantations were frequent on or near the coast. On the way we went through tree fern areas as well. Bits and pieces of the" Mata Alantica" were evident between coffee plantations. One of about 5 acres was named "Mata da Onca" (Forest of the Jaguar). Eucalyptus forests were feral as well as deliberately planted.
Guaraparí is a city of about 100,000 and is mostly a tourist town. One tree fascinated me. It has two long branches and perhaps 20 small ones. Márcia's house was 4 stories overlooking the beach in stair- step fashion. It is right on the beach as are 7 other houses for this particular beach (praia). The tides were about one meter and frequently got right up to the foundations of the houses! We went swimming twice, but Alan and Marcia went everyday and put in some sun bathing. The house had still another beautiful wood--Angelin Pedra. Angelin Pedra is a beautifully grained reddish wood like Brazil wood but with darker ovals like rocks in it. Like 80% of Brazilian new houses, the light fixtures were "incomplete", just the bare bulb hanging down.
The main drink was maracujá (passion fruit) available at all three meals. White rice and many beans are standard for the main meal in many Brazilian houses at noon. Also small French bread loaves, butter, house cheese, a meat such as chicken (frango) or bife or peixe (fish) 'plus a salad of cooked and fresh vegetables. For breakfast Lotus and I added oatmeal with raisins and presunto de Peru (turkey) to their fruit juice and bread and cheese and cafe' com leite.
I saw another native cage bird species in Guaraparí owned by Márcia's uncle. It was a white-bellied seed eater, boiadeiro or Sporophila leucoptera. By the way, the southernmost county of E. S. is called John F. Kennedy.
We made a special trip to Vitoria, the capital of the state of Espirito Santo (and the birthplace of "Jota Day" (JD) in our lab.) to get tide times and max-min. Well, the tourist center mentioned in an English tourist book and a Portuguese tourist book, where they had such info, had moved and was not operational. So we went to the Maritime Station next door manned by military personnel.
Shading the guard post gate was a golden chain tree? blooming that I thought I recognized. It had long pods just like I had collected elsewhere and not identified. I picked up a fallen pod about 18 inches long and the guard let us in finally to see authorities about the tides. I put the pod down by the support strut of a flag pole and went on up to the second floor balcony to an office window. The officer (sargeant?) wouldn't give us the tide schedule, since the livro (book) for 1993 had not arrived from Rio yet. Lotus copied down some recent tides and times. Then on leaving I couldn't find my seed pod. I asked the guard who had seen me pick it up. He didn't know at first, then he went into a room facing his post and retrieved it. They had carefully taken off a few centimeters from the end--I presume they thought it was a bomb.
Then we headed for Santa Cruz, a Marine Biological Reserve on the coast. It had been recently established by the government. André Ruschi, head of the reserve, is the son of the late Augusto Ruschi, a famous ornithologist and authority on humming birds who had a h.b. garden in his home in Santa Teresa. His portrait and some of his hummingbirds are on the 500 Cruzado notes restamped Cruzeiros. Lotus was anxious to see tropical Atlantic marine life. André told her to come back by 8 AM 2 days later. It was a two hour drive, but we did it. (Of course, Marcia did it for us.) He spent all morning 8 Jan 93 until about one PM with us showing us the low tide marine life. I spent part of the time looking at plants at the sea edge instead, and collected some seed which he said was OK.
The tidal species were certainly interesting. There were 4 species of snails at least. The upper layer stayed on the Mangrove tree trunks. They got to over half an inch long and showed pattern variation as well as some color variation. I mentioned that Hawaii and Florida had such variation in one species also. He was interested in that and asked if I could get the references for him. I hope someone there in Ames has that at his or her fingertips and can send it to us conveniently so that he doesn't have to wait too long for the references. The next layer down of snails stayed at the bottom of the Mangrove (Mangue) trunks and in holes and were bluish cream and half the size of the first type. The third type of snails, Littorina were B-B sized and on rocks.
The rocks were weird in shape. Ruschi said they were the common red clay and 45% iron!!! But Ladeira says that is impossible. The sea urchins found them good grinding for protective holes, so lots of unusual shapes with holes large and small were evident.
Ruschi handled and replaced all the animals in the tide pools carefully. None of the temperamental sea cucumbers cast up their respiratory trees while being displayed as is their habit, and the sea hare, Aplysia (a shell-less mollusk), acted as if it liked to be stroked. He said the school children liked Aplysia the best. The rocks had lots of barnacles (Craca). Ruschi showed us a rare sea cucumber over an inch long. On the beach were ghost crabs about one inch in size of carapace. There was a red mangrove crab called Aratú. The tidal rocks had a black crab the same size or a bit smaller. The tide pools had hundreds of snail shells occupied by hermit crabs. And a slightly larger decorator crab was abundant but was evident only if you waited patiently for several minutes for it to move.
A protectively colored fish up to 4 inches long behaved like some west coast sculpins setting on rocks. We saw several beautiful brilliant blue fish up to 2 inches long. A larger one dominated a smaller one. A shy Páru fish showed itself only after I waited at least 5 minutes. It was striped vertically with four black stripes and was 4-5 cm long. Ruschi picked up a Brittle Starfish about 8 inches in diameter to show us. Up on the sandy beach he pointed out the detritus left by the last tide and the beach hoppers which consumed it within 24 hours--thousands in just 2 or 3 feet of the debris.
An 8 inch walking stick (Mantis) fell on my arm while we were resting in the shade (it was hot). I let it walk up to my shoulder and transferred it to Lotus then to Alan and we got some pictures. We saw a yellow-legged heron, a humming bird, Eupetomena macroura, "beija flor", a kingfisher, rolinha= dove, gavião (hawk), a pair of pale-vented pigeons (or plumbeous), frigate birds, tesourão= Fregata magnificens, gray-breasted martin = Progne chalybea and the pied plover, macarico de esporão = Hoploxypterus cayanus, and others. Later, on the way inland, I thought I saw a reddish Hermit hummingbird, Phaethornis ruber, but did not fly like a humming bird, and I now think it was a jácamar. "Tico-tico" were relatively common and we saw a "tiziú" also. The white-headed marsh bird was also seen as well as plenty of "urubú"= black vultures.
Ruschi also said there were jays there, but I wonder if the Gray Jay I saw was really a jay? He did show us a squirrel close up. I had not thought of squirrels within 500 feet of the ocean. I did get some seed like pale blue marbles from pods on a very prickly vine (?) called cachoba just above high tide.
On the way home about 4 km north of Jacaraipe we passed a WHAT? We went back and saw a 3 -toed Sloth on the road side!!! Other cars had stopped. One guy held it up for our pictures. He said he was going to take it to a biological reserve. But I took his license number which was GB 9044. As you may gather if not impressed by books before, the Biology of Brazil is FANTASTIC!!!
The last night at Guaraparí we saw the lua (moon) reflected on the ocean--a beautiful tropic night
I have started collecting aranhas (spiders) again in 70% alcohol. I may add some insect-types like the "aleluia" (large flying termite). There is a black bee (smaller than the domestic type) with a hive on the outside of a stair ramp at the Vet school. They fly into the lab and are attracted to people's hair.
There are parasol ants and 3 or 4 other species evident here. One is tiny-tiny (one mm). It gets in house-hold foods like sugar...One builds a cup-shaped nest about 2" in diameter and an inch high.. to keep out running water during the rainy season?
There is a fascinating leaf hopper, black and white about 1-2 inch "round". I've seen it mostly on Bauhinia trees. The mosquitoes here are not supposed to be dangerous. We have a mosquito net but seldom use it. I get bitten about every third night. We first tried an electronic device that puts pyrethrum into the air, and you sleep with the window open. But, it irritated our membranes too much. Maybe we are now free enough of the grippe (flu) and could try it again. (I've had the flu twice) One species sits like the Anopheles (sp) mosquito , but is not, I'm told. Another sits like a Culex. The tall apartments on hill tops have enough wind to avoid mosquitoes "completely". We are on a first floor 3/4 the way up a hill.
I am typing this on the Toshiba Satellite T1850 personal computer that Alan brought. It is primarily DOS which I cannot use but has a window section that I can use somewhat. Aug 93 converted to my Mac.
Trip to Caraça: 22 Feb 93
The Monday of CARNAVAL Marcelo and Denise took us and led two cars of friends to an old Gothic church /seminary/ park founded about 1801 and more properly called the Santuário do Caraça which is about an hour drive from Belo Horizonte to the east. The altitude was stated on a sign to be 1,297 meters. This is the type-locality for the Caraça Group of Proterozoic rocks(quartzites and phyllites) about 2.4 billion years old. Monkeys and the lobo guará live in the park. One of the lobos is fed by the priest by hand every night after supper. It has very long legs which are black on a chestnut body and also has a blackish mane, so that it is sometimes called the maned wolf.
We took a 2 km walk to the Cascatinha, a beautiful falls to the east which runs off the Caraça quartzites. Lots of new types of plants and blossoms, yellow, purple pink and blue on the way including a nice cool corridor in the shade which was noticeably cooler than the rather warm path that it made "mais fresca". It included two cupins (termite mounds) one of which was shoulder high. The path included red, white, and black sand derived from the weathering of quartzites. Half our group went swimming in a pool halfway down the falls, Denise showing off her charming form in a neon green bikini. There were about 30 people there and other groups kept coming in. I saw a black flycatcher across the falls picking up insects now and then with short flights. It had a white wing band that showed off beautifully in flight. I suspected a crest, but could not verify it in spite of a good view. Back at home I identified it as the velvety black tyrant. It has a rather restricted range and is distinguished from the crested black tyrant by the latter having a crest which is always conspicuous. I somehow got separated from the rest on the way back and saw a flight of 3 "canários da terra" and 2 flycatchers worrying a hawk 50 feet overhead.
We returned to the church and went off in another direction. Down the steep path from the Church we saw the engraved rock that celebrated the place of the slip and fall of Dom Pedro II in 1881 eight years before Brazil became a republic. Lotus kept to the more level path with 2 others in the party, while Wilmer went up and up a rather rocky and steep path with 7 others to the cross that used to be lighted at night. The last part of the climb was by three steel ladders to a really narrow lip of nearly vertical rock slabs that served as the base of the cross. I got five pictures, including two of a new type of lizard, at the foot of the vertical slab of rock.
On the way back we saw a fresh footprint of the lobo that had trod the sandy wet path between our going up and coming down. We returned to the cars for some cool water and went off in a third direction to another swimming area in a river. On the way I saw a large ant with two neon-bright yellow-bronze dots on its dorsal abdomen. Lots of bikinis showing there were well filled. The water by the way while safe is a yellowish-brown from the iron in the rock and soil. Nearby stood an eight foot tree with large tripartite leaves. These were identical as far as I could tell to those on a 9' tree that I found 2 and 1/2 blocks from our apartment. The pods in B.H. had neat brown bean-sized and -shaped seeds. In the wild neither pods nor seeds were evident. A "tico-tico" sparrow teased me near this tree while I waited for Lotus to return from the "ponte" (bridge) where she was examining the cypress-like trees and watching a humming bird spend 10 minutes apparently feeding in and about the cypress trees..
We did see a maple tree and later learned that the old Portuguese priests planted some European trees encircling the Santuário do Caraça. Dr. Ladeira added a lot to our information including that all the rock ledges and slabs here are carved out of quartzites. These were primeval marine-deltaic sandstone formed near shore as shelf-blankets and were deformed and metamorphosed during the Minas orogeny about 2.0 billion years ago.
I also learned on this trip that not only the "coqueiro" palm is protected from cutting but also the Jacaranda', Peroba, Cedro, and some other "noble" wood trees. I forgot to mention that after the falls walk we returned to the Church area to have noon dinner. This cost 70,000 Cruzeiros (about $3.50 at this time). The buffet dinner included rice with corn kernels and carrots, and pans of sweet potatoes, squash, farofa, purple beans, and stewed beef. We also got a coca (coke) and guarana' for 10,000 Cruzeiros each =~50 cents each.
We see about 6 canais (channels). 2 and 3 are TV Record. 4=Manchete (Headline)and is most informative for Belo Horizonte events. 5, 6 and 10 are repeats of the same Systema Brasileira Televisão =SBT. 7 is Bandeirantes and has the most sports like futebol, futebol and more futebol (soccer). Our 8 is 9 in the newspapers and is TV Cultura. Channel 12 in the newspapers is our 9=Rede Globo(Global Network). 9 has the best news from São Paulo I believe. Channel 1 is what you use to record other channels on your VCR.
One striking feature Americans would notice on news programs is that real police chases and closing in on criminals is often followed. One drug dealer holding a machine gun was shooting it out literally and trying to escape out a window, over walls and around the close set houses. He was gunned down! Prisoners are often exhibited on TV and they almost invariably literally "hang their heads" in shame!!
Saturday and Sunday morning programs for crianças (children) may be lead by a hostess, who is also appealing to fathers. They dance, and sing, often with a few to hundreds of other costumed participants, between cartoons. One has the name Angelica. Another is Eliana. Both are blonds. Another program that lasts about 12 hours is called Sexolandia. It is a talent contest and has about 50 12-16 year old girls almost wearing simple but colorful costumes and making dancing, arm, and body movements in synchrony as a background to an obese Master-of-Ceromonies, Faustão.
Lots of American movies with Portuguese dubbing are shown. Generally they start at 11 or 12 or 1 at night. Occasionally one is shown with subtitles and we can compare the English with the much simplified or "cleansed" subtitles. Prime time is taken by "Novelas" and there are about 4 or 5 every day starting about 6 or 7 o'clock PM. One is "God help us" (Deus nos Ajuda). Others are Dona Beija, De Corpo e Alma, Mulheres de Areia, Valeria e Maximiliano, Vamp (Vampire), and one just started ~ 10 March = Renascer.
Mais de Qualquer (More of whatever)
One of the little "bichos" seen (March) was a dark brown, solid colored stink bug which laid bright pink eggs!
Horns frequently honk in parked cars . It is part of a security system. Beside hiding all packages, hats, the car radio, etc. in the trunk, they have the "club" or an internal electric system that will honk the horn if the car is disturbed, or entered without immediately turning off the alarm. One system uses movement inside the car--so that if a particularily large fly gets in and buzzes around it will set off the alarm. So every half hour or so some horn goes off. After 7 months we are nearly used to it.
Bathtubs are rare, mainly encountered in some hotels. Showers are used daily by Brazilians. The weather is often humid so one feels one should shower daily even during the winter. Well, the surprise is that the shower is cold even with an electric heater on the shower head unless you work it just right. You don't have hot water tanks (except in hotels). So you at first try turning on the water with more force. That just defeats the electric heater. You have to turn it on just barely past the automatic cut in. Then it may warm up nicely.
Our son, Douglas arrived yesterday, 4 April 93. Dennis Poague took us to the airport to pick him up. Dennis spent one year in Ames and married Sueli Mingoti, then a graduate student from Brazil. The 5 of us then went to a rotisio-style churrasco (barbecue restaurant). Such places have waiters who continually walk around with swords of broiled meat (fresh and hot). If you indicate that you want some they slice it off right onto your plate. Beef is, of course, the main dish, but several cuts are available. We also had frog, lamb, chicken, and the rest had pork too which I avoid because of allergy. Of the beef cuts I liked the cupim best. It just melts in your mouth. Cupim is the hump of Zebu types of cattle. There was also sausage, roast cheese, farofa, rice, fried banana and a large salad buffet. Except for drinks (such as guarana') and dessert, it was all you could eat. We ate for 2 hours!! Naturally we needed no supper. It cost well over a million Cruzeiros, that is, about $ 8 each.
Yapok and Olingo! I didn't expect to find two new English names for animals that I hadn't read about. If I had heard of them before, I had forgotten. This is information from one of Anthony Ryland's lectures that Lotus has been attending, and then I found them in a book loaned to us. I had heard of Uakari, Tamandua, Kinkajou, Capybara, Tayra, Hoatzin, and Seriema and I had even dined on Viscacha in La Plata, Argentina 12 years ago. So I had a least a vague idea of what those latter names were. Well, the Yapok is a water opossum that has reversed the opening of its pouch so that the water doesn't force its way in when it is swimming under water. The Olingo is a social, nocturnal, frugivore that lives mainly in trees and is related to the Kinkajou! Now you know! Didn't you always want to know that?
On one trip to São Paulo, we failed to write an account. We saw a wonderful museum of paintings and also the Instituto Butantan. Here they have many reptiles especially snakes. This not just a zoo, they make antisera to the toxic venom of cascavel (rattlesnake), Jararaca (Bothrops or bushmaster type), and Corais (Coral) snakes. They are also producing antisera for some of the dengerous spiders venom.
The day before Easter Douglas drove us east in his Hertz-rented Kadette (Chevolet) to Ipatinga then down to Caratinga, MG. We stopped to gas up and snack before getting into the city proper. There we met Brazilieros willing to help us. One who spoke some English, Paulo Pereira Martins, had been assisted when he was in the USA and wanted to repay that help. He found that the unlabeled entrance to the Fazenda Monte Claros, which contains the Caratinga Biological Reserve was only yards from where we stopped, but that the dirt road was "ruim" = in bad condition. He enrolled the tire repair man who had a car, and with him showed us how to get there in return for gas money , about 4 gallons. It takes 2 hours to get there (!) with several confusing turns. The road was indeed in bad condition, but one side was often much better than the other and the scenery was excellent. The Quaresmeira (Lent season trees) blooming a beautiful purple with other species blooming yellow against the green background were beautiful. There were several coffee plantations on the hills. We saw some blue and brown doves on the road on the way in, Claravis pretiosa, I think. Cattle tyrants, black and white birds, and a possible near white monjita were seen too.
We finally arrived at the Experimental HQ, a blue and cream cottage. The manager was in Belo Horizonte, but 2 researchers were there and said we could stay the 2 nights we had planned. We gave each of our guides from Caratinga a US dollar bill which they refused at first, but we insisted as a lembrança (souvenir). The resident researchers were Lucio Peixoto Oliveira of Uba', MG and Claudio Pereira Nogueira of Cacapava, SP. Both were getting degrees at UFMG. I slept with my head 5 feet from a potted plant that had had a small jararaca (bushmaster) in it a few nights past. (There was a concrete wall in the way, so I wasn't afraid.) This poisonous snake gets to be 3 meters long!
Easter morning, 11 Apr 93, the 2 researchers went out in the forest to collect feces from female Muriqui monkeys, the largest primate native to the New World. There are only about 600 left in all the world (in remnants of the Mata Alantica). A researcher in Wisconsin is testing the feces for hormones to clarify the reproductive cycle. The males compete for females only by having enormous testes and letting the sperm compete. Thus they avoid fights which might result in falling out of trees, a real danger.
We were allowed to go along on the hunt for the troop of monkeys. The search for the Muriqui was up-up-up a very steep slippery hill with a path barely broken in the virgin forest tangle. Douglas and I could have nearly kept up, but Lotus couldn't and was grateful for the rest stops of 2-3 minutes listening for "horse whinneys" of the Muriqui (name from the Tupi Indian word). About 300 yards in=up, I saw Lotus was flushed and nearly fainting, and she decided to go no further before I had to say anything. We went back down with a young local assistant, Roberto Paulino Pereira. Down was also difficult, and I fell once and Douglas once, but Lotus didn't. I saw a barred Antshrike, Thamnophilus doliatus on the way down. At the bottom Douglas got lots of video footage of different plants, flowers, spiders, brilliant blue morpho butterflies and the like.
We saw some new bird species on the way back to the cottage. A red-rumped cacique, Cacicus haemorrhous, and a rufous-tailed Jácamar, Galbula ruficauda, and unidentified hummingbirds. After lunch of bread and cheese, we went out with our guide again. Calls from green parakeets were evident from time to time, but they were always high up and against the bright cloudy sky. Douglas first saw a long-tailed tyrant flycatcher. The guide found, along the road way, several Barbado monkeys, Alouatta fusca (red howler). The male is reddish and the female, black. Then Roberto found 5 or 6 Muriqui, Brachyteles arachnoides, for us, also along the roadway. They all stayed 60-90 feet in the trees, but did move across the road, tree to tree, giving somewhat better views. Between groups of monkeys, we saw a jacaré (caiman) 5 ' long in a pond and we were shown the largest tree in the park, a Jequitibá, Cariniana brasiliensis, which we had been calling the "nail pod tree". This one was 40 meters high officially, and 2.3 meters in diameter, breast high, and it didn't even have flying buttresses as do many of the trees in the wet tropics.
The small library in the cottage had lots of interesting books and magazines. I learned that the small black bee resembling the type we saw at Belo Horizonte was Trigona sinipes. This reserve also has the Macaco prego monkey, Cebus apella nigritus. The Muriqui of Minas Gerais has a white face while that in São Paulo state has a black face. The Aranha Armareira spider in alcohol, that Claudio collected ,was the poisonous Phoneutria, 8 cm in diameter. There are 20 species of Imbaúba = Cecropia trees. The Quaresmeira may be one of 3 species of Tibouchina (fothergyllae or urceolavis, or grandifolia).
I thought the parakeet we were hearing and seeing off and on was the white eyed parakeet. But Claudio and Lucio thought it much more likely was the ochre-marked parakeet. Another big bird I saw several times, I never did get identified. Just before dusk we were treated to 5 minutes of howler roaring! It does carry through the jungle! A fabulous end to our Easter!
We still had the car for 3 days after Douglas left. So on 21 April we joined a small group of the Clube dos Observadores das Aves, COA, to visit the Parque das Mangabeiras on the southeast of Belo Horizonte. This was election day when all but restaurants and gas stations were closed. It is the law that everyone must vote in Brazil. Typically for Brazil, the park was closed too. The official OK hadn't gotten through to the guards. So we substituted the Mata de Baleia (forest of the whale), named for some important man. This was just south of the other park by a few kilometers.
There were 6 including Lotus and I. Luiz had a little tape recorder to play back bird songs to the birds, Henrique had a shoulder video camera and a girl friend, and Ricardo had field glasses. These guys were so good that they identified most of the birds by the song or call. We didn't get everything written down, but they heard (as did we, but we couldn't identify) the white-bellied warbler, Basileutrus hypoleucus, or pula-pula; the white-barred piculet, Picumnus cirrhatus; the purple-throated Euphonia, Euphonia chlorotica, or fifi-verdadeiro; the boat-billed flycatcher, Megarhynchus pitangua, or neinei; the saira-macaco, Tangara cayana, the burnished buff tanager; the bananaquit, Coerba flaveola, the collared crescent-chest, Melanopareia torquata; the smooth-billed ani, Crotophaga ani, or anu-preto...
They saw the Euler's flycatcher, Empidonax euleri; the white-vented violet-ear, Colibri serrirostris, or beija-flor-de-orelha-violeta (one of the guys was wearing a shirt with that humming bird pictured on it)... "We" saw and identified, as well, the squirrel cuckoo, Piaya cayana, or alma-de-gato; the slaty ant-shrike, Thamnophilius punctatus, or choca-bate-cabo; the yellow-olive flycatcher, Tolmomyias sulphurescens, or bico-chato-de-orelha-preta; the rufous capped spinetail, Synallaxis ruficapilla; the rufous-browed peppershrike, Cyclarhis guajanensis, or Gente-de-fora-vem; and the ruddy ground dove, Columbina talpacoti, or rolinha-roxa.
Not only the towns may have Indian names (Tupi or Guaraní) as we discovered last time we were here, but also many plants and animals have Tupi names. A sampling: the curió bird, best native singer, is from the Tupí, as is cuiu'-cuiu' = a parrot, Pionopsitta pileata., the caroa' tree, Neoglaziovia variegata, the guabiroba, Cordia rotundifolia, the curicaca, Theristicus caudutus, the pequí, Caryocar brasiliensis, the araticum, Anona crassiflora, the ucuúba, Myristica sebifera, the acacu, Hura crepitans (a euphorb), the cupuacurana, Matisia paraensis, the sumaúma, Ceiba pentrandra, and finally the guarendi, which the dictionary will tell you is the same as the oanani, or jacareúba. Didn't you always want to know that also?
There is a book on ECOTOURISM in English which includes the names of animals and plants "you will want to see". Such names include the caxinguelê, irara, guaxinim, jao', prea', and sucuri for animals and caxeta, xaxim, quaruba, guarenta', jatoba', bocuva, and estopeira for plants. Most of these are xexeu'. I had seed of the jatoba' so I looked up some in a 3 inch thick Portuguese dictionary. I can tell you that the jatoba' is Hymenaea strignocarpa, the prea' is Cavia aperea (related to the guinea pig), the caxinguelê is a squirrel, Sciurus, the irara is Tayra barbara, the jao' is a tinamu, and sucuri is an anaconda. Xexeu's meaning was obscure to me, but perhaps = bodum= bad smell. Who the English translator was is a big question.
Lotus is acting as an editor of the English abstracts for two veterinary journals and is in much demand. She is supposed to be paid $5 per hour and after 3 months got her first payment of 9,000,000 Cruzeiros. The exchange rate changes daily and is currently at 35,600 per dollar. You will see in the enclosures that we started at 5,200 or some such figure nine months ago.
Friday afternoon, Carlos Victor took me on a walk on campus to see legume trees of the type he is working on. The campus here has a LOT of wild wood, cerrado type. One can literally get lost in the area! I saw an undulated tinamou fly away from us from about 15 feet away.
Then, Friday night we went to the family weekend home of Marinez Ferolla, a herpetology teacher who would rather teach ornithology. This home was on the lake front in Lagoa Santa about 30 minutes from Belo Horizonte. Such country homes are often more like mansions, and this one was too. It had a beautiful paina tree in front with canary-winged parakeets, bem-ti-vi, beija flor, etc. A new big tree for us was the pau de oleo, typical of the cerrado, although its size was not. Then Saturday the COA = Association of Bird Observers, had a churrasco at her place. Marinez is the founder of this branch of COA. She had introduced us to the group, including Wencesli, the leader, Mauro Diniz and Cristiane, who are the IBAMA connection (Government Ministry of the Environment), Tadeu Artur Jr., helpful in finding birding localities, who gave an excellent seminar on bird songs, Henrique Nobre, who can record songs and pictures with his video camera, Leticia, Ricardo, Doralice and Luiz Guilherme, Alessandro and Patricia, Warley de Almeida Delgado, Maria Helena Gomez and Carlita.
We visited another lake at the end of the churrasco and saw a new species of parrot for us, the turquoise-fronted parrot. And on the lake shore we found up to 1 inch spiral unicorn-like snail shells. Lotus had never heard of fresh water snails with this type of shell. This lake, like Lagoa Santa had had tilapia introduced and the fish species had changed drastically. We saw three fishermen catching 2 inch tilapia.
Next day, 2 May 93, right on Lagoa Santo, we saw what I believe was a chestnut-breasted heron. Marinez had never seen it here before, and she is an expert. Well it is about 500 km out of its range according to one book. Then we went to a National Park 2 hours away, the Serra de Cipo'. On the lowland part we saw a white-rumped monjita, Xolmis velata, new to us. Somewhat surprisingly we saw on top of the mountain above tree line (about 5,500 feet) several pica-pau do campo (flickers) with brilliant yellow neck patterns and a new yellow-rumped marshbird, Pseudoleistes guirahuro, with a bright yellow and dark brown pattern. Both were foraging in the grasses among the strange rocks. What was a marsh bird doing that high?
The biggest surprise was the strange eight-foot high forest of "stunted" Joshua-like trees near the top of the mountain. These are supposed to be vellozia, belonging to the family Velloziaceae. They had 3 inch orchids, sophronites, high on the "trunk", many with a red blossom one inch in size on them. There were elephant ears all around! Several other strange plants also were there.
New people encountered include Carlos Victor Mendoca, a botany student who just got back from 6 months in Kew gardens in England. He helped me identify some seeds and arranged for a small seminar to some botany students on the lectin research I have done.
Marcus (Anthony) Baptista is a veterinarian of Brazilian parents but raised in the USA. His wife Shirley is also American. They teach at the American School in Belo Horizonte part of the time. Anthony Rylands is the English biologist who was studying sagui (marmosets) in the reserve at Aripuana' in the Amazon. He is now teaching mammalogy here at UFMG, BH and is married with 2 children.
Saturday, 22 May 93. Lotus is in São Paulo seeing Plinio and Marcelo and exchanging some Cruzeiros for dollars. Marcos Anthony Batista took me (Wilmer) to a fabulous Fazenda owned by the father of Thomas, one of Mark's students at the American School. We got an early start (5:35 AM) and drove north past Santa Lagoa to Jequitiba', a town named after the noble tree. It took only an hour because there was very little traffic. The fazenda (ranch) is named Dos Poçoes. The owner, Arthur Filizzola, is an engineer of roads in Brazil. The road by Jequitiba' is an example and is the first road I saw with outer white guide lines by the shoulder. So this engineer is perhaps a step ahead of the others. His interests seem to be broad too. He has lots of Gir cattle as well as some Guzara', Mangalarga Marchador horses, and Fila Brasileira dogs. He has several fazendas, including one in India!!
At breakfast in the beautiful house of the fazenda, I was interested to see a tabby tortoiseshell cat of the type I had just been talking about to Denise and Marcelo in the lab. They also have a Burmese (or Siamese) cat and three (not sky terriers but..) Then I was amazed to see a tiny sagui peeking through the window. It was about 6 inches long plus a tail nearly twice that long. Although I moved slowly and caressed its back very gently, it bit me, also gently. It didn't want any stranger touching its back. This one was the black tufted marmoset, Callitrix penicillata, which I identified by a beautiful book they had that had its picture and identification. [Cerrado: Vastos Espacos; Lloyds Bank, Livroarte Editora, Ltda. Av. Franklin Roosevelt 137 s703 Rio de Janeiro] This sagui has a black head with a white spot on the forehead between two brown patches. Its body is agouti-like in color with a ringed tail. It eats tree gums! It is adapted to the cerrado which covers 1/4 of Brazil. There were also two species of tortoise native to the cerrado.
After breakfast, Marcos went off to town to get his car looked after. The owner answered several telephone calls, then took me on a walk to his office about one kilometer away from the house. Knowing of my interest, he pointed out a Gonçalo Alves tree of majestic shape. He pointed out several young Jequitiba' trees he had planted and then an enormous pau-de-oleo tree even larger than the one Marinez had which was larger than usual in the cerrado. This one was 200 years old he said. He had several beautiful sucupira trees blooming yellow, but he said they were at the low point of blooming. They must bloom all year long. Picking them from the trunk, we ate some jaboticaba fruits, smaller than usual because he said this was out of season and most of these trees had no fruits at all. He said the seeds of the coqueiro palm were used for cattle fodder. I found some biroska trees, one of my favorites, which he confirmed, and then he showed me some cashew trees in full production. All this, while I was busy picking up seed! He helped me too. Amidst all of this was a strange gameleira, a parasite tree, which starts out growing several feet up on other trees and then sending roots down and replaces the host tree. It gets to be very big he said.
There were pairs of canary-winged parakeets flying away from us suddenly or by us as we progressed. Anu branco, a wren, 6 Joao de Barro nests in one tree, three gavião caracara' flew slowly overhead at different times plus another hawk.... We saw his guinea fowl, light Brahma chickens, plus many other chicken colors. Then we arrived at his office, a 9 room building 163 years old, which was painted neatly, blue and white. All wood to start with, it had been plastered between 20 centimeter (square?) posts with a mixture of cattle dung and earth, then painted white. It was a surprisingly durable plaster. Two of the small rooms had vertical wood bars set twisted diagonally in the window sills. This was to keep slave mistresses from running away. He had many awards for cattle and horse show wins and pictures of special winners.
We proceeded to his horse stud stalls. He had his big prize stallion of the Mangalarga Marchador breed brought out. His name was Cobalto, currently a creme colored but really gray, a beauty. This horse was 23 years old and later we saw him eagerly breed a mare in heat--so he's still working strongly. Since gray horses change color during several years, he may well have been a "cobalt" color earlier. I got pictures of him, then of three other stallions of other colors.
We went on to the Gir cattle barn with many colors and horn shapes. Just then a visitor from the state of São Paulo arrived to look over his Gir and horses for sale, so we went off to dinner and picked up three more visitors also there to look over his stock. Marcus returned and after it became apparent that the visitors would take up a lot of time, we took off on our own with Thomas, the son. He and his mother showed us their Fila Brasileira dogs of about 150 pounds size which are very fierce against strangers, but very tame with the family and children. Their vertebra are so constructed that they can arch and switch from side to side like a cat while fighting big cats like lions and jaguar. They have such loose skin all over that it can be pulled out 8 inches above the neck. We had seen one at the hotel at Cerra de Cipo' but not known it was of their stock. This breed of dogs is mainly of a yellowish lion color. But they have tigrado (brindle) and dark tigrado colors also. There was a another breeder of this species there showing a video of the type: Ramundo F. Cruz, Av. Amazonas, 6560 Gameleira, Belo Horizonte, MG CEP 30510.000; Fone (031) 332-7888.
They saddled up five horses for us, I borrowed some "boots" and we went riding for an hour. A 7 year old girl rode better than I did, but then I am 67. We went out to a lake perhaps 4 km distance, and stopped for Marcus to get in some target practice. (He is the equivalent of an American "Consul" in this state, although officially it is the USIS, until one is appointed here.) He walked off about a block away and shot away from the group. While waiting, I saw still-yet another strange tree blooming. This one had a white narrow stipule-like blossom about 5 centimeters in diameter. But the 3 centimeter buds arranged like linear candles along the branch were red with a yellow-green base. After we returned to the stalls, we looked over some of the mares and saw one with a vampire bat "strike" on the shoulder. Marcus got a picture for veterinary demonstration purposes.
24 Junho 93 (Lotus is writing a "brochure" as follows):
Maurício Soares Perreira drove us to the Cabeça de Boi reserve near Sabara', MG (only 20 km from BH) established by SOMMA (Sociedade Mineira de Pesquisa do Manejo e Reproducão da Fauna Silvestre) to serve as a site for breeding and rearing birds and animals threatened with extinction in such a way as to restock impoverished fauna in natural habitats. It comprises a 270 hectare watershed between several mountains with no settlements, although there is a road, and spring water piped to a reservoir beside a small house. Below the house the municipality of Sabara' at one time built a terrace to serve as a football field. On this shelf will now be built 200 flight pens designed to house endangered species a feed house, Botanical Center, Pharmacy, and a Veterinary Clinic as well as buildings for research and to plots to demonstrate the culture of silkworms, honey bees and frogs, as well as a garden.
The objective is cultural (International), not economic: donated funds and materials are being solicited to build and maintain the research facility. Educational Services are being offered to the schools of Sabara' and Belo Horizonte with the hope of instilling in youth the desire to protect , understand and enjoy the natural environment and the creatures in it.
We took a short tour of perhaps 200 meters (before we reversed) on a path that gradually became enclosed by the canopy revealed a cool mountain stream with an 8 foot falls that dropped the temperature to 68o Fahrenheit. At least 3 species of fungi, one a turkey tail type, were seen on old logs. Many species of plants again new to us were noted.
Sample morning walk to work
I leave the apartment about 6:50 to 7:10 AM wearing my back pack with books and papers, lunch for Lotus and I and, on Mondays, the lap top computer. I close the front glass door hard to engage the electronic lock. I walk out the narrow stone paved corridor, close the screechy gate and cross the pe-de moleque street carefully to keep from spraining an ankle on the uneven rocks. I wave to the doorman/guard for the 14 story apartment complex that I am passing and walk uphill past two small blooming ipê de jardim trees past the crown-of-thorns hedge about the building which has just been cut to allow room for at least one person on the sidewalk. It has bled white-milky sap all over the walk way. Several compound leaf trees are growing in the parking, each probably a different species of legume, but a larger one is a spathodia introduced from either India or Africa. The last is blooming orange (the whole year). A couple of trees are the introduced Japanese white mahogany with "hot pink" seeds inside polka-dot capsules in season. I turn the corner, again going uphill south, passing similar trees lining the street. In the summer I saw lizards on the sidewalk here returning from work when the day is warmer.
I cross the street under a mangabeira tree whose grape-sized purple fruit was delicious a few months back. A car honks as it approaches the corner to prevent a crash if another car from the left or right is near. If I am a bit late, I might see a school bus taking up the street space and looking as if no car could get past it. How it misses scraping the parked cars, I don't know. To the right is a row of quaresmeira trees about 10 feet high with a few blossoms of purple left. I continue south up a steeper hill past a pink quaresmeira and some unknown (to me) trees that I have never seen bloom. There are a few crotons growing in the parking of the steepest part of this hill. I puff a lot getting to the main avenue Abraao Caram. It is a boulevard with cars whizzing past 60-80 km per hour (slow since it is uphill) or a truck may be laboring uphill very slowly and polluting the air so that I hold my breath in order to cross the street after it. I walk on the red earth pebbled with round quartz rocks in the median and under an oiti tree whose 3 inch seeds I was picking up a few months back. It is fertilized by bats, I am told. It and other good shade trees are all along the median. I am crossing just west of the prefeitura guard post and car gate opening.
I cross the other half of the boulevard (about 3 lanes wide) to the sidewalk under a white blooming Bauhinia. I still don't know if the white is a different species than the purple or not. They bloom about 8 months of the year and from late fall on for 6 months their penny-like seeds are all over the sidewalks in places. Still going uphill to the west I stride with only ordinary paces even though this hill is easy. I have been winded by the last hill before the main street. I pass under a 30 foot paina tree with gourd sized fruits and a spindle trunk with half inch spines. Several tree here are still unknown to me.
Two bus stops are along this walk. On the left is a fence about 8 feet high with tall grass hiding the University grounds behind it. There is also a series of small trees protected by the fence that have bloomed a round marble sized spray of white blossoms earlier. Now their tiny seed pods are beginning to open. Later the rolinha (ruddy ground dove) will pick up the very tiny seeds from this legume. I pass a place where the grass has been burned out and see a coquiera palm in the cerrado behind it. A red dirt fire lane road edges the fence inside.
I turn the corner to the south walking fast now that it is level for a bit, and the Minerão is immediately in view. Several ant mounds are evident here. All these sidewalks are rough and many people walk on the smoother street which here is black top. This early there are only one or two pedestrians with 2 or 3 students at the bus stops. The walk is broken every 5 meters or so for a tree to be planted (again, since the last ones died). I have planted some seeds, but have little hope they will grow next rainy season. I pass under a concrete shaded bus stop and start walking in the gutter part since the walk is very rough and tilted here. I pass some horse dung mashed flat that was left over from the last night futebol (soccer) game. The police have some horse patrols as well as those on foot. This is also a boulevard with trees in the median. I cross west to the median which has a spathodia blooming, several unknown trees and a yellow legume one that has been blooming every day since I have been here! I have seed from it and they are tiny. One of the trees has round green fruits on top the size of a large marble. Another is apparently the same species, but its fruit is half the size and has not changed size in three weeks. None of these median trees are over 10 feet tall. A flight of domestic feral pigeons wheels in from the heights of the Minerão to the ground to feed on the corn left on the cobs, and other edibles sold during the last night's futebol game. They are one of the only two feral flocks I have seen in BH. They consist of the regular blue bars, checks, an occasional T pattern and pied and an infrequent ash red and recessive red. Several may be "dirty" mutant as well. One is possibly a brown.
I cross the other lane and enter a parking lot for about 12 cars that borders the Minerão's Pista de Cooper exercise lane about 15 feet wide that borders the stadium and is a one km circle. It has larger trees. I pass several chapéu, ant, flamboyant, cutieira, and unknown trees. I say "bom dia" to two of the habitual runners (the rest are walking) who frequent this lane every morning. Both are about my age. One says "Allo" panting hard and the other "Bom dia, como vai?". Neither one knows me, but are willing to put up with a gringo who always walks by.
I only go about 300 feet on this pista then turn off before reaching Pele's bronzed footprints and go down 49 steps to the first parking level for many cars. Many different trees are here too. Most of them are the compound leaf legume type. One may be the sucupira. But while most look very similar they have bloomed with different yellow blossoms. One larger one has a very strange blossom with a two inch spray of white anthers tipped yellow with pollen out of a plum sized cup surrounded with white petals. The pistil is very long, perhaps 4 inches and pencil lead thin, and may curl after a day or two.
I pass several parking levels to one that requires another 51 steps down stairs. This one has a palm, a paina tree and two smaller trees bordering it. It has had several species of birds often evident in the past: social flycatcher, bem-ti-vi, tropical mockingbird, and the caracara hawk among them. I reach the boulevard approximately opposite the guard post and car gate for the veterinary college. The trees here have just bloomed purple, surprising me because I expected them to be yellow like some others with similar leaves. I pass across carefully because some cars don't turn left (as does most of the traffic but may continue straight across my crossing area. Stepping up on the further curbing, I pass under a volunteer passion fruit vine on the fence and tree by the entrance. I wave and call "bom dia" to Waldir ("Valjir") the morning guard. Then I walk into the Vet building. It has taken 17 minutes, if I walked fast.
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