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FIRST TRIP TO BRASIL 1978-79

Original found! Note difference in memory! ..wjm

 

To obtain the "flavor" of a visit to an exotic country, one has only to read the names of some cities: [Of course, it helps if you can pronounce them too. #2, for example, is Ah chee by yah.]

Araras

Jaboticabal

Atibaia

Pirassununga

Botucatú

Uberaba

Caxambú

 

Each of these are cities I visited, however briefly, and they are as large or larger than Ames, Iowa in population. Some more names of cities I visited:

Araraquara

Nuporanga

Corumbá

Piraçicaba

Cuiabá

Ubatúba

Jaú

 

 

All or most of these stem from/or ?  Indian words, but a North American could scarcely identify the country form such a list. Slightly more familiar names might be:

Campinas

Riberão Preto

Campo Grande

Manaus

Those a few North American might recognize, and finally:

Rio de Janeiro
São Paulo
Brasilia

might infer the country of Brazil to many North Americans. On a map one can see that Brazil constitutes one half of the South American continent. It is as large as the 48 contiguous states of the USA. Sometimes referred to as the sleeping giant of the 3rd world, Brazil.

Certainly has the potential for development into a first-rate world power, if certain minerals and energy resources can be found. Beset by inflation, the country is making every effort to develop its own industry. Dependence on imports is frowned upon by the government. This "bootstrap" approach results in many difficulties for "Brasileiros".

But I want to write about the land, people 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, trees, birds, and our experiences as a family, myself, an aging professor of Genetics, wife Lotus and sons Douglas, 19 and Alan, 17 during our trip to Brazil.

We arrived 19 August 1978 after playing Catch-22 with the Brazilian consul in Chicago. Twenty-seven documents were not sufficient to obtain our visas. It took a telegram from the Ministry of Education in Brasilia to bypass a new requirement.

We flew out of New York via Caracas, Venezuela on a DC10 of the Varig airline. On this airplane I had my first experience with the Brazilian National drink, Guaraná. It is a soda pop flavored with an Amazonian fruit. Douglas said it tasted like a fruity ginger ale. I was so taken by this drink that it made up half of my orders for drinks while in Brazil. I liked all the different brands of Guaraná, but probably Antartica best.

We changed planes in fog-bound Rio (pronounced Hee-oh) and landed in full sun at Viracopos airport near Campinas, which is north of São Paulo, the third largest city in the world. Ana Isabel de Assis and Victor Lemos met us there and speeded our way through customs with an official letter. Two of our bags had gone astray to the Congonhas airport; when we finally got them, the lock on mine had been removed and minor items were missing out of both suitcases. Varig airlines made complete restitution of the monetary value.

My precious frozen blood typing reagents, insured and hand-carried, were still frozen on arrival. Victor spoke quite good English, perhaps the best we encountered among Brazilians, and Ana could get along very well in English, although with less assurance. Much of our success was due to their assistance and willingness to use our language.

From our first drive to Jaboticabal from Campinas I began to get a bit of a deja vu sensation of being back in Oklahoma in the 1930’s. First, the earth is red, like central Oklahoma. Some people whitewash tree trunks, as in Oklahoma. The restaurants had hand-washing basins in the eating areas. I saw some windmills, like those I remembered from Oklahoma in the 1930’s. Urubú (vultures) sailed the skies and could be seen on road kills, but the illusion of deja vu dissipated when I saw a caracará on a roadkill. And 16-inch anum preto (long black birds of the cuckoo family) occurred in small groups along the roadsides.

We lived at the terraço Hotel for a week and ate at the adjoining Terraço Churrascaria at the University expense. The "Hotel" had 16 rooms and one suite, on the ground floor, and a little breakfast room where pitchers of fresh-squeezed orange juice, sliced papaya and lime quarters, fresh bread and butter, and rolls of thinly sliced cheese and ham were served from 7:30 to 9. The lovely narrow patio between the two rows of rooms was filled with plants seen indoors in Ames (Sedum, Mother-in-Law’s tongue) and outdoors (azalea, roses) as well as tropical plants new to us (palms, and bauhinia).

During this time everyone but Lotus came down with Atahualpa’s revenge (of course, in Mexico they call it Montezuma’s revenge).

While still at the motel, I was confused by some money-sharks who came to exchange cruzeiros for our dollars, I had been expecting someone from the University who needed to make such an exchange. I realized they were not from this source and stopped the exchange after $40 worth. The official exchange at this time was 18.75 cruzeiros per dollar. When we left, the official exchange was 26.5 while on the gray market or parallel market (since the government used it), the value was 35.

We moved into a 3-bedroom house that Ana found for us opposite the Hospital São Marcos (St. Mark’s). Like most buildings there, it was constructed of brick and concrete and had a flat roof, unlike most buildings, which has red tile roofs. Most houses have walls around them surmounted by broken glass, barbed wire, or nails to thwart thievery. The front "porch" and carport were covered with beautiful swirled pink and marshmallow tiles. The broad pillars and the front wall of the house were surfaced with sized broken glass. An attractive mosaic of a green and brown tree graced the middle of the front wall. House windows in Brazil are unlike those in the United States. The kitchen and pantry were horizontal louvers about 18 inches wide. The living room front widows had side windows fixed in place with central panes swinging inward. The outside was covered with an attractive grillwork, through which my wife could reach the fresh bread left on the sill each morning. The bedroom windows were similar but had separate sliding metal shutters over sliding glass windows. All the glass was horizontally waved, affording privacy.

The ceilings were very high, approximately 10 feet. The kitchen had an extremely low counter with a polished granite top. The kitchen, pantry, and bathroom floors were tiled in beautiful tropical colors, while the others were a plasticized sealed wood parquet. One built-in pantry-closet was the only one in the entire house. The nicely plastered walls soon developed red-brown blotches because of our murderous attacks on the mosquitoes. Window screens are almost unheard of there. Nevertheless, such technology is being used on selected hospital rooms.

Bathtubs with running hot water can be found in some São Paulo hotels and sporadically in houses. We had showers, which could be heated electrically to change the water from frigid to cool in the winter.

City water was generally available from 5-7 AM and could be pooled in a cistern in the backyard. From there it could be pumped by your own electric motor pump to two roof cisterns. Although there was a city primary water treatment plant, almost no one drank city water from the tap. It can be chemically treated, boiled or filtered. A local industry made pottery, especially these filters, and there were special corner shelves in kitchens for such filters. Giardia lamblia was a known microorganismal contaminant.

We had a telephone, for which the normal rate was based on three telephone calls per day. Initially one purchased a line, unlike the United States, and our city had a set number of lines available at $1000 per line.

In our tiny front yard were two Agave attenuata, several plants of Sanseveria, 5 roses, a Scotch broom relative, and by the sidewalk were three small Ipê trees, one blooming yellow when we arrived. The upper lawn was filled with a brittle, sharp edged grass, the lower with a native "grama".

 

SHOPPING

It was necessary for us to go shopping for our furniture. We could not find good second-hand furniture. We ended up buying most of it from the larger stores in Ribeirão Preto, a near by city the size equivalent of Des Moines; a simple stove with oven, powered by a small barrel of pressurized gas, a good refrigerator, a washing machine which we put in the covered patio by the maid’s quarters (which we used as a storage room), and some beautiful bedroom furniture including armarios (wardrobes) of imbuia wood. Later additions were chairs with a dining table, living room furniture, desks, and an Olivetti typewriter. We had to borrow money from Ana Isabel the first month because our cashier’s check from the United States ("good anywhere in the world in 24 hours") took seven weeks to clear through our small branch bank at the University!

I found that, in general, manufactured goods of basic daily use such as hand razors (Gillette) were about the same price as in the United State, but non-necessary goods (electric razors, electric mixers) were up to ten times the price of their equivalent product in the U.S.

Generally the shops are small—even tiny. Diversity is reduced as one light expect compared to the "things" excessively numerous in the U.S. However, a little time searching allows a greater choice than one might expect from first impressions. When a salesperson indicates items of greater or lesser quality, it is a good idea to consider the better item also a better buy.

Clerks are invariably polite and patient. They were greatly amused at our stumbling Portuguese, but evinced sincere appreciation for the fact that we did make the effort. Often we were offered encouragement such as "Only six weeks in Brazil? You speak Portuguese very well."

Sexual implications in advertising are somewhat more blatant than in the United States. a topless near life size poster of an attractive girl graced the corners of downtown Riberirão Preto at least for three weeks running. Topless pictures of women are not rare. Calendars in regular business establishments as well as plumbing shops show very shapely girls in a variety of topless poses. Unisex clothes means either sex can wear the item. Some unisex minibrief underwear shows a couple wearing only the underwear in a variety of suggestive poses. In the United States they would sell out for the advertising pictures alone.

Vitaminas stores are common in the business districts. They sell fresh fruit drinks blended to order that represent a real bargain for U.S. customers.

After a few weeks in Brazil, culture shock began to hit us: the constant strain of different language, different language, different customs, different methods, different foods was getting to us. We hungered for letters from the United States, but received very few. Books in English were avidly read by all the family, softback murder mysteries selling for about $5 if you could find them.

 

HOLIDAYS

In order to celebrate Brazil’s Independence Day the city of Jaboticabal had a week of festivities (Sept. 1-7) called "Semana de Patricia" or Week of the country", the last day of which is "Parade Day". Parade Day is really "Independence Day", The symbolistic day of separation between Brazil and Portugal. Dom Pedro the First (the son of Portugal’s King) was Portugal’s commander of Brazil. However, he was so angered by Portugal’s "robbing" of Brazilian products (taking Brazil’s gold, etc. with little or no compensation) that he threw his commander’s hat in the Ipiranga river and declared "Our relationship (with Portugal) is ended."

The parade of Parade Day was held in the morning to escape the heat (like almost all other activities) and consisted of an honor guard, two high school bands and some mounted ranchers who were accompanied by a little boy on a donkey. They occurred about 15 minutes apart and after reaching the end of the parade route (a straight line through the Business District) they headed back to the origin taking different routes. One high school band came by three times and the ranchers followed suit. The band from the state school (in which several people we know played) was dressed in gold, green and white and the band from the private school was dressed in red and white. There were very few reed and wind instruments and I thought that this was due to their being too expensive, but when checked out we found that the reason was that there were no new players to replace the ones who left when they graduated. The parade composition and turnout was lower than expected because many people were too tired to come of the "folklore" festivities the night before. Some people appeared to be ashamed because of the low turnout.

Lotus relates how we celebrated Christmas and New Year's: Marcello Augusto Pires do Rio Ribeiro, 15, met us in an English class at "The way" and invited us to his home at 10 P.M. Christmas eve to celebrate a Portuguese Christmas. The Christmas tree was large branch of long-needled pine decorated with tinsel and large traditional glass balls. Twenty-four people (relatives and us) sat down to a banquet at a table 12 feet long in a room 15 feet high. Since his father doesn't like Brazilian wine, all the wine was from Portugal. A huge tureen held lamb chunks marinated and cooked in wine sauce. A smaller tureen held rice cooked with raisins. One plate was filled with sliced roast lamb, an other with sliced roast (seasoned) chicken with a pile of farofa (mandioca flour fried with bacon, boiled egg chunks, green olives, etc..., Brazilian, I'm sure). One platter held thinly sliced ham with honeydew melon slices on one side and a "Portugese sweet" (yellow crinkly threads made of sugar and egg yolk) on the other. They also had a Bahian dish of "cuscus". Fresh fruit (grapes, plums, peaches, big green and purple figs, California dates, yellow raisins and dried fruits were available as well as Nozes (Walnuts) and Castanha do Para (Brazil nuts). This was topped off with walnuts cake (the first non-white cake I'd seen), cafezinho (sweetened strong coffee), and later champagne. And I thought we were going to have light refreshment! We especially enjoyed talking to an engineer uncle who spoke some English and had advised the managment of a new paper plantation near the Amazon. You can bet we slept late in the morning. By the way, Marcelo's 90-years old grandfather who cultivates a fine garden on the nearby family farm, said he was going back to Portugal to live in June.

New year's eve we were invited to "a very simple gathering" at 8 PM in the home of family of Italian extradition (Palazzo) who bottle Guarana, a soft drink flavored by Amazonian fruit. I couldn't understand their Portuguese very well and didn't know if there would be real food or not. It turned out to be a modified churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) under an awning on a sloping brick-paved back yard, next door to a small furniture factory. So there were a chunks of highly seasoned barbecued beef (to be dipped into farofa with fingers), slices of French bread, Chopps ( a light beer) or guaraná. Many people were in jeans, slacks, or short with attractive shirts or blouses and some danced to Folklorica music from a tape deck. At midnight they shook bottles of Brazilian champagne till they popped, and wished each other Happy New Year with embraces, 2 or 3 kisses, or handshakes. Then the stove on the back "porch" delivered up a baked fish, caught in nearby lake. Afterwards (1:30 A.M) we picked up Doug and Alan at Marcelo's grandmother house where we saw a banquet table with roast peru (turkey) and chocolate-filled walnut cake.

São Paulo has a number of good blacktop road running the lenght of state. The road north to Ribeirao Preto from São Paulo was being converted to a divided highway. Other roads are being improved so that-- just as in the United States one meets "Desvio" and Devagar "and "Obras" –detour, slow, and works. As in the central part of Oklahoma the dirt roads are intense red. The winter is relatively dry so the nearly all roads are passable. I have yet to discover what happens in the rainy season. Since no one on Brazil seems to know the cardinal direction one wonders how maps get made.

The majority of cars are two-door small gas-saving types such as Volkswagon and Brazilia. A comparatively large and constant traffic in passenger buses is much more evident than in the United States. Ribeirão Preto, a city about the size of Des Moines, seems to have about the average of 20 buses being boarded or discharging passengers at any time during the day. These buses look modern and comfortable with rather larger windows than their United States counterparts.

Trucks constitute almost half the traffic encountered on the main roads. Semi-trailers and trailers are seldom encountered, but the trucks do consist of 10-18 wheelers, The majority of these trucks have attractive designs painted in their wooden slat sides, The front bumper corners of these often have an ornament of chrome about the same size and height as they baton twirled by the band Drum Major with some extra embellishments of structural design along its length.

Brazilian drivers seem to have a mental telepathy of their own regarding who has right of way. Occasionally signs are of assistance- "perigo" meaning you have the right of way but watch out for cars entering, and "perigoso" meaning danger-you have to give the right of way to the guy, if you see him. The speed limit is 80 kilometers/hour which you have better adhere to if you see an oncoming driver opening and closing his fingers at you-- meaning "watch out for the police ahead". Otherwise cars may be driven at speeds up to 120 m/hr. This causes one to cringe at the sight of sign "pista sem acostomento"-literally track without support, which means no road shoulders. "Maquina na pista" (machine in the road) means road repairs are being made by machines and are bound to slow the traffic drastically. Traffic into the city of São Paulo is very heavy in the morning and out again in the evening.

City or town driving can be more nerve wracking. Those octagonal signs inscribed "PARE" (stop) seem to mean "honk your horn if you can't see any cross traffic, or stop midway across the cross street if you see another car coming" (which will serve unerringly across the nose of your car missing it by centimeters). A one way road is indicated by arrows and is generally obeyed unless no other traffic is in view.

In the city of Jaboticabal (which is hilly as is most of the countryside), bumps are deliberately placed across the streets to prevent excess speeds and accidents since excess fatalities have been encountered at those cross streets.

Buses rides were a bargain. From Jaboticabal to São Paulo was about a 7 hours ride and cost only about $7.50, presumably because of government subsidy. The rodoviária at Sao Paulo was an attractive, busy bus station of three stories and beautiful colored triangular panels filtering the sunlight. While waiting for my bus, I once counted a bus leaving every minute and a half during the noon hour. Almost all the buses were named: as Andorinah (swallow), O Paraiso (pardise), Passaro Marron (brown bird), Massaretti, Dinosauro, Danubio Azul (Blue Danube), Branganca, Diplomata, Embratur, Bufalo, Skylab, and Marco Polo III

We bought a Ford Corcel, yellow with black stripes, after four months. The standard gas there had 20% alcohol and probably needed more filtering, since the carburetor needed cleaning monthly. Vincente Pereira, in Ames but from the very campus to which we went, had cautioned me about driving in Brazil, especially about how to make left turns from the highway By turning right first and then curving back left.

 

Economy

The main agricultural economy of the region is based on sugar cane. The cane fields are being constantly burned for harvesting during 8 months of the year, frequently resulting in curly cinders raining down on the city and almost blocking the sun at times. Coffee is #2 in the economy of the general region and many trees were injured or killed by 2 unexpected freezes, perhaps to be replaced by soybeans. Oranges are next in the economy, and diversified ranching on the large fazendas with mostly zebu cattle is important.

The staple meal is rice and beans. Grade A milk is difficult to obtain, and meat, zebu especially, are fresh but tough. The popular cheeses are very bland, and we sorely missed cheddar cheese. Many tropical s are available in the marketplace, and even in black yards: papaya, banana, mangos, avocados (abacates), pineapple (abácaxi), coconut, melon, custard apple, jaca and jaboticaba, from which our city got its name. Most remarkably, they drink their avocado. Either avocado or banana makes a fruit shake of thick milk shake consistency. Temperate s were prized. Shakes include apple and they were in constant demand although they cost 25-50C apiece. Fresh peaches were a dollar apiece and a can was $1.50.

The state of São Paulo, 1/33 of the landmass of Brazil, nevertheless accounts for over 1/2 of the gross national product. The average income of 88% of all Brazilians is less than $75 per month.

Cattle are quite common in the countryside fazendas.

Brazilians are especially proud of the purebred Zebu breeds: the Nelore, white or gray cattle with straight forehead and horns; the Gir, red, black, or gray, often spotted, with rounded heads and low curving horns; Guzará, grey and black with lyre-shaped horns; Indubrasil, with enormous drooping 18" ears, a mixture of Indian breeds but maintained as a pure breed now; Red Sindhi, quite rare as yet; and even a rare herd of Santa Gertrudis from the U.S.

European type cattle generally die off rather quickly in the states from São Paulo to the North; however, there were 2 Jerseys and a Brown Swiss-Zebu cross in the University herd. Holandês are the best milk cattle available and represent Holstein-Freisian crossed with Zebu and backcrossed to the Holsteins until they are about 1/32 Zebu. This amount of mixture seems to allow the cattle to maintain themselves in good health without dying from the mysterious ailment(s) that kill off European cattle in general. Milk production of the cattle is only about half that of the United States, despite experiments with nutrition-boosting and other management practices. Aftosa (foot and mouth disease) is a constant worry for the owners.

 

Animals

We rarely encountered wild mammals in Brazil, because of the destruction of habitat. I did see one wild guinea pig on 3 different occasions, once on campus. We were told they were common in the cane fields. Sam Wilkinson of the Baptist Mission Camp told us that a wild porcupine lived in the center of a tremendous, wild bamboo clump on their place. The boys and I encountered a gray fox road-kill on a back road between Botucatú and Piraçicaba.

Of course we saw native antas (tapirs) and onças (jaguars) in zoos as well as the capivara (cabybara), the largest rodent in the world, which reaches 200 pounds. White horses, dogs and cats are much admired by the Brazilians, but are usually a pink color, from the red soil. Dogs and cats are less common than in the United States, since food for their maintenance is less available.

Caged birds are easier to maintain nutritionally and therefore often substitute for dogs and cats as pets. Parrots, of course, are very common, and the very rich had not only macaws but cockatoos, and other exotic species. Canaries and zebra finches are widely sold. But we had the greatest interest in native birds which were sold for their beauty and singing. Some of these were the passaro preto, a glossy black bird of thrush size and a beautiful singer, becoming very domestic and begging for finger preening of their head; the bigodinho (black and white); pintasilgo, (yellow with a black head), azulão (beautiful blue), coleiro (black and white and yellowish), patativa , papa capim, tico tico rei or sange de bois, and the sabiá closely related to our robin, were all caged for their singing

beauty. The cardeal, related to our cardinal, had a beautiful red head crest on a black and white body. Because it is legal to trap the males for sale, these species are disappearing from populated areas.

We ran across 81 species of birds of which we have some identification. I was especially pleased to see the tinamou, Nothura maculosa, in the wild on three occasions, once right on the Faculdade campus. We saw many lapwing on Marcelo's fazenda. Tuim, small parrotlets, were common in the Jaboticabal area. We saw small flocks of maritaca, a larger parrot, in Nuporanga. Corujas, burrowing owls, were plentiful. Anum preto and anum branco were conspicuous large cuckoos, but a related, more retiring, and larger alma de gato was seen in the Jaboticabal relic forest as well as in Caxambú, where Douglas got a picture. Nighthawk types were common, as were the Andorinho (swallows) and beija-flor (kiss-flower=hummingbird). I frequently saw pica-pau do campo (flicker). Ireré ducks were popular in good private estates and parks. We saw several privately owned aviaries and one bird completely new to me was the Alma de caboclo, Batara cinerea in Fernando's aviary in Monte Alto. João de Barro, their oven bird, not related to ours, was named for its foot-high mud nest built high in a tree which we saw on Ana's fazenda. And one walked around with us on Marcelo's fazenda. The bem-te-vi (I-see-You-well), similar to the Acadian fly catcher, was a neat and pleasant bird. We saw one familiar species, the vermilion flycatcher, a migrant from the U.S., on the Faculdade fish ponds at the beginning and end of our stay.

My greatest interest among the birds of course were the doves and the pigeons. Seven native species were encountered. Most evident were the tiny rolinhas, Columbina talpicoti. The parari, Zenaida auriculata, closely related to our mourning doves, but without a pointed tail and with a different voice, were also common. The largest pigeon was the pombo do ar, Columba picazura. It was shot frequently for food and also because it ate the newly planted soybeans. Rare doves which we saw were the Claravis pretiosa and the fogo apagou (the fire went out) also known as the Rola cascavel or rattlesnake dove, Scardafella squamata. The rufina pigeon was found frequently in aviaries. We discovered the juriti, Leptotila rufaxilla, by raising two squabs from a knee-high nest in a Eucalyptus forest that was being cut. They grew into long legged ground doves with rufous underwings. We never saw one in the wild.

Our most interesting dove experiences were with youngsters raised by hand. After a rainstorm, Victor Lemos brought us 2- and 3-day old nestlings from a wind-downed pine tree nest. I told him that since I lacked pigeon milk to give them, I couldn't raise such young doves, but I would try. Miraculously, the small grocery-store bird pellets we fed them kept them alive, although it was touch and go with the younger one, and they grew into vigorous squabs of the Zenaida auriculata species (parari). Later Douglas found a parari nest in a tree on the campus about 10 feet above ground and photographed it. Another parari nest on campus yielded two more squabs which -we raised by hand and this time I noticed that the juvenile plumage was distinctly different, reddish-laced on one and more grayish cream laced on the other. This, or course, leads me to wonder about the genetic control of such a character. Rôlinha nests were found several places on campus, one in the leaf base of a traveler's tree, and the other knee high in a clump of devil's backbone plants just outside the side door of the microbiology building. We raised these youngsters by hand, as well as a probable Columbina minuta. With these 10 doves on hand in cages inside our pantry area, imagine our surprise when a wild rôlinha walked in the door and made itself permanently at home!

Lizards, or lagartos, were very common. We saw at least 5 species. The little 4 inch geckos were common outside the house and occasionally inside, where they were welcomed for their mosquito-eating prowess. Douglas was able to record on film their drastic dark-to-light color phase changes. A brown lizard species that got to be 8-9 inches long we encountered most frequently as 4 inch specimens in our yard, and Douglas filmed one confronting two millipedes as long as he. The largest specimen of this group, which we saw, was an 18 inch (iguanid) that could move its eyes separately like a Chameleon. I photographed it on Douglas' arm.

Snakes are killed by Brazilians at the least.excuse, because many are poisonous. Our local university campus, the "Faculdade" was reported to have lost in one month 2 cows and 3 horses from the bites of the jararaca and the cascavel (rattlesnake). Three 18 inch so called jararacas were caught around the building of the Department of Microbiology, where I worked. One was given to me alive in a glass battery jar. Nevertheless, we encountered only one live snake in the wild in Brazil. This was at Ana's fathers' second fazenda near Frutal, Minas Gerais. It was a "blind" snake, very sluggish, slow-moving, and thick set. I encountered one snake, similar to a garter snake, dead on the Corrego Rico road during one of my jogging trips. Lotus and the boys got to see the snakes and spiders studied at the Institute Butantan in São Paulo, where valuable antisera are made to counteract poisonous bites.

Douglas photographed two very large horned beetles, one of which we later discovered in the Scientific American to be the sugarcane beetle. Lotus had to fight various kinds of ants in the kitchen and pantry, two of which were tiny grease and sugar ants.

The boys and I on several occasions traveled around with wide-mouthed alcohol jars and collected spiders for Herb Levi at Harvard. Since Brazil is the #2 spot in the world for poisonous spiders, this was a somewhat hazardous undertaking. Since we had done this in the United States, we had a reasonable amount of experience with their actions and had no real problems in collecting them. The prettiest spider that we encountered made 3 to 12 foot webs in the serene "Park of caters" at Caxambú, Minas Gerais. It had a 3-4 inch leg span and an elongated abdomen, which looked greenish but which was really a pretty mottling of yellow and black. This was the only species immediately recognized by Dr. Levi. [It was identified as the golden web spider.]

Pictures of lagartas and borboletas, caterpillars and butterflies, were Douglas' greatest triumph in Brazil. He spotted several from 20 feet away. Those caterpillars, which have hairs, are not to be touched, since they are usually quite toxic. Douglas showed pictures of so many species to Director Gianonni that the latter was only half joking when he accused us or bringing the slides from the United States. The spider caterpillar was fantastic, imitating the appearance of a spider.

Douglas cultured a fantastically beautiful caterpillar, found at the Baptist youth camp, growing from 11 mm to 11 cm in length. From longitudinal stripes, with overall light gray color, it changed into a beautiful Persian rug like design of white, blue, red and yellow lines on a black background. Each caterpillar as well as each segment had a different pattern. The pupae was yellow and black and so was the adult which turned out to be a sphinx moth. Its host plant was a yellow blooming bush. The moth that I remember most vividly was deep yellow and pink.

 

Plant Life

Most of the state of São Paulo was originally forested but now has been cut drastically. For example, the city of Araras, named for the beautiful large macaws, now has no wild macaws within 200 miles. There are very few relic native forests left. Preserved as a city park at the edge of Jaboticabal was one of about 7 acres, which surprised us with its enormous trees. The edge of this relic forest was often alive with large blue Morpho butterflies, although it was not the solid blue metallic-sheen species found further north and widely used for decoration. In this relic forest were trees a hundred feet tall, supporting vines whose trunks frequently reached 6-8 inches in diameter.We were led on our first tour there by Mario and Cacilda Ramos, who pointed out a large orchid plant in the trees and an armadillo hole in the ground. They had us stand under an unusual tree, which we also saw in Argentina, to feel the fine "rain" it cast down. We saw another nearby relic forest on the way to Sertaozinho, but we were never able to enter its dense growth. It was reported to have monkeys and the long-legged maned wolf.

Most of the countryside, which was not in cultivation, was planted with eucalyptus trees or pines, which were raised for fuel, construction, and especially paper making. Being short fibered, the paper was of inferior quality compared to the United States. The cardboard made of it was susceptible to fingerpunch holes. Thus, cardboard boxes from the United States were a great prize to some Brazilians.

The fauna of Brazil has not adapted to the eucaluptus forests, so they are a near-desert biologically. Mr. Siroky, a native-born Austrian, identified the cultivated pine as Pinus elliottii. a slash pine of the southern United States. Parks, campuses, hospitals, groceries and roadside plantings frequently did have interesting trees of many different species. Yellow blooming sibipiruna trees graced the front of the hospital, alternating with palms. The rubberplant trees (Hevea brasiliensis) grew very well in Brazil, to heights of 30 feet, and made dense shade. The chapeu (hat) tree also had large dense leaves, but was extremely susceptible to frost, and the two frosts we experienced, unusual to our area, left them denuded. The paina or kapok tree had a thorny, often bulbous trunk and often grew to large size. The fruits grew from upper limbs like oversized Christmas tree ornaments. On Marcelo's farm, an enormous paina tree with beautiful pink and white flowers 4-6 inches wide rained down blossoms on our head. We finally glimpsed a flock of little green tuim parrots overhead, snipping them off with their beaks. I saw a large specimen of Texas umbrella tree on the Baptist châcara. There were also two other unusual trees on the châcara. One was the faveira tree, a legume which grew quite tall and had a flattened oval seed about an inch long which fluttered down in a wing 4-6 inches long. The other was the monkey pod tree which bears a 3-4 inch long pod called "monkey's fingers." The distal end of the pod comes loose attached to an inner extension. Together they greatly resemble a wooden nail.

I sarted collecting many varieties of seeds and few fruits. One sample of these may be seen on this photograph

 

Vacations

We had a most delightful visit for 3 days between Christmas and New Year's with Rudolf Siroky in the town of Atibaia just east of Campinas, S.P. This town reputedly has one of the 3 best climates to live in in the world. Our experience there certainly cannot deny it.

We arrived in our new second-hand Corcel after a 5-hour trip from Jaboticabal—our first self-directed trip outside the city. Mr. Siroky is a pigeon fancier, raising kings, Strassers, homers, and Budapest white storked tumblers. One must be well-to-do to maintain an aviary or such domestic stocks in Brazil and Mr. Siroky evidently had plenty of money. His estate had a swimming pool, well-landscaped lawns, a very nice house, a fish pond with a native wild duck (Ireré) and a jasmine tree island, two rare German Hounds with puppies, and 2 beautiful pigeon lofts. A pigeon bathing fountain outside the lofts and the ability to herd his birds freely in the open quite impressed me.

Mr. Siroky was the only person I met in Brazil who could immediately point out the cardinal directions. He and his family made us very welcome for 3 pleasant days and 2 nights. Especially memorable was the little trip in which he conducted us to the top of Pedra Grande overlooking the city of Atibaia. The road up was severely rutted and steep, and our Corcel stalled on the final large rut, 1/2 mile from the top. Mr. Siroky shuttled us to the top in his Volkswagen. The top has a large split rock in a 50 foot high mound of dirt and rock, which seems to set upon an enormous round boulder 1/4 mile across. One could easily walk or drive off the steepening sides. Lotus and I were caught in the rain on the top while he returned to get the rest of the party, but we found a bit of shelter and I was greatly pleased to find a 2" lichen and moss "forest" covering the enormous monolith.

Another day Mr. Siroky drove us north to the town of Braganca Paulista where we visited 20 other pigeon breeders, where I got 2 beautiful closeup photos of picazuro and rufina pigeons. The town of Braganca had extremely steep streets and was the birthplace of Director Giannoni who later recognized his home street from our slide. 

 

Carnavál

Carnavál is the 3-4 day holiday that all Brazilians look forward to as the high light of the year. They spend enormous amounts of energy, anticipation, and money for this holiday, which proceeds Lent. They themselves describe the behavior of a good part of the population as "going wild." We staid Americans have considerable difficulty in comprehending the emotional release and joy, physical and mental, that the Brazilians express in dance and music at this time. It must be experienced to be believed.

Unfortunately, I was marooned all but the last night of Carnavál in the tiny frontier town of Aripuanã, MT. But my family was able to photograph the parade at Jaboticabal from the judge's stand. For the past 3 years Jaboticabal had banned the celebration of Carnavál, because it had become too wild.

I arrived in Cuiabá, the capital of the new state of Northern Mato Grosso, for the last night of Carnavál there. Tadeu got me a ticket for the stands facing the decorated side of a church on the main street. Each section of the parade would stop at this position and play, sing, and dance the Samba, especially for judging. The skill and gyrations of the often very graceful dancing was remarkable. The din of 40 drums (and a few other instruments) beating directly at you in the stands is incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it. Perhaps most impressive were the brilliance, glitter, and tremendous variety of costumes. The beauty of the Brazilian female form was nowhere more evident than in Carnavál.

 

Aripuanã

The highlight of the Brazilian trip for me was the visit to Aripuaná, in northernmost Mato Grosso, within the tropical Amazonian region. I was accompanied to this frontier research post by an animal scientist, Antonio Tadeu de Andrade and agronomist Luis Paulo Leppos. Commercial jets took us west from São Paulo to Campo Grande in Southern Mato Grosso then north to Cuiabá. In Cuiabá -we took a 6 place Cherokee north over the truly -wild, forested Amazonian region. Bulldozed gaps and burned sections appeared here and there, where commercial efforts at cattle breeding are being attempted. We flew over a Mountain range oriented east and west and curiously straight with an inner notch. The weather alternated between cloudy, rainy, and clear. We were forced down by rain for a time at the commercial cattle ranches and Tadeu noted that the introduced forage grass was being parastized by a particular insect.

After an hour we were able to resume our flight. We stopped at a remote tourist station on-the Juruema River, where we ate lunch, gassed up, and saw a little zoo containing some monkeys, some free roving parrots. I petted a hand-tamed Crax also freely roaming. We resumed our flight over the tremendous forest below and finally arrived at Aripuanã, which I can best describe as a 40-house town* with a research outpost.

*[later became a gold rush town]

Tadeu had tried to impress me with a fear of the onça (jaguar), and I found that indeed the living quarters, library and research labs were built in complexes upon 14 foot telephone pole-like stilts. Each night a goat was tethered beneath each complex to side track the onça. Since this was the wet season, the jaguars were not particularly evident. Electricity was available to the research station for 2 hour periods at morning, noon, and night, coinciding with mealtime, but plans were in progress for electrical power to be generated from the water power of the river before it went over the falls. The Foz (falls) Andorinho and the Foz Dardanelles are higher than Niagara Falls and have more water volume than Niagara. Swallows fly in by the hundreds of thousands to roost at night on the rocks and vegetation isolated by the falls.

A little zoo contained a veado (deer), 3 cabybara, anta (tapir), shoulder-striped peccary and a paca. One peccary was shot to provide meat for the station personnel. Three monkeys remained from an intended large research colony. The colony had failed from a lack of proper nutrition and management. An Englishman, Anthony Rylands, and a Swiss couple, Paul and Ingrid Roth, were the only non-Brazilians there. Anthony was studying the sagui (marmosets); the Roths were studying birds, especially parrots. They had hand-raised several species, the most beautiful being the hawk-headed parrot, which could erect at will blue and red neck feathers. Anthony and Paul took me across the river into the true forest. Paul wandered off after a new bird and Anthony showed me 2 troops of his sagui and many of the fruits and seeds, which they ate. He related many fascinating stories, including one in which he had been stung by a scorpion while in the forest, barely made it back to the river, and nearly drowned as his nervous coordination was affected. It took several months in the hospital to recover. Anthony showed me one of the buffalo which do better than most cattle in Brasil.

Dangerous wild Indians were said to be within 40 miles east and west of the station. One river had been named the 'River of Death' from their depredations. While there, I was able to run when the rain let up sufficiently and the librarian José Umberto Feitosa, #2 in charge of the station, ran with me.

Nights at the station were enlivened by chess or card games by the kerosene lamp light. The very attractive Helaine Affonso, the station secretary and Ingrid Roth provided incentive for the experimenters to shave daily.

 

Miscellany

Since we cannot write a whole book we must omit many of our adventures and observations, but we can include a section here on subjects which do not fit well elsewhere. TV is popular, some antennas being seen in the poorest areas. Three main channels were available where we were: the Rede Globo (Global network), Bandeirantes (pioneers), and Tupi. The Brazilians go by first names to such an extent that good friends may not know each others last names.

Spelling is still creative in Brazil.

Having developed some self confidence from our solo auto trip to Atiabaia, S.P., we also journeyed solo to Caxambú, M.G. for a biochemistry meeting in this renowned mountainous resort. Our hotel faced a beautiful park with 12 natural springs of mineral water. Each was named and had its own unique composition of minerals and was so labeled. The park had many species of trees and flowers, wild birds, spiders, and caterpillars. A beautiful 4" spider with a greenish (black and yellow) elongated abdomen built 12' webs! We climbed a small mountain overlooking the city for excellent views of the park with its lake, and the surrounding country. The top has a Christ-figure with a concrete room at the base. I started to look in and discovered an Africanized bee hive. I moved smoothly but hurriedly out of the way, but got stung once on the ear before I could get far enough away.

We continued on holiday to the world famous Rio de Janeiro, taking a modest room 3 blocks from the famous Copacabana beach. The city surprised us. It truly deserves its fame. It is a city interspersed among mountain peaks of great rocks with beautiful tropical forests on the slopes. Tunnels are hewn out of the rock for traffic flow. The Botanical Gardens had labeled plants, but a sudden rain and a stalled car left us only a short time there. Most impressive were the very old and very tall palm trees lining the path.

Our visit was in the off tourist season, so we saw only a few thousand beach girls and boys the first day. The weather turned stormy, and we nearly had the beach to ourselves later. Copacabana is over 4 kilometers long. I ran its length and back as other joggers did. Its eastern continuation is called Leme beach. Ipanema beach is just west of Copacabana around a great rock.

I was impressed by the sidewalks at night; Volkswagens were parked 3 to 5 deep along the whole length for blocks and blocks.

The trip via two cable cars to Urea Rock, then higher to Pão do Axucar (sugar loaf) from "praia vermelho" (red beach) was a highlight of our visit. We were escorted by Miriam*s sister Semiramis who lived in Rio, as did her father, a retired physician. There was a small zoo on top of sugar loaf and a souvenir shop. Urea had a restaurant. The view was fabulous including the ocean, the 3rd longest bridge in the world, Niteroi City, Corcovado mountain, and the airport Santos Dumont, named after the Brazilian who flew an airplane before the Wright brothers, according to Brazilians.

Returning from Rio we followed the coast, and visited a town or two with ancient architecture. A highway police car stopped us at dusk and very politely informed us that our backlights were out. Luckily we were near a town. The police led the way to a garage that could fix the lights (12 minutes time!) We then crossed the high rise mountains inland at dark. Douglas was driving now and we found hairpin curves without guard rails frequently. The worst scare was coming upon a place where our side of the road had slumped out completely, and you couldn't tell it until you were right there. Inland again wasn't so bad. However, gas stations were closed after 6 PM and we arrived home about midnight on fumes.

Before narrating the final episode, I find that this account of some of our Brazilian "adventures" from August 1979-1980 omits persons in the academic area. Some of the people I was closest to and saw most often are either not mentioned or only briefly so. I regret this, since they were invariably polite and very often helpful beyond the usual expectations. I hope that they will forgive me, for I do not believe that the academic efforts belong in this account.

 

TWO DAYS IN MANAUS

We arrived by jet from Sab Paulo in the early afternoon. The taxi driver, an Indian, literally had to be kicked awake to take us to the hotel. He tried hard to get us to go to 2 other hotels, even driving us there first. But Lotus was firm and we went to the Hotel Internacional. It was hot and humid. We turned on the air conditioners and went out to see the waterfront. We bought a few souvenirs, took a few pictures and arranged for a river trip with Selvatur. Lotus couldn't go because the vibrations might loosen her recently attached retina. There were strong motor vibrations transmitted through the decking. The trip was marvelous. But I'm getting ahead of the events.

Lotus and I went to the Museo dos Indies, a second story linear series of rooms, run by the Silesian missionaries next to a church. The museum was interesting with maps, pictures, many artifacts and reconstructions. The fifth room was a sales room for souvenirs and the prices were reasonable. Many drawings on bark fiber, feathered head ornaments, crude rubber figures, rattles, etc. were available. We worried about the feathers possibly being from endangered species, and about seeds not being allowed into the U.S. and bought minimally from these selections. It seemed more than half the offerings had red, black, brown, or mixtures of seeds attached to the items.

To start the next day we had the hotel breakfast consisting of orange juice (or cashew juice), cheese, bananas, melon, toast, butter, and jelly, and coffee with hot milk. Then we waited for the limousine service to take us to the dock...and waited... and waited. Not unexpectedly (to me) we ended up walking. It was only four blocks. We exchanged our trip purchase ticket for the Selvatur line tickets, then walked to the lunch area. We got on a boat that could hold about 100-150 persons, but there were only about 40-50. We cruised the Rio Negro with its dark brown = blackish water to an island (large) that had not only channels but also a lake within it. The Rio Negro is about 2 miles wide in this main channel, and averages 35 meters deep! I was astounded to learn that 66% of all the fresh water in the world is in the Amazonian drainage system! This was confirmed in a book in English that we found in Ames, Iowa.

The lake had a floating hotel, dining-dancing salon, swimming pool, and a dozen Indians selling souvenirs. We took an early lunch, sandwiches and drinks, then got into smallish "boats"(2 or 3 people per seat and seating about 20) with a gunwale about 6 inches above water (until someone rocked the boat when imminent seepage of water into the boat was threatened, but somehow never came about). Then two such large canoes took our party up a small channel in the island. The forest closed in on one side and sometimes both sides. The light diminished so that our film was inadequate for pictures. By the time I had finished one roll and switched to fast (400) film, we were back in full daylight. While we were in the obscured jungle, we saw "wood ibises" with blue faces, dark crest, cream front and light gray backs--really beautiful birds.

We saw many other birds on this small boat trip: jacanas, kingfishers, urubú (vultures), hawks, yellow bottomed fly-catchers (bem-te-vi).... We saw a turtle and a small snake. But the highlight .of the trip was the catch of a large fish with orange-red scales on its sides. A fisherman dived into the shallow water toward the end of a taut 100 meter nylon line (at least 3 mm thick). He brought up a fish which was as long as he was and held its mouth open about 30 cm wide. Then he manhandled it into the canoe showing its sides with lacings of orange-red (pirarucu), Shortly thereafter we arrived at a river hut whose occupants demonstrated two big snakes nearly 3 meters long, and one dead and one live alligator. More souvenirs were on sale. A little further along we docked at the water's edge and walked perhaps 15 meters to a small lake with a half size boat holding perhaps 10-12 people. On it we traveled a few meters at a time seeing jumping fish 1-5 cm long, red pod trees without leaves, and the giant water lily of the Amazon with one blossom open. It's round pan-like, rimmed leaves reach more than 5 feet in diameter.

On return to the floating hotel-restaurant we saw a giant fish surface three times on our starboard bow. it was at least 8 feet long (nearly 3 meters), and I thought at first that it was an alligator. We then had our dinner previously ordered. I had the native fish dinner, which was the best tasting fish that I've had in 20 years.

After plenty of time for buying souvenirs, we got on a return boat big enough for 500 people. We met the "encounter of waters": the black of the Rio Negro and the muddy brown of the Solimões. Only then does it become the Amazon. The colors stay separate and unique for 500 kilometers. One current runs at 6 km per hour and the other at 3 km per hour. There were curious interfingerings of the water colors, but no visible mixture! Then an hour's trip brought us back to Manaus. I hunted for Lotus in the shopping center, but couldn't find her.

I did find a shop of BRAZILIAN things—all other shops being filled with Japanese, German, Italian, French, or U.S. goods. This unique shop was only half a block from our hotel. It was the Casa de Beija-flor (house of the humming bird) and was more or less what we had been looking for all over Brasil. It has books, maps, Indian artifacts, rubber figures of native animals, and oil paintings of natural scenes. We spend perhaps Cr 4,000 there. Three of our purchases were oil paintings of birds and natural scenes by Jose Ribeiro. We hurriedly bought a new suitcase to hold two paintings (one was rolled up) plus other souvenirs and returned to the hotel to pack.

We got no sleep, and we also missed dinner. At the airport an English couple with two children was trying to get out of Brasil. Their visa had not been made out correctly by their university. They were denied permission to leave the night previously, and the night we left (at 2 AM). He had been teaching Aeronautical Engineering for a year in Rio Grande do Sul.

Going through customs in Florida was terrible. We stayed in line for 2 hours moving 30 feet (9 meters) while others rushed to the head of new lines or crowded in ahead of us. Finally Douglas got to the head of a new line and we moved in with him. We hurriedly unlocked all 5 suitcases and Lotus showed them some fruit from Manaus with the picture and identification. They were so impressed that they let us keep the and didn't look in our baggage at all. But although we had scheduled 5 hours between arrival in Miami and the flight to Chicago, we barely made the flight.

 

Addenda by Lotus:

The city we lived in, Jaboticabal, S.P., was comparable in size (70,000) -to our home city of Ames, Iowa, although the business district was more the size of Story City. Sometimes we caught ourselves saying "We've got to go to Des Moines to find that item", because nearby Ribeiro Preto served the same function; it was also about an hour away and, at the same 250,000 population as Des Moines afforded a wider variety of merchandise than our home city. Historically, Ribeirao Preto had been the railhead to the interior of São Paulo state and to parts of Minas Gerais, Goias, and Mato Grosso, manufactured rolling stock, and was the center of a rich coffee-growing district.

Wilmer was invited to Brazil for a year to set up an animal blood-grouping laboratory at a branch of the National University of the State of São Paulo, more specifically the Faculdade (College) of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences named after Julio de Mesquita Filho. This eleven year old branch was located on a campus adjacent to the city of Jaboticabal, about 270 miles inland from the city of São Paulo, which sits astride the Tropic of Capricorn. At an elevation of 188? feet, our city was much cooler than coastal cities and the heat was well tolerated by Wilmer, who grew up in Oklahoma, but not by myself (from Oregon) and the boys. We could go to the Faculty Club just 3 doors from our house to cool off in a small swimming pool with a tropical hut and young palm trees beside it. Believe it or not, it was too cool to swim 2-3 months of the year.

Unfortunately, eye trouble kept me out another 3 months. Beginning in January I had trouble with spots in the left eye and in June, part of the retina of the right eye detached and I had to go to Campinas to an excellent eye clinic for cryosurgery. I had to pack to come home to the U.S. under instructions not to bend my head over, for fear the retina might detach again. Have you ever tried packing 15 boxes without bending your head? We received very welcome help from the Free Baptist missionaries Jim and Shirley Combs that last morning while the faculty van waited outside.

While Lotus was in the hospital, the boys and I tooka short trip to nearby Serra Negra, famous for its leather industry. We can picture a purse from there.

Both our sons, Alan, a sophomore at Ames High School, and Douglas, a June graduate, accompanied us and attended the local public high school in order to learn the language and to get acquainted with people their own age. Since the school year started in late February, broke for a winter vacation during July, and resumed in August through November, they entered school after the 2nd session had begun. Alan continued during the first half of their next year and developed the best accent. Douglas, however, stopped school after one semester and devoted more time to photography and working in Wilmer's laboratory. Both enjoyed playing soccer, the most popular sport there, and Douglas sometimes went to the regional games (and took pictures) at the invitation of Silvana Faria's father, a journalist.

We returned to the U.S. in mid August, 1979 and despite all our interesting adventures, and the friendly helpful people in Brazil, we were deeply grateful to be back on American soil, in a culture whose rules we knew and whose language we spoke. 

 

A visit With A Pigeon Fancier In Brazil

By Wilmer J. Miller, Ames, Iowa

 

Following is an excerpt of the talk, illustrated with color slides, by Dr. Miller at the American Pigeon Fanciers' Council meeting, July 25, 1980, Ramada Airport Inn, St. Louis. Dr. Miller spent a year in Brazil as part of an ongoing program of exporting U.S. agricultural technology to foreign countries.

My family and I were fortunate to be able to spend a year in Brazil from August 1978 to August 1979. My way was paid by the Universidade Estadual do São Paulo (UNESP) at Jaboticabal. S.P., a city of 70,000 people. It was a wonderful opportunity to check out the doves and pigeons, wild and domestic in that country. Goodwin's book on pigeons and doves of the world often had commented on the food, nesting habits and the like of the Brazilian species with the word "no information". We couldn't change this much because just getting oriented took nearly all year with this and many other hobbies as a sideline to setting up a cattle blood typing laboratory, which was supposed to be my business there.

I can't spend much time on the red tape, culture shock, Atahualpa's revenge, learning to eat, to give baksheesh (tips) appropriately, etc. Americans in Latin America are constantly occupied by such considerations.

Before leaving the USA, I had seen an article in the American Pigeon Journal with a picture by Dr. Perseu Matias, the president of the Brazilian pigeon breeders association. He lives in Goias, Brazil. After I wrote to him, he invited me to visit and stay overnight. But I didn't manage to get to that part of Brazil. He also suggested that I write a breeder closer to me in Atibaia, S.P., Rudolf Siroky. Mr. Siroky invited me and my family to stay in his house between Christmas and New Year's. We were there three days and had a delightful time. I had learned some Portuguese, and he and my wife Lotus could converse even better in German. Atibaia is about an hour's drive from São Paulo, the third largest city in the world. It has a climate reputed to be among the best three spots in the world. It certainly was nice while we were there, so I won't dispute the claim.

Let me disabuse you of one misconception you may harbor. The only people in Brazil who can afford to keep pigeons in good condition arc the small minority of well to do or rich. Therefore, there are not many pigeon breeders in Brazil. We were told that 88 per cent of the Brazilians earn less than the minimum wage, which was about $75 per month while we were there. (Inflation went from about 40 per cent in 1978 to near 80 per cent in 1979.)

We did get around to some other places, but let's start with our visit to Siroky's. He bred Homers, Kings, Rollers and Strassers. His lofts were beautiful and his birds very well cared for. He could herd them on foot to and from an outside water fountain where they loved to bathe. He told me of a Homer which lost its way from Holland and turned up in Brazil. He showed me a recessive red Strasser that had started turning white at 5 years of age. Dr. Hollander tells me that recessive red has this tendency (under perhaps nutritional stress?), although it is not common.

Siroky took us to Braganca Paulista, a city a half hour to the north of Atibaia to visit another breeder. He had many more breeds and species than Siroky, but in less rich surroundings. He had rufous and picazuro pigeons, diamond and ring neck doves and fogo apagou (fire went out) doves. Back in Jaboticabal and a nearby city, Monte Alto, I found three people with aviaries keeping native pigeons, doves and other species. One commercial bird dealer lived in Jaboticabal.....

We were given two squabs that fell out of a tree in a rainstorm by Victor Lemos, the local genetics teacher. They were only two and three days old. So I told him that I couldn't raise them since I didn't have any pigeon milk and they were too young. I had always thought that the squabs had to be 6-8 days old to make it on regular feed. Imagine our surprise when these squabs lived, thanks to my and my boy's frequent hand feeding using the commercial cage bird pellets they have there. These squabs grew into the eared dove, Zenaida auriculata, or parari, which looks very similar to our mourning dove, but it lacks the pointed tail and has a different voice.

The most common dove there was the little rolinha, Columbina talpacoti. We raised six of these by hand. Two were from a nest head high in a Traveler's tree (originally native to Madagascar), two were from a nest 30 inches above the ground in clump of Devil's Backbone plant by the west door of my laboratory building, and two were from low in a small tree. Another wild young picui walked in our door and stayed with our birds. My son Douglas found a dove nest just above knee high in a vine on a Eucalypus tree in a eucalypt forest (a commonly introduced tree from Australia, used for wood and paper) which was a block from our house on the outskirts of town. We hand-raised two squabs from that nest and they turned into a long legged ground dove, Leptotila rufaxilla, or gray-fronted dove. But I never saw this species in the wild! I did see also the rufous pigeon, Columba cayenensis (?) about Jaboticabal as well as Columba picazuro, pombo do ar, a rather large pigeon which is frequently shot and eaten.

Feral domestic pigeons were in some parks of São Paulo; and the Federal capital, Brasilia, has a special tower just for pigeons, most of which were white. Rio de Janeiro had feral pigeons at the famous Copacabana beach and Praia Vermelha with lighter colors predominating.

Four photographs accompanied this article. (coming soon!!!!!)

Click here for more pictures

 

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