National Geographic : 1963 Jan
(C) NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY School children on a nature walk visit the Mello Leitao Muse um of Biology, named by Dr. Ruschi for his teacher. The natural ist points out birds, orchids, and (overhead) a flowering cassia tree. 84 wrote: 'Unfortunately very little is known about the life history of these birds,' I determined to study hummingbirds." We were driving fast, high above the bed of a mountain tor rent that dashed over rocky out croppings. Ruschi flicked his thumb at the high slope on our left. "See that?" I had caught only a flash of magenta. "Cleistes macrantha,a ground orchid." As I came to know Ruschi better, I found that he shared the gift of all great naturalists: nearly total observation. "Of the 15,000-odd known spe cies of orchids, we have 3,000 here in Brazil," Ruschi continued, "and this little State of Espirito Santo has 800 of them, with many more, I am certain, still to be discovered. In my orchid period I used to stay in the forest for 15 days at a time, collecting orchids and bromeliads. I would come back to town with great bundles of plants on my back. The townspeople made fun of me; they called me o verdureiro -'the vegetable vendor.' "As for hummingbirds, though Espirito Santo is one of our small est states, we have 34 of the 80 odd species found in Brazil." As we neared Santa Teresa, I smelled the resinous scent of fresh-cut timber. Streamside saw mills operated by waterwheels whined as they bit into great logs of hardwood. The slopes that rose on both sides of us had been most ly cleared, but dark green rectan gles of virgin timber still stood on the higher ridges. Espirito Santo's forests furnish 500 kinds of woods, of which about twenty are ex ported from the state. Santa Teresa, at 2,200 feet above the sea, is a town of about 2,000 people who live in red tiled, earthen-walled houses lining streets paved with rectangular stone block. We stopped at a small cafe to drink some of the superlative coffee of the district. Everyone who entered hailed my companion as "Gutti," the dimin utive of Augusto.