- 26 Sept. 1912
Passa Quatro | Minas Geraes
1912 Sept 26
My very dear Mother
I was very glad to have your letter of Sept 5, which reached me here yesterday afternoon. It was a long time to be without news of you. We spent Friday & Saturday last week pretty quietly in Rio; our baggage (instruments) at last departed on Friday midnight. We left at 9∙30 p.m. on the São Paulo express for Cruxeiro with Lee and Worthington; it was a very comfortable train and we reached Cruxeiro at 2∙30 a.m. Our plan was to sleep in the waiting room and superintend the transfer of the instruments to the narrow-guage† line as soon as it was light; but on arrival we found the instruments had only got a little way and would not reach Cruxeiro until the next day. The waiting room was rather crowded, so I slept very comfortably on my trunk on the platform. We caused much amusement to the porters.
We breakfasted off black coffee, bread and bananas; and Davidson & I had a good walk. It was rather cold cloudy weather, but the country was very wild & beautiful. We left Cruxeiro by a goods train (on to which however they put a saloon car for our benefit). It took nearly 3 hours to do the 20 miles to Passa Quatro, but there was a steep climb all the way. We wound up a very remarkably engineered track and it was a most enjoyable journey with splendid mountains all round.
At Passa Quatro we have a clean and comfortable inn kept by M. Rénier who is in charge of the government meteorological station here. He and his family take meals with us. The other occupants of the inn are de Souza and his wife who is (until Morize arrives) in charge of the Brazilian party’s arrangements; and Stephanik†, and his assistant, who form an official French expedition sent by the Bureau des Longitudes. They are all very nice people; but we very much dislike Lee and Worthington (especially the latter) and it is hard work to avoid a regular rumpus.
Our eclipse camps are about a mile away at a Fazenda near the railway. This site seems a very good one though it is rather surrounded by hills. Since the first day we have had splendid weather—clear blue skies with hot sun but cold in the shade and freezing at night. There are no mosquitoes snakes bugs or cockroaches so far. The Brazilian butterflies are very fine; but they are not very numerous as it is too early for them. I have seen some very large ones.
We have a special engine on which we go to and fro to the Fazenda. It takes us down at 8 am, brings us back to déjeuner at 11; takes us down again at 1 and brings us back at 6. The meals are quite good but rather French in style—all sorts of little meat courses. We have various weird vegetables and concoctions—no black beans as yet. One speciality here is fruit-cheeses, which we have at lunch every day.
We started the building of the piers for the instruments on Monday and they were ready for use today. Our baggage turned up on Monday night and was dumped by the side of the railway opposite the Fazenda. It took us practically all Tuesday afternoon to convey it (in bullock carts drawn by 6 oxen) to the actual field of operations; and it was pretty heavy work loading the carts and unloading them.
These last two days we have been hard at it, erecting huts and getting out a few instruments. I daresay it will be a week before we can slacken off our efforts. We have one boy engaged to assist us but he is not very much use.
The Argentine & Chilean expeditions were going to Christina about 50 miles further on. The former (Perrine & his 3 assistants) came to dinner with us at our hotel in Rio on the Thursday evening and we had a very jolly time I hope to have time to visit their camp at Christina before the eclipse.
I find my helmet very useful but have not worn my drill suit. It is really wonderfully cool weather and one could hardly imagine we are in the tropics. The country here is lovely.
With very dear love to both
ever your affectionate son
I hope Winnie had a good trip.
Numbered ‘6’ at the head in pencil.