In this episode of we are joined by the historian Dr. Gregg Bocketti (Transylvania University) in a discussion on the cultural and political conditions of South America when Charles Darwin set shore in Brazil and surrounding territories in the 1830's. In 1831, a year before Darwin was to arrive in Rio de Janerio, the emperor Don Pedro I decided to return to Portugal to help his daughter reclaim the throne of Portugal and left behind his 5 year old son Don Pedro II to be regent of the Kingdom of Brazil. Because of his weak regency and lacking of ruling control, local strongmen rose in power and resolved their disputes through local civil wars. Pedro II at around 11 years of age. Wikipedia Gregg vividly described the diverse social and cultural life Darwin would have encountered in in Rio de Janerio. At the time that Darwin visited Brazil it was still a country based upon a slave economy, which is clearly evident in the painting below that was created around the time Darwin was visiting the city. John Steinmann, a Swiss artist, lived in Rio de Janeiro between 1825 and 1833. Gregg spoke about the horrific conditions that the slaves had to endure and the various roles slaves played in the Brazilian economy. One of the interesting aspects of slavery in Brazil was that some slaves took on trades and technical trade positions and were able to work on the side to make extra money for themselves which could be used to purchase their freedom. Painting by French painter Jean-Baptiste Debret Follow this link to a story on NPR that gives a vivid account of slavery in Brazil and how they were one of the last countries in the Americas to abolish slavery. http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/11/12/244563532/photos-reveal-harsh-detail-of-brazils-history-with-slavery Darwin spent a time exploring the countryside of Brazil, Argentina and Chile and on some of those expeditions he would be guided by the local cowboys known as gauchos. Darwin was impressed with the gauchos riding ability and skill in capturing animals with the bolas, a set of heavy balls affixed to the end of ropes and twirled and thrown to entangle the legs of rheas, guanacos or any other small prey they were hunting.