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Archive for October 27, 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 – Santiago to Mata

The first stop today (S1460) was at the type locality of Parodia stockingeri where it grew alongside the much larger P. linkii and a very large form of Frailea pumila

S1461 took us along the BR-287 Santiago towards Unistalda where on flat rock outcrops to the left of the road we found Frailea pumila and Parodia glaucina. I’m not sure who was frightened the most, me or the nightjar that I disturbed and that suddenly flew up as I walked unknowingly into it’s comfort zone, only a few feet away. It had finally decided to no longer rely on its excellent camouflage and make its escape. Lucky for the bird that I managed a few shots with my camera rather than with a shotgun.

S1462, southeast of Santiago on the BR 287 we turned right to Nova Esperança and then followed a track towards the gruta Nossa Senhora de Fátima where we found Parodia muricata, P. oxycostata and P. glaucina as well as the usual Cereus hildmannianus.

S1463 was for pictures taken just up the road from the last stop at gruta Nossa Senhora de Fátima. A tourist centre if you like, but we were the only people there, from which you could make a walk through some caves and to a waterfall, in reasonable flow due to recent rains. John seemed to have designed his own trip but eventually rejoined us at the snack bar where we had been enjoying a few Coca Colas and beers. As we drove out, we passed the nearby settlement with a church far larger than the population would seem to justify and, at the other side of town a smallish cemetery again with a ‘street’ of very ornate graves, suggesting a local wealth again greater than would be suggested by what we had seen.

Some 12 km north of Jaguari along the road BR-287 we stopped at some sandstone hills to the left of the road (S1464) where among many shrubs and pine trees we found Parodia muricata growing in sand and pine needles.

We arrived in Mata, a nice village best known for the near by petrified forest. However, these fossil tree remains are so common here that they were used everywhere, as street curbs and the building of low walls and numerous ornamental monuments. Well worth a picture which are filed as S1465. We spotted a cute church down a side street, again surrounded by steps and a small monument made of petrified tree trunks. Opposite the church was a hotel and we suggested that Marlon should enquire as to price and availability. And so we had some very nice comfortable rooms in a very picturesque setting.

I went for a stroll to take some more pictures, of an old steam engine, turned monument outside the church. Plates on the machine indicated that it had been built by Heinrich Lanz from Mannheim, Germany in 1923 and we could notice many German influences in architecture and in the faces of the inhabitants. During dinner, a pre-wedding feast passed the hotel. All participants were dressed up in Bavarian costumes as the groom and bride introduced themselves and their intention to get married to the local community.

Cactus wise, the church had a huge tree-like Opuntia ficus-indica growing by the side and past it, an equally large monstrose plant of Cereus hildmannianus