As you’ll recall, yesterday we dreamt up a wonderful plan to see Parodia claviceps today by boat and take lots of pictures, this time from close up.
The day started great. When I got up at 6:30 and opened the doors to my balcony the sun was shining on the cloud that hang in the valley, just as it had done yesterday. Better take a long sleeved shirt in case of sun burn on the water!
During breakfast, the sun disappeared behind some clouds, but in previous mornings this had burnt away quickly. At 8:00 our captain Renato Mattoso, wearing a snazzy bright red jacket with Farmacia Jacui emblazoned on it, arrived in an old pickup truck and a motor boat on a trailer. He shook us warmly by the hand and directed a flood of Portuguese at me before Marlon told him that he was the only member of the party that understood that language. As we were visitors to the area, Renato was sure that we would be very interested in seeing his collection of Agate stones. He had seen the ones that we had collected in the car and had judged them to be rubbish. So a quick visit to his home where Marlon explained the problems of weight allowances and international air travel.
We finally we were on the road and arrived after the usual bumpy ride at the Barragem Itaúba, S1505 of last Sunday, where Renato had a chat with the dam’s security guard about keeping an eye on our cars while we were away. So we thought. After a considerable while, Renato returned and even Cliff & I understood that there was a problem. Yesterday, Renato had phoned a friend, a high ranking local official with the Electricity Board that was responsible for the dam and the lakes, and had obtained permission to launch his boat at the dam. It seemed that the (now ex-?) friend forgot to inform the security guard on duty. They had tried to contact said friend, but to no avail.
It started to rain.
More to-ing and fro-ing by Renato between the trailer + boat and the guard. Eventually, with the rain now quite persistent, Renato told us that the guard had told him of an alternative location to launch to boat. What he could not see did not matter. It took a while for Renato to find the turning onto a rarely used track that seemed doubtfully accessible by car. We walked down the track for a quick inspection and found it flooded. The three of us quickly came to the same conclusion: today’s plan was not going to happen and there was no time for another day here. Through Marlon we thanked him politely for his efforts, understood that it was not his fault and Marlon took his contact details for when he was next visiting the area next time. The pictures for this drama are recorded as S1512.
So, much earlier than planned we set off for Lajeado. As we drove south, we crossed the bridge over the Rio Jacuizinho, last Sunday’s S1507. It was really raining hard now and the weather seemed to have set in for the day.
After a while, another bridge, and again with steep cliffs, visible from the bridge but impossible to get to. I poked my camera & zoom lens out from underneath the hood of my waterproofs and photographed all the exposed rock faces. (S1513). Tonight in the hotel, I can confirm that there were cacti growing on these cliffs too, most likely P. claviceps.
I promised you close up pictures of P. claviceps and I can deliver. Lots of plants of HU16, the original type locality, and of HU309, another near by location. Some of the plants are in flower.
How did I manage this? We arrived early at Lajeado and Marlon made a phone call with the result that we drove on to Imigrante and another visit to the nursery of Kurt Ingo Horst. There his father’s original plants were growing as seed factories from which he grows his plants and exports seed. Still interested in the pictures? I bet not.
Kurt Ingo recommended a hotel in the nearby village of Daltro Filho that is just amazing. It turns out that the place a working monastery with Franciscan monks. We have a ‘cell’ each and the shared toilet and shower facilities are marked ‘Ela’ i.e. ladies. We understand that the place was built in the 1940s by Dutch monks. It has some amazing plants growing in the gardens including monstrose Cereus hildmannianus and trees laden with Rhipsalis sp.
A stroll into the village and we discovered a small bar, adjacent to the supermarket. An evening of beers and samples of the owners home made firewater (distilled orange and lemon juice!) came to R$6 each. Back at the monastery I saw fireflies in action for the first time in my life – amazing. Just to make it even better, the hill opposite the hotel has a steep cliff face with the correct exposure to sun – Kurt Ingo tells us that it’s covered in P. haselbergii. We believe them, having plenty of pictures of other locations already. Nice thought though!
Angie will remember the monastery because we commented on the strange building on the hill when we turned round in front of it when we took a wrong turn on the way to the airport when we dropped her off for her flight home.
By the way – it has stopped raining.
Life continues to be amazing!