Saturday, 14 November – Lagoa Santa to Diamantina
A bit of re-packing, a visit to the Supermarket and we were on our way to Diamantina. There was no real expectation to see cacti, but anyone we saw would be a bonus. Initially the road was a splendid motorway – until we discovered that we were heading south instead of north – ooops! We found our way out of Lagoa Santa, this time heading in the right direction, but it took some time before we saw indications that we were on the right road. Street signs are still somewhat of a luxury I guess.
We made a scenic stop (S1516) as the road climbed steeply into the Serra do Cipó. The name suggested that we’d be seeing lots of Cipocereus, but none were spotted – we did not look very far – just alongside the road. We made some more short stops along the road up, still all filed as S1516. This included some pictures of a large statue of a man sitting in the field at Cachoeira do Capivara. No cacti were seen or photographed, but we did snap some field flowers, including a nice Orchid and our first Eriocaulaceae of the trip.
S1517 was for a Rhipsalis sp. (?) or an Epiphylum sp.? and nothing else, while S1518 was for a series of trees that stood out from a distance as their glaucus – silvery leaves stood out in sharp contrast with other plants in this area. No idea for a name, but plenty to research once I’m back at home for summer.
S1518 was for sightseeing in Diamantina – pictures of the well maintained Portuguese colonial houses, offices and churches that brought back many happy memories of my visit here in 1999. But a lot had changed. There was a lot more emphasis on tourism – lots of signs spoiling the fronts of buildings, lots of expensive looking hotels and pousadas and hotels, both in the centre of town and on the outskirts. Lots of noisy bars full of youngsters. This in a town where 10 years ago we struggled to buy some postcards that were not sepia prints and where the nightlife consisted of meals in one or two restaurants or a hamburger on the market square. Also a lot more police of various branches in various uniforms, the lady officers looking particularly attractive in their spray-on kit.
We found a nice hotel to the south on the outskirts of town and decided that this was easier to get out and back to than the hotels in town, particularly if we should have any rain – in 1999 Brian’s 4×4 struggled on the very smooth old stone slabbed streets, much too steep in wet weather.
More of the hotel at http://www.hotelestilodeminas.com.br/
We were aware that today we passed a number of Uebelmannia locations – the Datas sites, but wanted to find a hotel before getting side tracked by cactus explorations, so tomorrow we go back some 65 km to the most southern U. pectinifera site.