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Archive for November 23, 2009

Monday, 23 November – Diamantina to Itamarandiba and back

The best laid plans of mice and men …. often come a cropper.

Today we were moving on from Diamantina to use Itamarandiba (that I have great problems with to pronounce, especially after a couple of beers!) as a jump of point to see Uebelmannia gummifera and U. gummifera ssp meninensis and possibly fa rubra in habitat.

Google Maps had told me how to get to Itamarandiba, but …. the safe, faster long way round – 173 km in total. We drove into town and looked for hotels while at the same time looking for the way out towards Pedra Menina and Penha de França which were close to the locations for the above cacti. In our search for the way out of town we came across two hotels and one Pousada (over the petrol station on the edge of town) None of them seemed to have internet facilities which we needed to finalise our plans to reach the Uebelmannia populations. We agreed to focus on our search out of town towards our target area, then look for the nearest hotel.

As we have mentioned before, the success of finding the plants you want to see lies all in the preparation that you put in before – and we had not.

We found the track that according to my woefully inadequate GPS system seemed to be heading in the right direction. We got so wrapped up in this search that we forgot about returning to town. We decided to persist with this quest as a scouting mission. Earlier today I had spotted a sign for a hotel in Couto de Magalhaes, along the main road, near to where the track that we were following would join it.  Inspection of the hotel resulted in a thumbs down. Although we did not go in to ask, it did not look to have internet facilities and certainly did not advertise it, if it did.

We were only 31 km from the hotel in Diamantina where we had a wonderful stay for the last 8 days, so decided to retreat to there. A bit of putting today’s GPS waypoints into Google Earth gave us a clear idea of where we had been and how close (14 km) we had been to one of these Uebelmannia sites. It seemed a much more practical idea to see these sites from Diamantina, so that is the plan for the next couple of days.

Raphael was very pleased to see us back so soon. He also told us in his best English that a lady would be at the hotel bar tonight who could speak both Portuguese and English, to help us overcome the language barriers.

The lady in question turned out to be Annick, originally from Antwerp, Belgium, who had been living in Brazil for some thirty years. The three of us exchanged summarised life histories and we were now able to amaze our Brazilian audience with what we had done today, what we had been doing and what we were planning to do.

Annick has been added to the number of people who are aware of this blog and, who knows, may drop in unexpected one September at ELK (Europese Landen Konferentie) in the  Duinse Polder, Blankenberge; Europe’s prime cactus festival.

Tune in tomorrow to check if the plans hatched tonight actually work out.

This was a cactus free day, so no pictures to post.