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We had really enjoyed our time around Pedra Azul but once again, time had come to move on.

You’ll remember (or may be not) that on Wednesday we followed Marlon’s instruction to find a track that I thought would lead us to a wonder 1999 stop, but that this track had now all but grown over. I was going to recheck my data, but Marlon beat me to it, advising that the distance he had provided to the turning was actually from the town, not from BR 116. We had more or less come to the same conclusion and had earmarked three tracks for further investigation. It turned out that one of them was indeed the right track and Marlon’s email saved us driving up two duds (or prevented us from finding endless new populations? 🙂

The location was exactly as I remembered it – but wetter. The forecast was temperatures of 29 C and more thunderstorms and they were building already. The track continued over the granite rocks and into the forest so we decided to continue. A few km farther along we found another, very similar site and again all the plants expected were readily seen as we drove through. We continued until a light drizzle started and we reached a gate. A sign surely that we should go back and look at these two locations in more detail.

S1567 was the ‘new’ stop. A gentle sloping granite rock face to the left, quite a steeper one coming down from the right – too steep to climb. Marling this location on Google Earth reveals this to be Marlon’s stop Ettax, what ever that means, so not a new startling discovery after all. The purpose of today was to find one of my favourite 99 stops and anything else was a bonus. We had seen all the plants already, had plenty of good photos, so for me this was just a nice relaxed photography day. For the first time my ‘spare’ camera came out of the bag so that I could vary perspective of the pics by using the 11-18 mm zoom lens – an excellent wide angle range. At home I never seem to find the time or the right subject to try out this end of the range. My pics so far have been taken with an 18-200 mm lens and my eyes and brain have grown accustomed to ‘seeing’ a potential shot the way that the lens sees it. Changing the lens is actually quite strange as you are seeing everything ‘differently.’ More practice and the eyes / brain will hopefully extend to handle the full 11-200 mm range.

S1567 gave us Coleocephalocereus aureus, Pilosocereus multicostatus, Euphorbia attastoma, Orthophytum sp., Tacinga inamoena, Brasilicereus phaeacanthus, Ceiba jasminodorus, Ceiba jasminodorus, Tillandsia sp. and, yes, water lilies! (in a small puddle that must remain wet all year round). Of course, as with all other stops, other plants grew here as well and many others were photographed but will ultimately be recorded as ‘unidentified genus/species’ as life is too short to know every plant in the universe, or even in these parts of Brazil.

S1568, between the showers, offered the same plant list plus P. floccosus ssp quadricostatus, Melocactus ernestii (s.n. M. azulensis) and an Orchid sp. with large pseudobulbs and yellow flowers. Many of the Melocactus had more than one cephalium, but usually just a double, in one case a quadruple cephalium had formed.

Marlon had drawn our attention to a small sprawling Asclepiad sp. that formed a caudex. The words ‘large’, ‘interesting’ and ‘attractive’ would be inappropriate, but that is just a personal evaluation. Marlon asked if we could take some pictures of the small flowers and two pictures, one from Cliff, one from me, are included in today’s album.

On our way to Itaobim, I could not help but take a picture of a man in a bus shelter who was not going to allow to let the grass grow under his feet.

Past Medina, we saw evidence that the right granite is in global demand for ornamental bathroom and kitchen fittings. It was being mined here by the hillside. By the time that the whole world has a granite kitchen and bathroom, these magnificent domes will be gone!

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