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I’ll start where I left off yesterday: we had another great day!

First, we finally succeeded in equipping ourselves with a machete each, so we’re ready for more impenetrable vegetation.

Second, we managed to get to Uebelmannia gummifera – the ‘easy drive through population’. I did not see this species in 1999, just its ssp. meninensis that we tried to see again on 23 and 24 November, only a few weeks back. Then we tried from Diamantina and found the tracks in very poor repair, waiting for asphalt.

We spent a long time there, indulging in photography rather than racing on to the other Uebelmannia populations. We’ll do them next time (pencilled in for another Brazil trip in 2014 ) when hopefully both Pedra Menina and Penha de França will be on a nice asphalt road that at Pedra Menina has been extended to lead straight to the U. meninensis site! A bar and ice cream parlour near by would provide the excuse for the road and would be appreciated.

Cliff had a bad stomach during the night, so taking it easy was the sensible thing to do. No idea how Marlon managed to get busses across these tracks. There were at least three places where Cliff said: ‘Well we can go down, but I doubt if we can get back this way!’ So after the U. gummifera stop we carried on turning left each time there was a junction and eventually got to tarmac. Great driving, Cliff!

It looked on Google Earth that at one stage we were ‘close’ to U. buiningii – as the crow flies – and we could see quartz fields in the distance, but there was at least one valley in between, so probably 4 times as far as we thought.

It is good to have things to come back for: D. horstii, U. buiningii, U. rubra etc.

For me, it put the final tick in the list of taxa to have seen this time round. So, in a way we’re winding down and getting excited about Marlon’s suggested itinerary for Bahia. What a list of cactus species that will add!!!

Tomorrow we head back to Diamantina, get the car washed and the next day drive to Lagos Santana, the nearest town to Belo Horizonte Airport for an early departure on Friday.

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