I have probably said this before, but I’ll say it again: Brazil is BIG!
Today we drove some 300 km, half of which was marked ‘poor condition’, just as yesterday’s disaster area. Today, the map was wrong and the first 109 km out of 136 was smooth and wonderful, with average speed in excess of 100 km.p.hr. The last stretch was rough again, but percentage wise, we were well pleased to reach Ibotirama so quickly. 14 km out of town was our first designated stop where Marlon tells us we saw the rare Pilosocereus aureispinus (this is type locality, HU 391), and also Facheiroa squamosa. I think that we only saw the Pilosocereus, but will have to look up pictures to confirm the ID. That’s the trouble with rare plants, you don’t see them often in the flesh and in this case this applies to habitat and cultivation in Europe (S1602).
S1603, at the village of Palmeira dos Mendes, some 28 km west of Seabra, brought back more memories of 1999, as we had stopped here to look for Micranthocereus streckeri. We were a bit tense because we had just lost three days due to a burnt out clutch on Brian’s Nissan Patrol. And although three pairs of legs had been under the car for three days, we believe the gents were just getting out of the sun and having a rest, as there were no proper spare parts available. Instead they ripped a ‘good’ clutch out of an old American make car and said that it would be OK. So, we were a bit tense as I recall when we made our first stop since the repairs, in 1999.
No such worries this time. Cliff went up one way and found a foot path to the top – jammy bugger – and was back at the car while I was still crawling up the exposed steep side of the hill the hard way. But at least we had both found M. streckeri that grows only here and was accompanied by Micranthocereus purpureus that is similar when young, but you can easily tell them apart when they have cephalia – bristly and orange in M. streckeri, woolly and yellowish in M. purpureus. Other cacti were Pilosocereus pachycladus, P. glaucochrous, Cereus jamacaru, Tacinga inamoena, and Melocactus paucispinus (the last one only seen and photographed by Cliff as I spent too long getting up and down the hill).
Exhausted (well, I was) we arrived in Seabra where this time there was a whole range of hotels on offer.