Friday, 25 December – East of Morro do Chapéu
Today was the first time for a long time (ever?) that I was in a church on Christmas Day. This time it was not for a religious service, but as part of a visit to the near ghost town of Ventura. Many years ago, I worked on a small project to put out of print texts of cactus books on-line, making sure that we retained the original pagination (for reference purposes) but modifying the text format to suit on-line reading. The only book that was ever produced was ‘Brazil and its Columnar cacti’ by Erich Werdermann, published in German in 1933. In it is a picture of the house that he used in 1932 as a base for his stay in Ventura.
Delmar Alvin was again with us as a useful guide, despite mutual language problems. Werdermann’s house has since been demolished. All my pictures for the visit to the village and the track to it are filed as S1619. It includes Marlon’s BR055 from where he reports Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis. We found the spot without problems. It was where a cattle gate had to be opened and cacti could be seen in the shrubbery. We found six cacti taxa here. Arrojadoa penicilata was easy to identify once we had discovered the one and only ring cephalium. If it does not get enough light, such as here in the shrubs, it just keeps growing without flowering. This plant had stems over 3 m long! The second cactus were young seedlings of Tacinga funalis, not a plant often seen in cultivation in Europe and when you see the plant, it’s easy to understand why. Just thin sticks. Cliff ran his fingers up one of the stems and confirmed its ID as glochids stuck in his fingers. Next may be the reported Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis but as we have no good pictures to assist in the ID, Marlon will have to confirm this in a few days time. Another Tacinga was seen in the forest, spiny, but with thinner pads than I had seen on T. palmadora. Possibly T. braunii? Cereus jamacaru and Pilosocereus glaucochrus completed the picture.
The Cachoeira Ferro Doido (waterfall) is a very nice place located 18 km to the east of Morro do Chapéu on the main road to Feira de Santana. Plants seen and photographed (S1620) were Micranthocereus purpureus, Melocactus oreas subsp. cremnophilus, Stephanocereus luetzelburgii, Pilosocereus glaucochrous, Pilosocereus pachycladus, and also the small Euphorbia appariciana. The place is very scenic, the river bed makes two canyons before the drop of the waterfall. As in 1999, there was no water falling, but the thunderstorms raging around us could change that in days to come. Remembering how a pose on a rock overhang a few weeks ago caused Marylan to gain the nickname ‘Crazy Woman’ I felt that I had to go one better, mainly in terms of potential distance to fall before going splat. There was a perfect rock overhang and Cliff was in charge of pointing the camera while I posed on the rock. Breath taking scenery!.
With time to spare, Delmar suggested one more stop at a location he called ‘Tabuleiro Pachala Sergio’. The Tabuleiros seem to be the flat areas with fine white sand with variable density of vegetation. The common factor seems to be that M. polyanthus ssp. alvinii grows there. In this case we also found Stephanocereus luetzelburgii, Melocactus paucispinus and Pilosocereus glaucochorus. Delmar was busy gathering a wide range of fruits from the low scrub, enough to supply a small grocery store.
We went back to the hotel and then got dressed up in our ‘finest’ to take Delmar out for our Christmas meal – to an Italian restaurant, just as in Famatina in 2008, but this time we had steak chips and salad instead of hamburger and pizza.
Another great day and a Christmas to remember in years to come. As far as the last picture in today’s album is concerned. No, Cliff has not bought the Italian restaurant in Morro do Chapéu! He is just waiting behind the bar to have his credit card payment cleared.