Our hotel is near the entrance to Camargo and is located on a small plaza where all the long haul coaches seem to stop and go – all night long – with engines running full time! So I went to sleep with my ipod on, to block out their noise. The exhaust fumes combined with our altitude (2,406 m) took care of any mosquitoes, so we had a buzz free night.
John had promised us an easier day, after yesterday’s driving day. We returned to Padcoya, as it was already too late yesterday to look for another miniature: Cintia knizei, or Rebutia (Weingartia) cintia (S2396). A choir of cameras clicked as we spread out and found our own plants. If I had not known better, I would have thought that I was on the Yavia cryptacarpa site in NW Argentina, with the same horizontal slate strata! After John had pointed out the first miniature, it was possible to walk anywhere in the area along the road, get down on your knees and take pictures of two and three plants without moving from the spot. A remarkable little plant! Also here, Weingartia fidana ssp cintiensis, Lobivia sp. one or two with orange flowers from near their base. And Llareta (Azorella compacta) is here as well, as is to be expected at these altitudes: 3,515 m above sea level.
We drove back to Camargo and once again crossed the bridge over the Rio Honda (there seem to be quite a few rivers by that name in South America). When we came out this morning we could see some Echinopsis (Trichocereus) tarijensis in flower. They were now in the sun and even more photogenic, so became S2397. At the other side of the bridge a most peculiar event was in progress as twelve Bolivians had made a sort of dam in the river and had filled the space upstream behind it with a lorry load of carrots. They were now trampling these in their wellies in an attempt to clean them. Very colourful! But check the labels on the carrots at Tescos etc. They may be organically grown but have they been washed in this fashion in a river with a fair-sized town up-stream using the same river for its sewage? I’m off the salads and sticking to steaks!
As I am playing catch up in wifi-less Camargo, the following stop details were prepared later, in the UK with sleet and snow flurries passing past my window. We made five more plant stops and saw:
S2398: Echinopsis (Lobivia) pugionacantha – may be var. haemantha? Opuntia sulphurea, Austrocylindropuntia shaferi, Rebutia (Weingartia) fidana ssp cintiensis – s.n. W. fidana ssp. cintiensis var. lecoriensis, Tunilla corrugata. S2399: Opuntia sulphurea, Parodia maassii – s.n. var albesence S2400: Rebutia (Weingartia) neumanniana, R. (W.) fidana ssp cintiensis S2401 and S2402: Echinopsis (Trichocereus) strigosa? P. maassii – or P. ritteri var. camargensis? Rebutia (Weingartia) fidana ssp cintiensis.
I make no excuses for the large amount of ‘sp.’ names and question marks. Especially when you visit an area for the first time, finding so many different cacti without name tags is disconcerting, but on reflection, I would probably disagree with any name tags anyway, as I frequently do in botanic gardens, as the task of going round to update the names would be impossible. On reflection, it would not be too bad a job, to be paid to travel through cactus habitats with a bag of previously prepared labels and ID information, including habitat pictures that enable me to make the match. Now I just need to find out where to sign up for this job – should be easy as there will be a long queue of interested parties already in line.
I have no problem with readers writing in and pointing out obvious howlers – it’s the only way to learn and I’d be happy to provide images that may help to firm up on the right names. So do check up in months to come to see if I have made any changes / corrections. Ultimately I retain the right to act on the advice given, or, if in doubt, to keep it for further consideration.