I woke up stiff, but rested after a night in the passenger front seat of the car, at around 6 a.m.
Earlier, around 3:30 while still driving towards Sucre, we could see the bright lights of the city in the distance, some 11 km away; too late for a hotel, too early to find a restaurant open so we pulled off the road and made ourselves comfortable for a few ours shut eye.
Later, plotting the GPS coordinates in Google Earth, it appeared that the hamlet that we could see was Toledo, near the small villageof Yamparaez. This was cactus country so we decided to fill in the time with a drive up the road to see what we could find. S2452 covers the images from that drive, lovely scenery and the more obvious cacti: Trichocereus, some in bud, only one in flower, Harrisia tetracantha, including one stand with about half a dozen flowers just opened, huge Agave americana (non-endemic) including var variagata, and a Cleistocactus sp.
Around 8 we had a couple of empanadas and much needed coffee in Sucre and decided, this time without the pressure of blockades, to take a look at the track that we had used to avoid the blockade a week ago. It seemed that there had been some good rains here since our last visit, later confirmed by Brian Bates.
We stopped at a likely looking hillside (S2453) where John, very experienced in finding Sulcos, had soon found a small group of S. canigualari, almost hidden in the sand. If it had not been for the recent rains, we would not have found them. Large ants provided an idea of scale, although I have to say that these ants were larger than anything ant-wise that I have ever seen in the UK, so I guess I need to find objects to use as scale for the ants. It seems that the Sulco’s produce their first flush of flowering probably triggered by day length, in anticipation of the first rains, and that further flushes may follow, triggered by more rains. The presence of the ants suggests that the first flush of flowering had already passed and that they were looking for fresh fruits and seed. I can also reports Echinopsis (Lobivia) sp. from here.
We continued our journey, but this time found a lot more water in the river and some very recent silt / mud along the river bed. Considering our fortunes in recent weeks it seemed wise to abort this mission and return to town.
Here John managed to find the track where we would have entered the town on ‘blockade day’, so we drove down hill, back towards the river bed. A red-flowering Parodia, P. tuberculata var sucrensis (?) prompted us to stop for a closer look and we also found Echinopsis (Lobivia) sp (to me most of the Lobivia that I have seen look much alike, but I’m told that we’ve seen different species, so I’ll stick with ‘sp.’ for now and will firm up on names later) and Austrocylindropuntia vestita (that Brian calls A. teres and John calls A. verschaeffelti) with dark red flowers and on the whole looking very good. There were lots of Tillandsia and lichen on the rocks, suggesting that this location gets quite a bit of humid air. Fantastic views over the river valley that we had tried to drive through suggests the reason why. The local Cleistocactus was also found as well as a Pepperomia sp., and an aroid.
Back to the hotel, it was great to have a shower and a change of clothes, sorting two days of images, a quick chat with Angie and then off for dinner with Brian Bates. I’m eating so much steak that I think that I’m growing horns!