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Archive for November 27, 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011 – around Sucre, sightseeing

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the life of a dedicated cactus explorer is not so different from my days in a regular office job. We wake up at 7, have breakfast at 8 and aim to be away by 9 a.m. From there it is a regular 9-5 job, we tend to spend 5-6 hours bumping around in a 4×4 on roads and tracks of variable and unpredictable quality and for 2-3 hours make stops to explore or just take photographs of primarily cacti, with other succulents a close second, any plant of interest to a C&S audience third and fill out the rest with images of the scenery, local people, buildings etc. When we get home, hot, sweaty and covered in dust, we head straight for a cold beer and a shower, Just as in the old days, we ‘take work home’ – down loading the images taken during the day and sorting them into folders, one for each stop, within a folder for each day. After a quick check of emails and a chat on MSN with Angie, it is time to find a place to eat and then, before falling into bed to pass out for the night, there is the task of completing today’s Diary entry. Car problems, blockades, lack of internet facilities and running into old friends, such as Brian Bates all conspire to cause a back log of Diary entries. And usually, we follow a seven day working week, often losing track of what day of the week it is.

At least writing up the Diaries help to re-focus on the calendar, after all, it would not do to turn up a day late at the airport, would it Leo?

I spotted that today was Sunday, traditionally a rest day, so it was good that today’s program was a break from cactus exploring.In the morning Wiebe and I made a trip to the Parque Cretacico, near the famous Sucre Cement Works. Rather than me giving you my version of what this tourist attraction is all about, point your browser to www.parquecretacicosucre.com and learn why Sucre and Jurasic Park are not too far removed from each other.

Max had arranged a taxi to pick us up from Hostal International Sucre, wait while we made our guided tour and made some more pictures before driving us back to the Hostel. Very civilised.

John had been before, only two weeks ago, so had stayed ‘at home’.  Now fully rested, he suggested a taxi ride into the centre of Sucre for a closer look at the wonderful colonial buildings, mostly painted white, that give the town the name ‘White City’. This is quite a different city than the urban sprawl that spills over the hillsides, covering areas formerly covered by cacti, in particular Sulcorebutia. The genus is famous for its variability, with different populations on different hillsides and even plants on the same hillside looking different at the top compared to those at the bottom. Botanists and hobbyists have been confused for years and have created many names, then lumped them, following by a splitting phase. It’s rare for two Sulco specialists to agree on all the taxonomic and classification details and when you are guided by two such experts with close but still sometimes different concepts of what names to use, things tend to get a little difficult.

Today’s stops were S2461 – the Dinosaur footprint park and S2462 – Sucre sightseeing, at last non-controversial photo stops!

PS I knew this would happen if I posted today’s edition at 16:00, before the day was out.

We were looking for a place to have dinner, disappointed that the nearby restaurants used on the last two nights were shut – Sunday night! So, for about 1 GBP we took a taxi to the Plaza in the centre of town, enjoyed a nice meal, said goodnight to Brian and hailed another taxi to take us home. All went well until we collided with another car, full of Bolivians. If we had been in the middle of Amsterdam it would have been the other cars fault, as they failed to give priority to traffic (us) coming from the right. Here the traffic rules seem to be a bit more haphazzard; you aim the car to where there is space to avoid crashes. One of the young ladies from the other car came over screaming at the taxi driver and hit out at him, screami9ng abuse at him. The other occupants soon broke up any possible altercation, all reached for their mobile phones and at least four disappeared in another taxi. So how many had there been in the other car? No idea. Probably too many. Not wanting to get tied up in possible witness statements at the police station for the next few days, we decided to pay the driver the standard fare for Plaze to the Hostel, hailed another cab and this time got home safely. Never a dull moment!

This trip continues to be full of adventure. Lots of stories to tell, but fortunately no serious after affects. John did warn us that Bolivia would be different.

We agreed today that Brian would travel with us for the last few days of the trip, to Santa Cruz, from where he would take the bus home. Perhaps he can be our lucky charm or at least entertain us with more stories of him and his monkey (who is NOT coming along)