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Archive for November, 2018

Monday, 12 November, 2018

Around Diamantina: – Mendanha to Inhai

Memories of today’s Diary pages – or for most of them – are a little bit hazy so I am relying on Marlon’s notes – in Portuguese and Google Translate. Marlon took a month off from his regular business of providing garden plants and services to local customers. He was taking numerous mobile phone messages from client’s chasing orders, so he needs to catch up.

We’re based in Diamantina for few days, ideally situated in the middle of Uebelmannia country, specifically for members of the U. pectinifera complex I was first here in 1999, with the late Keith Grantham, Brian Bates to meet up with Rudolf Schulz and join Rudolf and Marlon in explorations for their 2000 book ‘Uebelmannia and their Environment’, our first Uebelmanniathon.

Today’s program similar to the one for Monday, 16 November 2009 when I traveled with Cliff Thompson from Waterlooville. That time, Marlon was unable to join us for the Minas Gerais stretch of our trip, so that we relied on Google Translate for our communications in Portuguese. Today’s stop list records eight stops where we saw and photographed the following taxa: Cipocereus minensis
Discocactus placentiformis
Pilosocereus aurisetus
Uebelmannia pectinifera and its subspecies flavispina

This time our first stop was said to be the type locality for U. pectinifera. It had rained overnight. The rocks were covered in a cyanobacterium that gave the rocks a black appearance. This cover was in turn covered in Algae and Lichen making the surface rather slippery. Also, many of them were loose and so, within minutes I made my first tumble grazing my head, unprotected following Angie’s dramatically short haircut, both arms and a cut over by kneecap. The bleeding was not too bad, although it did seem to attract a large number of mosquitoes. But worst of all, the tumble seemed to have damaged my self confidence, so that although I had already started the day as the slowest thing on two legs, I was now being overtaken by snails. Hummingbirds flew by my face, but I was too slow to get their picture.

Uebelmannias grow on rocky outcrops, so I blame the lack of pictures of these plants on the slippery nature of the rocks that they grow on.

Sunday, 10 November, 2018 – Day 1

It’s not just cacti & other succulent plants that we enjoy on our trips, but also a bit of adventure. Well, we have had enough of the latter as I sit on an airport bench in Sao Paola Airport in Brazil where we missed our connecting flight to Belo Horizonte by a whisker due to the extra crowds trying to get into the country for tomorrow’s F1 Grand Prix which is held at… Sao Paolo! They seem to be the Max Verstappen fan club, with some 4 Jumbos of Dutch and Belgian fans, arriving at the same time that we did.

Our arrival also coincided with Brazil turning its clocks to summer time so it seems that we lost an hour …. off the 1:35 hrs that we had for our transfers.

This is the largest airport in Latin America but not the most clearly laid out one.

We Alain, John Child and Chris Hayes were all very tired, having got up at the excellent Premier Inn at T4 – so new that my SatNav did not know about it and took us to the one at T5. We could have taken a courtesy bus that was some walk away, but in the end, looking at the pile of luggage, it seemed easier to call a taxi, who, for £16 was very happy to take us ’round the corner’.

But I guess it all started a bit earlier when Chris arrived and we packed my car with the cases etc. When we were ready to go, I could not find my car key. Searched my place, #12, – Nothing. Then did the same at Angie’s (#10) where some of the packing was done. Nothing! Went through my many pockets, twice, nothing! Started going through my luggage and yes, there was the key! 3 layers down in the rucksack! I’m getting old!

As a result, we missed getting Marlon his requested jar of marmite.

Angie had a rotten journey back home with a pile-up on the M3/A303 on a dark and wet night.

So, up at 03:00, walk to T4, farther than expected with our luggage! Smooth flight to Paris -CdG and quickly to the departure gate at the other side of the airport, but everything went well. Then 12 hours in the air on seats that we failed to pre-select so we had the middle seat in the middle block of seats, needing to climb over fellow passengers to visit the toilet. I’m getting too old for this.

Then I fell behind the others as, already late from the struggle through immigration, I was sent the wrong way through security, who wanted to Xray everything again, yes, even the luggage destined for the hold, so yes, they confiscated the nice Swiss Army knife that Angie & I bought at the Waterfalls at Schaffhausen during our March holiday. It was the nice du-lux version with wooden handle and 100 Euro price tag! Looks like we have to visit the shop again!

We’re unsure when Air France open their office so that we can sort our tickets out.

Now let’s see if I am still in credit with the wifi!