November 17, 2018
It’s been very wet during the night, with others in the party complaining that they were kept awake by heavy storms. Not me! But the rain was gone by around 10 a.m.
The flooded roads (well, lots of surface water, anyway) are being expertly navigated by John & Alain with Jarred and me putting in token appearances as well.
I continue to struggle to keep up. We’re moving at a fast speed, certainly faster than most previous trips. There is lots to see, this is a huge country. Each morning, Marlon gave clear instructions of what we are doing when, but I don’t hear them and/or forget them!
The camera preserved the excellent plants that we saw. At S3675 Micranthocereus purpureus, Melocactus levitestatus, Quiabentia zehntneri (in flower), Pilosocereus sp. to name but a few grew on heavily eroded and therefore very sharp limestone.
Farther along, Marlon made us stop (S3676) along the road and guided the party back to where he had seen a pachycaul tree. I decided to stay with the car, but slowly made my way along the roadside until the 300 mm end of my zoom lens caught a decent view of the tree:
Still farther along, there was a large tarantula spider crossing the track, providing a reason to stop (S3677). It challenged John’s shoed foot to a fight. John only wanted to provide an object for scale. In the end, it was a draw and the spider went its own way, into the shrub.
We had a bit of an accident today, driving on dirt roads (S3678). Suddenly the recent rains had created a deep gully and John, driving, found not enough room to the left or right of the gully, tried to straddle it but both front & back nearside wheels disappeared into it, turning the car halfway over. I was sitting in the back seat of the side that went in. I could not open the door and suitcases had come down from the back seats, fortunately without causing any damage or injury. That morning we had bought a tow rope as ‘you never know…’ The others lifted the car so that I could get out, then Alain pulled our car out with his, using our new tow rope. Amazingly, no damage, other than a scratch or two on the plastic bodywork.
The last stop of the day (S3679) was for Micranthocereus polyanthus at one of only three known locations of this plant in nature.
There is no obvious threat to the plants at this location, unless it is decided to widen the road or use the rocks that they grow on as aggregate for road building. They are rarely seen offered for sale in Europe as they require heating to 15 C and mature plants require quite a bit of pot room.