Up at 8am for a light breakfast. Brad had met some
locals who said they would collect and clean as many Parajubaea
seeds for us as we wanted. The seeds are extremely difficult to
clean. The fruits are large; almost the size of a golf ball, and
the flesh is very hard and fibrous. It has to be cut off with a
knife. We thought their offer price of 10c US per seed was good.
We asked for a couple of thousand seeds. All this negotiation took
a long time but eventually we set off, driving east, direction of
Baeza. Once of out town there is much to see botanically speaking;
Brad and Jacques wanted to stop every minute again. We didn't see
much in the way of palms, but at least they were happy, and collected
dozens of specimens of leaves, flowers and seeds. Began to see lots
of tree ferns, species unknown, as we climbed higher and higher.
Got up to 3500m altitude, then began to descend. Passed through
lots of small towns none of which had much to offer, though at midday
we stopped for a local meal, a sort of mixed platter of fried eggs,
chips, grilled beef, rice, fried banana, avocado, chopped carrots
and peas with mayonnaise. A bit of everything really, but everyone
in the place was eating the same, so I guess it was a specialité
de la maison. We sped on again, stopping every so often to look
at plants. Eventually we came to Papallacta where there are hot
springs. The stream by the side of the road was steaming and actually
quite hot! Stayed here for a while, there were swimming pools and
showers, all heated free. Then off again, and the scenery started
to get quite spectacular, with deep, deep gorges, sheer rock faces
and rushing waterfalls. Every so often on these mountain roads there
is a cross or several crosses with names indicating where someone
had driven over the edge, sometimes perhaps an entire family. Saw
a few more palms but many more tree ferns. Arrived at Baeza at around
6pm. It's a tiny town, more a collection of houses really, but we
managed to find a 'hotel' if it could be called such. Rather primitive,
with no hot water, but comfortable enough. Feels very 'South American'
- even has a tame parrot on the veranda. Found a small 'restaurant'
but no beer so washed down fish & chips with rum 'n' coke. Home
from home! Retired quite early and slept well in spite of the torrential
rain on the corrugated tin roof. No mosquitoes.