Bolivia part 2
Thu, 08 May 2003 15:47:34 PDT
One of the most interesting areas was the potao growing area around 3000 m in 
the Cochabamba area: there I found a dwarf tuberous large pink flowered Cosmos 
species flowering beautifully in grass. Also yellow Bidens in bloom. This is 
cool moist potago growing climate with cold dry winters, many plants tuberous 
(like potatoes!) The interesting if not shocking thing about potatoes in 
Bolivia (the home country of potatoes) is that the most commonly grown potato 
is a Dutch variety......called 'Hollandesa'

The highlight of the trip by car was the descent from the Cochabamba area into 
the lowlands....... From water dripping moss and fern clad cold rainforest to 
steaming hot Amazonia...... So many plants, a climate of choice according to 
altitude, a good modern flawlessly paved road....... one wonders why no more 
plant lovers have settled down there..... A short section of the road is not 
paved because the terrain is so geologically instable due to the steep slope 
that landslides are so frequent that paving is not worth it. There are always 
bulldozers standing by..... The lower part of this section of Bolivia is 
coca-plant growing country and there is a lot of unrest that will probably not 
stop unless a sustainable (and legal!) income for the people is found.

In this area the road can be blocked but when I went there it was 'transitable' 
which meant just that. There were hundreds of people sitting on the bank of the 
road, just sitting there but I had a feeling that all of a sudden they might as 
well sit ON the road..... so I went through that area as fast as possible 
without turning right or left. Nothing happened in fact, it was paranoia  

The greatest highlight of my trip was my visit to Chalalan: Imagine a 5-hour 
power camoe ride up a wild untamed jungle river and then half an hour walk 
through the jungle thundered at by a horde of howler monkeys, to reach an 
idyllic lagoon with some traditional wooden houses in a clearing above it. A 
welcoming smile and a fresh cool lemonade just at the very right moment...... 
Very comfortable rooms, very simple though. I had several  guided walks both 
during the day and at night both in the jungle and by boat on the lagoon...... 
monkeys and parrots and so many other animals, most of which were heard rather 
than seen. No technical noise whatsoever but ever so much more the natural 
ones. Steaming mystery mornings after heavy rains at night....... Unfogettable, 
so much to see and to learn and so very nice people. Chalalan is a cummunity 
run project run by a Qechua-speaking village nearby.
The plants there? Palms over palms, the most interesting one the 'migrating 
palm' having its trunk suspended on thick, spiny rope like aerial roots. Giant 
trees, a multitude of ferns, many Philodendrons, some Commelinaceae, very 
little flower to be seen.

At the end I returned to Rurrenabaque to catch my small plane back to Santa 
Cruz. It didn't fly because the rain had transformed the unpaved landing strip 
into a soft mud....... a day later everything had dried. The people in 
Rurrenabaque have the most heart-warming smile I ever have experienced during 
many trips. Genuinely friendly without any intention behind it.

Well.... this is an impression. I intend to have the slides copied and sent to 
somebody who can put them into the various plant groups as I do not have the 
means myself at present. I am happy to reply to any questions and hope I have 
not bored you..... Uli

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