SUBCHAPTER 9 – A moment frozen in time

Dear reader,

Exploring new sites require a minimum of previous organization, but we also know that plans are subject to sudden changes in the course of events. This is when you have to carefully weigh the facts available and, ultimately, trust your instinct when all fails. Once a decision is made, you go for it.

This describes my situation one early morning of last August when en route to visit a waterfall with companions Adroaldo and Pedro. Upon a curve of the dirt road and still far from our destination, we saw that massive rock wall in the horizon. Should we explore it immediately? How long would it take us to do it? Three hours maximum? Well, we did go for it but the survey consumed the rest of the day… and what a pleasant surprise that meant! I explain.

Jacobina and vicinity are covered by biomes Cerrado and Caatinga, where trees are widely spaced – when present at all – so that the canopy does not close, allowing sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses. To our amazement, what we found once we reached the walls was something totally unexpected: colossal trees – over 25 meters high -, closed canopies with zillions of Tillandsia usneoides and a successful ecosystem vividly pulsating on the shade below! Bromeliads and orchids ornamenting the décor. Feast for the eye and imagination. I can easily perceive the whole area covered with this exuberant vegetation sometime in the past. Animals roaming freely, governed by the laws of nature. I lay quiet for a while. What I see is a fragment of tropical splendor frozen in time. How touching and beautifully simple.

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