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Today we only had a five minute drive up the road to park our cars at the entrance of the Quebrada San Ramon. The aim was to walk as far up the valley as we could and to admire all the various forms of Copiapoa cinerea on the way. These include C. haseltoniana (with yellow / orangey spination and felt at the apex), C. tenabrosa (a high altitude form) and C. albispina (white spined, as the name implies) – as well as C. krainziana and C. rupestris.

Angie found it heavy going through the loose sand and stretches with boulders that must have been attractive rapids in the days when water flowed through this canyon. So, remembering that after all, this was a holiday – and because I had already seen C. krainziana and C. rupestris in 2001 – the two of us decided to take the opportunity of a photo shoot of the wonderful variability of the plants found about half way into the Quebrada.

Although I recorded 4 stop numbers (S0131, S0132, S0133 and S0134) these were merely landmarks for notes taken at the mouth of the Quebrada, at the points where two side canyons join the main one and at the point where Angie & I decided that we’d gone far enough.

As the day progressed and many a flash card, film and battery had to be replaced by a fresh one, we slowly made our way back to the entrance, expecting the others to catch us up. However, we did not recognise the first figure we spotted in the distance, although he too seemed to be photographing the cacti and collecting seed. A bit later, now carrying a huge rucksack, he caught up with us and surprised me by his greeting: ‘Hi Paul Klaassen, I’m Finn Larsen’. Finn had heard about our Copiapoathon from Rudolf and had emailed me a few weeks before our departure from Europe. He too was travelling around Chile in June and I sent him a copy of our itinerary. As a result, he knew that we would probably be in Quebrada San Ramon that day. He had already met some of the others in our party at the end of the canyon, where he had camped for the night. He had to get back to the mouth of the Quebrada by 4 p.m. as he had booked a taxi to pick him up.

Later that night he joined us for dinner at Restaurant Las Brisas, right on the small fishing harbour, where that night we managed to drink the place dry of Cristal beer. It was decided that Finn + rucksack could be squeezed into the Nissan and so he became a welcome addition to our party until the penultimate day of our trip.

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