We had hoped to reach La Serena on the first day, a 474 km journey along Ruta 5, the Pan-American Highway. We decided to start the drive, but as we approached Pichidangui, the location of our last stop in 2001 and of our first and last stop in 2003, the eyes became tired and the thought of another return visit became a great temptation.
Soon we were booked into a new cabana and on our way to the seaside to check on the state of the plants. Building development, inspired by tourism, had progressed at pace but ‘our’ plants were safe (S217 = S107 in 2001 and S108 and S216 in 2003). In the past, Eriosyce subgibbosa had been in full flower, while a significant number of similar looking plants had not been. According to Kattermann, these were Eriosyce chilensis var. albidiflora that has a different flower and flowers at a different time (based on our observations E. albidiflora flowers in October rather than May / June). The other Eriosyce found here, E. curvispina, was in bud, as were Echinopsis litoralis and Eulychnia castanea. This promised to be a treat to look forward to when we are due to return here on the way home, three weeks later.
There is no point in counting the hours since we had last had a good night’s rest, so after the usual local fish dish, washed down with Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon for Anne and I, beer for Alain, we retired to the cabañas for a good night sleep, at least for Anne and I, as Alain discovered that the rumours were true – that my snoring resembles the noise made by thousands of mechanical saws cutting down rain forests.