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This episode is written from the Raquel & Larry Hotel in Bahia de Los Angeles, on the beach, less than 20 yards from the bay. As well as my laptop, there is a large Margarita in front of me – in a glass the size of a goldfish bowl, but without the gold-fish! Ian was right: Margaritas were invented in Baja.

After the adventures of trying to build sand castles with our car on Day 2, we spent a comfortable night in San Quintín. The room stank and we had a very expensive bottle (£12.50) of crap Mexican wine with the meal.

Next morning we carried on south on MEX 1. Unlike Ruta 5 in Chile, the Mexicans are tight with their tarmac, so that the road has NO hard shoulder and I still have to work out how two large trucks travelling in opposite directions avoid hitting each other. There is a sharp 6 inch drop immediately off the highway which itself is crumbling at the edges.

Soon after San Quintín we made our first real cactus stop and thought that we were in a cactus garden, considering all the different species
we found. Absolutely amazing. You could stand in one spot and see all the different species listed in the itinerary of the American Society for their 2007 trip.

And things just got better as the day went on and Pachycerereus pringlei and the boojums appeared on the scene (Sounds like a 1960’s rock band). Made several more stops and by the end of the day felt that if we did not see another cactus until April, I’d have enough material for a talk on the cacti & Succulents of Baja California.

We’re now used to it getting dark soon after the UK, but as there was a cold wind blowing, we arrived at our hotel in Cataviña around 4. Dinner at 5, beers and wine in the room thereafter while we were doing our photos. Outside the wind howled and another load of rain came down, but we were warm inside, so who cares. Based on experience so far, Ian, Cliff, bring a fleece!

Some 10 km north of Cataviña the famous boulder fields appeared and spectacular they were too, but it was too cold and the light too bad to get really good pictures. We made up for it this morning.

The good news is that many of the cacti are already in bud (Opuntias and Feros) or in flower (3 Feros and most of the Mams); must be the early

The Rough Guide suggests that this (the week around Carnival) is a seasonal high point and that it is difficult to find rooms. Not so, everything
is empty and quiet. Whatever the news says, there is a recession in the United States and no one is spending money on fancy trips to Mexico.

We can’t believe our luck, no traffic on the roads, smooth tarmac and surrounded by cacti. Every stop we find something new. But the wind is still strong (I got quite burned in the face, while wearing jumpers and a jacket) and while it is sunny while we are in the car, as soon as we have our cameras together and taking GPS readings, ready to start taking pictures, it has become overcast and cold again.

The car is great and so far there is absolutely no reason to go for a 4×4. I’ll keep this under review as we progress south.

Tomorrow we plan to drive back towards Mex 1 and then south to Guerrero Negro, with a side trip into the hills at Mision San Borja.

Life is good!

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