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Yes, we’re still in San Ignacio, but have moved from the no star room (shed?) in town to another Desert Inn / La Pinta Motel, the fourth in the chain here. Just another 2 to go and we’ll have done the set!

So, this morning at 8 we were at the eco-office in the town square, ready for our whale adventure. We had a 2 hour drive over bad dirt to get there, frustrating as we drove through cactus country with a new Fero (or two?), tons of Echinocereus brandegeei, a new ceroid (Stenocereus thurberi) and Opuntia invicta.

We are in amazement about Mexican time keeping – it could have been Switzerland! Great. Talking of time keeping – dropped my watch on the tile floor in the showers, shattered the glass – guess I’ll buy a new one on the way home at the airport. This one was bought at Gatwick as we flew out to Chile in 2006.

So, we boarded the panga (similar to the Chilean ones for the penguin trip, but with an engine 4 times the size), and nearly flew off to the observation zone. Taking pictures of whales (grey whales here) is a bit different from taking pics of cacti – they move at quite a speed!  Anyway, after some bopping about on the waves, we watched the water boil as a male and female ensured that there would be calves next year. Then, with the action over, she felt like a bit of after play with our boat. The rules are that the boats are not supposed to sail to within 30 meters of the whale, but if the whale approaches the boat, it’s OK. This one did. It was amazing to be eye to HUGE eye as it popped up to have its head stroked. This happened some 10 times! It then went on to try to remove some of its barnacles by scraping them along the bottom of the boat, pushing it around at will. It could easily have thrashed it but was ever so gentle and careful when it came to flicking fins and tail.

Alain and I were in different boats so that we could photograph each other with the whale. Alain has a great picture of me stroking the whale, but unfortunately was always on the wrong side of the boat when it was his turn.

Got back on the dot at 4 p.m. as promised, booked into the new hotel on the road out of town and headed south on MEX1 for a 1 hour cactus stop at the first opportunity to get off the road. Amazing way to finish the day. You could walk 10 meters from the car and photograph all the plants mentioned above plus a couple of Mammillaria: M. brandegeei and something that I’d still call M. dioica, but it is possibly one of the many forms of this species that have gained and refused to give up their rank as species. They were both in flower and fruit. The Fero was also in fruit (yellow colour) so it’s frustrating to keep getting stopped at the numerous army check points with kids brandishing large machine guns. NO collecting!!

Finished the evening with a Negro Modela (dark beer) and fish fillets plus salad, ‘bean mash’, baked potato and rice plus tortillas.

The Hotel’s wifii only works in the admin office, so Alain I are keeping the Hotel Manager company while thrashing out today’s episode.

I’ve included Cliff’s home address as well, as he appears not to receive them at work (although included) and Alain is now also copied in. Alain has been sending photo reports to cactus_study, one of the many forums we belong to. Angie can forward them.

We’re off south again tomorrow, to Loreto, where again there is a Desert Inn / La Pinta Motel, so you never know – might get another email!

And finally thanks to Ian for sending us the Devon Diaries. Alain has difficulties getting off to sleep, so I’m sure these will help! It’s not easy being green! 🙂

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