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Archive for February 10, 2008

Sunday, 10 February 2008 – San Carlos to Todos Santos

Well, a lot has happened since the last Diary issue. First of all the second Whaling Trip. I might have known – the previous day we had driven along roads with signs that said ‘put your headlights on in case of fog’ just like in Chile, but we never knew why. Now I do. We woke up to a real pea-souper!

We were up at 6 but expected to find the skipper at breakfast to call it off. Instead he had sent his dad. He reassured us that his son would be round at 8 to take us as promised, but that their might be a small chance that we would not see any whales in the mist and he would understand if we’d want to cancel. We explained that our main interest was to go to the island and see some cacti. OK – he remembered taking an American from the University of Arizona to a location where previously a guy from Japan had found some rare cacti. ‘Forget about the whales and take us to the cacti!’ we said. And so he gave instructions to take us to the cemetery (slightly worrying) on the island. The trip seemed impossible as we were completely engulfed in thick fog. Our glasses needed windscreen wipers and we got soaked. It seemed a hit and miss case of crisscrossing over the bay. Luis explained that his GPS did not work in the fog. Shame! Ours did!

Anyway, out of the fog came another shoreline, this time with crosses etc – just like a cemetery!!! He had performed a small miracle! So we jumped ashore and agreed we’d scout around for 30 minutes – but with very little hope. Within minutes we had bumped into a Stenocereus that could best be described as an intermediate between S. gummosus and S. eruca. Next we almost walked into an Opuntia, O. pycnantha var margaritana which is said to be endemic to this island and Isla Margarita next door – certainly very distinctive! On our way back to the boat we spotted a second clump of Opuntia but in getting to it, nearly tripped over some other cacti that turned out to be a Mammillaria (Cochemia) halei, and in flower!!!!

This was more than we had dared to hope for so we instructed our skipper to head home. During the ride across the bay, suddenly the fog was gone, and we arrived back at San Carlos in full glorious sunshine with a welcoming committee of some 6-7 !!! species of heron & egrets (they belong to the same 2 genera) and 2 sp of pelican. Lots of pictures for Mike.

Anyway, lots more cactus stops on the way to Todos Santos which is a really nice little town, with a Sunday Market aimed at tourists.