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FEWEW, what a day !!!

In February, Alain and I had enjoyed a great morning bird watching on the road to the Old Wharf in the Estero de San Jose and still had plenty of time to get to San Ignacio, 89 miles down the road on MEX1. This time, with the 4×4, we had more options and decided to take the unpaved road (according to maps) from Vizcaino to Bahia Asuncion, through the salt flats of the Vizcaino Peninsula, then along the coast south to Punta Prieta, San Hipolito and San Bocana to Punta Abreojos and back inland to MEX1 and San Ignacio, a total of 339 km. Why? Because it would take us past the type localities of Ferocactus fordii and Echinocereus maritimus ssp. hancockii, and perhaps near a place where Agave sebastian could be found.

First stop was at Laguna Ojo de Lieber (a.k.a. Scammon Lagoon) for the Fero. Unfortunately there was an unscheduled stop for changing a tyre, as a sharp stone had punctured the side wall. These things happen, but Eunice, who was driving at the time, felt really bad. Unfortunately
there were no Feros to be found, but we were rewarded with another amazing display of field flowers in blues, pinks, whites and yellows.

The next stop, to have another look for cacti, brought us a red flowered Ferocactus (was it F. fordii?) and a plant that Cliff first identified as Echinocereus maritimus ssp hancocki but that turned out to be, on reflection, Opuntia invicata. Amazing that these four cactus freaks could not even get the genus right straight away, but a lot has been written about the parallel evolution that has created several species of cacti with a very similar spine configuration. Finding the plant in flower sealed it eventually.

Also around here, Eunice found a single, blue Agave, that might be A. sebastian – books need to be consulted.

It was my turn behind the wheel and we were making good progress on ‘average dirt’ when Ian spotted clumps of Echinocereus along the road. This time it was E. hancockii and I believe I have some good shots of the few plants that we found. But we were not even at San Hipolito, so perhaps there was better to come.

Unfortunately, the next stop was for our second puncture of the day. As we only had the one spare tyre, the technical term that best described our situation was Deep Shit!

The best thing to do seemed to be to get the 1st punctured tyre out from underneath the car (i.e. all luggage out again), then start undoing the second wheel with the new flat (it was the worst of the two, as it had taken a while before I had realised that we had a problem). We then hoped that a passing car (we had seen very few so far today) would take us to the nearest town and try to get the tyre fixed or replaced.

Fortunately a car appeared very soon and tyre + Ian were dispatched while Eunice, Cliff & I sat around waiting. Ironically, just where we had broken down, some 50 tyres (past punctures) had been buried in the sand to act as road markers and made an interesting background for some pictures of our predicament.

Several more cars came by and all stopped to offer help, but drove off when they learned that we were already being helped. We were glad to see Ian and ‘Joe Moon’ Alejandro, our saving angel, reappear some 90 minutes after the first car had stopped. The good news was that the tyre had been ‘fixed’ but only as an emergency ‘plug’, so that driving on the variable quality dirt road remained an issue. The other problem was that the sun was going down fast. We made for the next village but wasted time looking for a hotel that only had 1 room with 3 beds. Ian, now behind the
steering wheel, was in favour of carrying on to San Ignacio.

Our luck was changing for the better – the road, that on the maps was shown as ‘poor dirt’ was actually tarmac, so instead of the advisable speed of less than 30 mph we managed to drive on at around 60 mph and reached the welcome sight of MEX1 in the dark, and 24 km later, that of the Desert Inn at San Ignacio. We need to reschedule things from here on in as #1 priority now is contacting the insurance company and getting a
new spare tyre or two, but first dinner and some hard-earned Margaritas!

More tomorrow!

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