Wednesday, 19 March 2008 – East and South of Todos Santos
The alternative heading for today could also have been ‘To the Cape and back’ or ‘Farthest point South’. In short, we set off this morning heading south on MEX19 for some 12 km, before finding a dirt track heading east. This would take us right over the highest part of the southern tip of the peninsula, with hills to just under 2,000 m (6,000 ft) altitude. The road itself would climb from sea level to nearly 800 m (2,400 ft) before descending back to sea level.
Highlights included seeing lots and lots of Pachycereus pecten-arboriginum in bud, flower and in fruit, even collecting some ripe seed. Here it grows right alongside what I believe to be straight P. pringlei, and there may be natural hybrids between the two as well, but the two species seem to have a different flowering season, so that the opportunity to interbreed may be rare.
There were some large Agave around that Eunice identified as A. gigantea and some impressive demonstrations of Ficus palmeri’s ability to split and destroy rocky hillsides with its tremendously strong roots.
The added bonus was provided by tremendous views and the ability to explore moderately far from the road, as barbed wire was usually not a problem here.
Although only some 37 km from MEX19 to MEX1, we were in no particular hurry and made quite a number of short stops, although I’m sure that more stops would have been appreciated if there had been more time available. Progress on these tracks however is slow.
Once on MEX1, we were back to a comfortable 70 m.p.h. and as tomorrow night we have scheduled a camping night, the sight of a large super market along the road at Los Cabos was both timely and appropriate. While Eunice fixed her need for caffeine at McDonalds, the men did the food shopping, spending perhaps more time on the liquid side of things than on the nutritional and health merits of the supplies. I have a bottle of Concha Y Toro Special Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, so I’m alright! I managed to turn the supermarket stop into a plant stop by taking pictures of a young lad stripping the spines of Opuntia pads, cutting them into slices and moving them onto the food counter as Nopales, an ingredient in salads etc.
And then through the crowded streets of Cabo San Lucas, trying to find our way out of Los Cabos on MEX19. Once back at full speed, there was time for another stop, prompted by a river bed leading to the ocean. In a similar location, Alain and I had found Echinocereus sciurus, not a magnificent find, but another tick on the checklist of taxa found in nature. It seemed to grow on a narrow strip of rocky terrain and we only found one or two plants. There was a similar rocky area at this location and it was Ian who found the plant first. Once spotted, it didn’t take too long to find more, but as the sun was getting low in the sky and the plants had positioned themselves to benefit from the early morning rather than late afternoon sun, most were in the shade.
The other feature of this location were the ‘Doom Buggies’. As we drove along MEX 19, we had passed a place called Cactus ATV. Some eco-tourism organisation with an emphasis on conversation? No, we had seen the 4 huge wheeled buggies for their nature trails in February. This
time we saw them in action, as they came, head lights on, blazing through a cloud of sand dust along the beach, heading for a large group of sea birds that dispersed and flew up under a howl of protest. Fat tourists on Doom Buggies, hell bent on tearing up the environment. Got some good pictures to warn others of the implications of tourism on the environment.
And so back to Todos Santos, picture down-loading and the writing of Diaries, We need to get away reasonably early for our 300 mile drive to south of Mulege, for our night under canvas, so that lugging our tents around has not been a complete waste of time after all. I expect there to be no internet connection tonight.