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Archive for March 20, 2008

Thursday, 20 March 2008 – Todos Santos to camping south of Mulege

‘1471 km to Tijuana’, said the sign outside Todos Santos. A daunting number and a reminder, if one was needed, that we were on the way home, having reached the farthest point south yesterday as we passed by Cabo San Lucas.

Not only did we set ourselves the challenge of driving 568 km (355 miles) today, but our destination were the golden sand beaches along the Sea of Cortez and Bahia Concepcion. There was one particular beach, with a thin sand bank connecting a small island to the main land that had taken our fancy on the way south.

But first we had to get there and hopefully see some plants on the way.  S918 was prompted by a large Agave with the appropriate name of A. gigantea, but also had the usual cacti alongside: various Cylindropuntias, Pachycereus pecten-arboriginum and P. pringlei, P. thurberi and some Bursera trees. And all before we had to tackle the Lap Paz by-pass again! We had now become expert in spotting the landmarks (a large beer can sign on the left of the road) instead of the expected sign posts. We again hit a section of dirt road but carried on confidently to get out on the dual carriage way that lead to the large monument depicting the doves of peace, a symbol of La Paz which means ‘Peace’ in Spanish. Alain and I had earlier thought that the monument was the tail fluke of a whale – never mind.

I don’t know what had prompted S919, where the pictures taken show a Bursera sp., Cylindropuntia sp. and Mammillaria sp. but none of them exceptional or new. Perhaps, after some 3 hours of driving, we just needed to stretch our legs.

We had breakfast at El Taste, in Cd. Constitución, where we also had breakfast on the way down and from where Ian managed to call his wife, Sarda, to wish her happy birthday.

S920 had P. gummosus, P. pringlei, P. thurberi, Mammillaria aff. dioica, Ferocactus peninsulae and Opuntia invicta in bud. We were now crossing the rocky hills south of Loreto, and made up for the lack of plant stops by photographing some nice scenic views.

We were beginning to catch glimpses of the Sea of Cortez and also spotted yellow spined clumps of Echinocereus brandegeei and decided it was time for another stop, S921. As we had seen this Echinocereus before, I took my time to improve on previous pictures by looking for the most dramatic settings of plants on the rocks, together with other cacti (Mammilaria sp.) where possible. One of the golden spined Cylindropuntia was in flower here and offered lots of photo opportunities for bees who jumped straight in between the stamens and rolled among the pollen to their hearts content, emerging with the pollen baskets on their hind legs fully loaded.

Back in the car, the outside temperature sensor confirmed what we knew already – it was bloody hot, with figures ranging from 92 to 97 F. No wonder that we kept the plant stops fairly short.

S922 was our campsite – not the place we had in mind, which had been jam packed with tents, reminding us that this was the Thursday before Easter.  Our next goal was a little bay with a hotel where we had called in for enquiries on the way south. They charged US$10 (GBP 5) for
us to put up our tent, a charge that seemed to put off Mexican campers, as the beach was virtually empty. Those that have been on cactus trips in the past will know what follows.

We had bought charcoal for the campfire, tents were pitched with amazing efficiency, Ian demonstrated where Master Chef gets its inspiration from by doing amazing things with a potato, onions and God knows what else, wrapped in aluminium foil. I tested the bottle of Conch Y Toro
Cabernet Sauvignon, to confirm that it was as good as I remembered it in Chile while the others improvised on making Margaritas. It was a full moon and I have some reasonable shots of the moon over the bay. We then recorded the antics as Cliff, now truly Margaritaed, attempted entry to his tent, first forward, than backwards. My ribs still ache from laughing.

Memories of another night to add to those in Chile.