Friday, 21 March 2008 – Mulege to San Ignacio
It was surprisingly cold during the night, but we had drunk enough ‘anti-freeze’ not to be bothered by it, except for Cliff, who had asked me to buy him a large air mattress that would support his weight. Eunice had taken me to a shop in Carlsbad, USA, where we had bought a Queen-size air bed with a pump that ran from the car cigarette lighter. Problem was that a) the nozzle that would have fitted the airbed was missing and b) the
airbed was too large, so that it had to be inflated inside the tent, after which Cliff had been unable to zip down the tent flap.
We decided that for those who wanted breakfast, this could wait until we reached Mulege, some 30 km up the road (Alain, we ate at Restaurant Jalisco, just inside the new ridiculous looking arch into the town).
As we drove past the other coves along the Sea of Cortez, the tents and cars packed along the seafront confirmed how lucky we had been with our spot last night.
By 8:46 we stopped (S923) for P. pringlei in full bud and some flowers. Pachycereus (Lophocereus) schottii was also in flower, confirming my suspicions that it is an early morning flowerer and that it closes its flowers when it gets too hot. Mammillaria were here as usual, looking as though they would be aff. dioica, but impossible to say without flowers or fruit. Some formed large clumps with small heads while others
were solitary and growing to 15 cm (6″) tall.
I swapped seats with Cliff, so that I could keep my promise to Alain to take a picture of the traffic sign on the outskirts of Santa Rosalia, warning motorists of vibrators in the road. These were not the battery hungry utensils that ladies may be familiar with, but large metal balls, placed several rows deep into the tarmac, to take the place of ‘topes’ (sleeping policemen) as a traffic calming device. They shake the car and passengers up pretty good if negotiated at too high a speed, hence their name.
Next stop, S924, was at the turning off MEX1 to a string of three volcanic cones called Las Tres Virgenes. Temperatures were already in the upper 80s Fahrenheit and with the hangover from last night’s camping feast, we only stopped long enough to see and photograph Echinocereus brandegeei (here growing on flat soil rather than its rocky slopes habitat further south), Opuntia invicta and Pachycereus pringlei, both in bud. I
found Cliff inspecting a 5′ 6″ tall stem of P. pringlei that had retained its long, usually juvenile spination, while other specimen of similar age around it had already formed their much shorter spines. The Ferocactus here (F. peninsulae) had very long spines, even on young plants; yet another thing to be weary of as we struggled our way through spiny Acacia shrubs and chollas that wanted to come home with us. Cliff found that one of the vicious hooked Fero spines had gone straight through the thick sole of his walking boot and into his foot.
The last plant stop of the day, S925, was prompted by some Agave that Ian had spotted for Eunice. When we managed to find a place to pull off MEX1, it seemed to be in the middle of a rubbish tip, with nappies, toilet paper and plastic and glass bottles decorating the cacti – who needs civilisation!?! The spines on the Ferocactus here were still getting longer, Opuntia invicta was getting larger, E, brandegeei was not as nice here
as the golden spined clumps near Mulege and I found a young stem of P.pringlei that looked more like a South American Eulychnia or Trichocereus than anything else that I had seen in Baja. For the record, we also saw Mammilaria, Pedithelantus, Cylindropuntia, Fouqueria, Yucca sp.
As we arrived in San Ignacio, we pulled into the Oasis Motel, but as there was no one in reception, we moved on. Back to the trusted but expensive Desrt Inn, with its wifi in reception. Yes, they had rooms for two nights. Although it was only early afternoon, we were glad to have the assurance of a bed, air conditioning, showers and the ability to send Diary pages home.
After a couple of hours rest, we went into San Ignacio vilage, for the tourist shots of the Mision building and to book up a whaling tour for tomorrow. The place where we booked our February trip was closed, but the other place, with an excellent selection of books, was open and this time a much more efficient member of staff confirmed that they could fit us in tomorrow, for the same price as in February and they would pick us up and drop us back off at the Desert Inn!
Next we headed for Renee’s, not the best Restaurant in the world, but it was open and the beer was wet and the food filled a gap. Back afterwards to the hotel where people took naps and showers, ready for an early start tomorrow.