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We discovered just why our hotel had been so cheap. The rooms were small and the sound proofing practically non existent. The room next door had a young family, with a baby at the teething stage, waking (us as well) up every hour or so and the parents relying on the TV (too loud) to induce sleep again. I used my iPod to provide music to block out the noise, but Cliff had a bad night.

We had decided to move on to Puquio that according to the map was ‘just’ 128 km away. Wrong, a sign post out of Nazca said 155 and proved to be correct. This had not been a fast road yesterday, as it twisted and turned up the mountains, although it did provide some glorious views. Being Sunday, there was little traffic around. Unfortunately Cliff’s bad night was catching up with him and affecting his digestive system (or vice versa), so that we made another stop at yesterday’s S1165, with Cliff leaving a deposit rather than taking pictures this time. I took some pictures of Tillandsia that I had missed yesterday.

Cliff really was not well enough to do our usual cactus stop walks, so we limited ourselves to some quick dashes out of the car to take pictures of cactus species that we had not seen before. At km 45 (S1166) we saw a huge Armatocereus – the sprawling type, that we had also seen earlier in the Pisco Valley. That day, rain stopped play and today there were very dark skies above where we were heading. Cumulopuntia sphaerica put in an appearance, but nowhere near as dense as it had been in Chile and Argentina.

The road rapidly deteriorated and it became a sport to miss all the pot holes. ‘Perhaps I should aim for them. If my success rate for that is as good as for missing them, we should have a smoother ride’ I suggested. ‘I thought that you were aiming for them.’ came Cliff’s reply, indicating that he was feeling marginally better.

By S1167 we had climbed to 3,577 m. and the Browningia had disappeared. We wondered if this meant that Oreocereus would soon take over and this stop confirmed that it does. The Database suggests that we should call this O. leucotrichus fa ritteri and it certainly fits into the concept of O. leucotrichus that we saw in northern Chile, where it also took over from Browningia candelaris. But were as the fruits of O.leucotrichus appear to release their seeds through a basal pore, the fruits here seemed to split along the side of the fruit. We later discussed the feature with Paul Hoxey who confirmed this and believes that this justifies the repositioning of the taxon as a good species in its own right.

There was also another ceroid here and more for the record than for any other reason, I took its picture too. Looking at the images on the laptop and zooming in on the buds make me feel sorry that I did not pay more attention. You’d swear that this was an Eulychnia acida fa in bud! Now that would be a novelty! In Chile we also Corryocactus brevistylus growing alongside the Oreocereus. Putting this stop data into Google Earth and The Data Base records with GPS data tell me that C. brevistylus does grow here and that I should have found Matucana haynei fa hystrix here as well. I’ll do better next time, promise.

Just before Puquio we passed through Lucanas, but Cliff was not up to any more exploring, just wanted to get some sleep, instead of having his bones rattled on the road. Planted along the road was Austrocylindropuntia subulata (ssp. exaltata is suggested by The Database, but it doesn’t look like what was grown under that name at Holly Gate. This looks like straight forward A. subulata to me). And there was also an Echinopsis (Trichocereus) growing along the road, for which the name E. puquiensis is suggested, although I have no idea what the NCL calls it. It looks similar to what we saw around Cuzco last year and called E. cuzcoensis. [PK PS: The NCL records E. puquiensis as a synonym of E. cuzcoensis.]

As we approached Puquio, the sky had turned ink black and we arrived in town driving through a river rather than the road. We found rooms in the aptly named Hostal Maverick, where we were given a room on the 4th floor, even though we were unable to detect any other guests. Cliff went straight to  bed, giving me a chance to write up 2 day’s worth of Diaries, but unfortunately again there is no Internet in the hotel and the rain makes it very unattractive to find an internet cafe in town. We’ll do better once we reach Cuzco, where everything is much more tourist focussed.

PS Interesting night as the hotel seems to have a dual purpose and the Peruvians are rehearsing for the Olympic Bonking event. Once again, the iPod blanked out the noise, but Cliff again claims a sleepless night – although he does snore a lot for someone who can’t sleep.

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