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Wrong! We did not go back to S1342. I should have mentioned though that the Fouquieria splendens at S1342 had white rather than red flowers – something that Ian had told me to look out for after an Alan Phipps talk in Exeter.

But we had such a good time these last two days that we decided to have another night at Gomez Palacio and spent the day driving north, out of the town on MEX 40 until the town of Bermejillo where we turned left (west) on to MEX 30. After a few miles,  was our first stop, S1343, across the road from the Bermejillo cemetery. This was the other Ariocarpus intermediate location that we had in the database, spirits were high when we got to the place. It was fenced off and along Mex 30, a fairly main road, but quiet on a Sunday morning. There was a gently sloping area alongside a fairly steep hillside and Alain, Cliff and I explored both, while Eunice felt uncomfortable about going on to private land and stayed near the car. We all felt that the area was ‘rightish’ for Ariocarpus (limestone rock and gently sloping silt like areas) but that the time was wrong – at home, Arios tend to be dormant until late summer (August – September) and flower in October. Whether the theory was right or not, we failed to find any Arios but did find Agave, Yucca and Opuntia sps. plus Echinocereus sp. #1 (enneacanthus?) and E. sp. #2 (stramineus?), Escobaria sp., Mammillaria sp. (heyderi? or meiacantha?), M. pottsii, Sclerocactus uncinatus and Thelocactus bicolor, so not a bad stop.

S1344 was along MEX 13 at km 13. No fences! We found all the same plants as at S1343, plus Ferocactus hamatacanthus – including a huge specimen made up of a number of heads that measured 170 cm from one end to the other – we have the pictures to prove it! E. enneacanthus (?) was here forming large clumps with some flowers and one of the Opuntia sp. was also flowering in abundance. Were there steroids in the soil here?

We decided to carry on up MEX 30 and were treated to a military security stop – quite intimidating as all soldiers wore facemasks, so that any ‘baddies’ could not recognise them and single them out later, and carried larger than life assault rifles and machine guns. Their commander spoke fairly good English and was keen to re-assure us that there was no problem, just a routine check and asked us if we had experienced any problems in Mexico, plus added that tourists still go to countries like Israel where there is much more violence. We reassured him that we had found Mexico great, friendly and welcoming. Why wouldn’t we? We had not had any bad experiences plus they had the guns!

We drove on to km 50, (S1345) where the hills (Sierra del Rancho Espiritu Santo)more or less met the road. We had become spoilt and found many of the cacti and succulents before – the list is long and those who are interested will get the full plant list once it is ready on my return to the UK.

The last stop of the day (S1346) was a ‘tourist stop’ and why not! A few km east of Mapimi is the Puente Colgante de Ojuela. Rather than me explaining all about it, read for yourself (in Spanish!) and look at the pictures at:

  http://www.torreon.gob.mx/laciudad/turismo/alrededores/ojuela.php

Here we saw Yucca sp #1 & 2 but were distracted by the 318 m long bridge hanging over a 98 m deep canyon, and by young folks (God that sounds nas though I’m getting old), making the return journey by hanging from a pulley attached to a cable across the canyon. We thought about having a go as well, but were happy to see that the queues were far too long.

We had a reasonably early night back, arriving at the hotel before dark.

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