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It was Saturday, so it rained – at least that seemed to be the case last Saturday as well. To be more correct, it had rained overnight in Baracoa, but was dry when we approached the car, laden with our luggage. Just as well, as a car park attendant (who had also washed our car overnight) pointed out that we had a flat tyre (left front). While Cliff went to work to change the tyre, Michael, seemingly recovered from his stomach upset, but still taking things easy, supervised, while I went to find out what a tyre repair service is called in Cuban. The word ‘Ponchero’ has been added to my vocabulary – amazing how this function is called by so many different names in the various Spanish speaking countries where we have used their services. This man seemed to do a roaring trade fixing bicycle tyres but his eyes lit up when we brought him a car tyre to fix. The damage to our pockets was CUC$ 10. I dare say that a Cuban would have paid a fraction of what we paid, but then again, we could not have a tyre fixed for under GBP in the UK, so everyone was happy. And the service was prompt and included replacing the original spare wheel with the one with the fixed tyre.

And so, we again made the journey through the hills, this time from the north side of the island to the southern coast. This time it rained, so that the pictures that I had promised myself on the two occasions when we made the journey in the opposite direction, were far fewer than I had anticipated.

Once along the coast road, we managed to cruise at around 100 km.p.hr. until I suggested a leg stretch if a cactus photo opportunity should arise. And so, again along the coast road, right along the Caribbean Sea  we made stop S1707. Nice plants in photogenic situations added some more nice pictures to our ever growing collection, but there were no new taxa to add to our list. The Melocactus was again a form of M. harlowii and, once I have plotted the GPS coordinates from my pictures to Google Earth, I will know which form they have been attributed to, by their geographic position. Mammillaria prolifera ssp haitensis that has been reported to grow all along the south east coast had once again escaped us. It seems that it is only prolific by name, not by number occurring here.

We made another attempt a little farther along, S1708, but no change in cactus flora.

The last stop today, S1709, was for a much darker green and almost spineless Nopalea sp. growing just at the edge of a small forest. Although the plant was full of flowers, we could not get close enough for close up pics, so these produced later from cropped images taken at the max 200 mm end of my zoom lens.

That was it for today as far as cactus pictures are concerned. We passed by Guantanamo, now that the novelty had worn off, and headed straight for Santiago de Cuba where tomorrow we still have a bit of south coast to explore for more forms of M. harlowii and may be a chance to reach the locality of M. harlowii ‘evae’ by approaching it from the west rather than from the Guantanamo Bay side.

Tonight’s hotel claims to have internet access, so we’ll try to send off a few Diary reports and emails.

Hooray!!! It seems to have worked!!!

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