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Happy birthday to Juan!

We started the birthday celebrations with another visit (S1897) to a familiar spot, just before the thermal power station that continues to belch out its ugly fumes. The Eriosyce (Thelocephala) napina were looking in excellent condition, but it seemed that flowering here had been over for some months. Juan reports that in July the foot of Cerro Colorades had been covered with white flowers belonging to a bulb sp.

Euphorbia thinophila, in full growth and in flower here in 2004, could still be found, now that we knew what we were looking for, but was no longer in flower.

The new coast road from Huasco to Caldera was now complete, so we decided to use this rather than to go back to R5. S1898 was at Quebrada Mala, where Copiapoa dealbata looked as magnificent as ever. I took some more pictures of Eulychnia breviflora in flower.

A bit further along Juan had spotted a bright red flower among the annuals that were now becoming more plentiful. (S1899). This was Leontochir ovallei, a rare member of the Alstroemeriaceae, and there were lots! Some were crawling along the ground, others were hanging down rocks, yet others had draped themselves artistically over the cacti. C. echinoides looked bursting with health, obviously having enjoyed a good drink in recent weeks.

S1900 gave us a sizeable patch of the purple haze – not as plentiful as in 2004, but impressive none the less. Great photos. But I somehow managed to leave my jumper among the flowers. It was destined to remain in Chile anyway, to be replaced with some new Llama / Alpaca jumpers later on.

S1901 was caused by a traffic sign, warning of cacti (!) that Juan had recognised as the place where Eriosyce (Thelocephala) were found on previous visits. Sure enough, without too much searching we found some large plants.

S1902 was for the usual C. calderana / E. (Thelocephala) kraussii.

S1903 was again a favourite: km 950, known as ‘Hoot The Virgin’, so named by us as the statue of the Virgin Mary overlooking the Ocean receives a blow on the claxon on any car that passes.

Complete plant lists of all these stops will be available later, or for those too impatient to wait, by searching through reports from previous Copiapathons.

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