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Greetings from Hotel Rocas de Bahia, in Bahia Inglesa, where Juan and I have room 57 on the 5th floor, overlooking the swimming pool and a view of Morro Copiapó from the balcony. John and Mark are in room 11 near reception.

The day started with a slight shock when we discovered that Hotel Plaza does not accept credit cards – we had assumed it did, so we had to pay CLP 270,000 for 5 nights for 2 rooms in cash. Soon sorted, as John and Mark had spare US$ and I had more than enough Chilean to cover my share of the cost. Well, we should have checked when we signed in.

John had asked to take another look on Mt Perales. The track is no better than it was before. It was a bit ‘scrapy’ at times, the bottom of the car must be nice and clean. Mark was keen for me to get closer to the mountain side, away from the edge. The first time, in 2001, we saw ‘Cacti Above The Clouds’. This time (S2039) it was Cacti In The Clouds – poor light for photography and quite chilly.  We only stayed about 30 minutes. There are more masts and the fog nets are down, looks like the wind did its worst. Copiapoa in nets was a novelty picture but I don’t think that it will catch on. Everything was in flower (annuals) and the cacti looked in great health.

We made a brief stop at the ‘best cinerea corner’ about 2/3rds up (S2040). Excellent plants and covered in field flowers. Just as we thought about moving on there was a huge truck crawling up the hill, carrying 3 barrels of water – no idea who they were for – probably a mine down the ridge road. We were parked so the truck was no problem.

A bit lower down, the man, donkey and now a huge pig still live at ‘Three Palms’ and the place still looks a mess.

 

By 11 we were on the road to Chañaral, did our usual turn into Pan de Azucar, said Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to Smiler (S2041) and took his picture again (it is a he I guess?)

Just after 12 we arrived in Chañaral for a Hot Dog at the Copec. Then a nice stop just north of Caldera where we stopped in 2006, at the time there was a C. calderana growing in a shell, just like a plant bowl (this time S2042). It’s been very overcast all day, so we did not get the best light for show stopper photography

John and Mark, otherwise great at finding Thelocephala were unable to find any T. kraussi. I told them that they were not trying and I’d find some within 10 steps from the car. Pure bluff, so I could not believe my luck when after ten steps I found a 10 headed clump! They could not believe it either, when I said that there would be more within 10 steps from this plant, so John was amazed that after taking 8 steps there was another many headed plant, then another and another and then we got bored 🙂

And so I’m now sitting at the empty pool side at Rocas de Bahia. Empty of people, but full of water, waiting to go for a drink and a stroll into town for dinner. It’s a hard life!

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