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Archive for December 5, 2010

Sunday, 5 December, 2010 – Malargüe to Chos Malal

It’s Sinterklaas Dag in the Netherlands and surrounding civilised countries. Kids are on their best behaviour because tonight the Goedheiligman and his (politically incorrect) Zwarte Pieten helpers, will be bringing presents to all children who have been well behaved during the last year.

Our ‘present’ today consisted of six stops, starting with S2096 where we soon decided to wear our hats under our shirts for fear of having them blown off our heads. The wind gusts were unbelievable and made sure that we did not go too near to the edge of the cliff. Talking of Cliff, Juan took a picture showing him about to push me down a 100 m. drop! Good to know who your friends are.

Despite the seemingly unsuitable environment for cacti here, Juan and John soon found some very dehydrated plants that we believe are Austrocactus patagonica.

Huge stands of Mimulus sp. with yellow trumpet flowers with a dark centre made us stop for S2097. A quick, more detailed look revealed that yesterday’s Viola was also present. And some small miniatures yet to be identified, including another, small Mimulus sp. possibly M. luteus. John ‘scored’ a bulb. And cacti were represented by Maihueniopsis darwinii (?) and Maihuenia patagonica.

‘Always include something in your pictures that allows the viewer to judge size’ is a common photography tip. At S2098, goats were disappearing behind mounds of M. patagonica. If I could have driven a Volkswagen beetle in, it would probably also have been hidden from view! These were seriously big! We made a group photo here, but standing behind a relatively low clump. John proved its toughness by standing on top of a mound and promptly regretted it, having to get a pair of pliers to extract half a dozen spines that had embedded in the soles of his boots. Some had gone all the way through! There was also a Portulacaceae sp in flower and as that Family is closely related to the Cactaceae, it seemed worthwhile to take a few pictures. The Violas were still present too.

Back on the plain (S2099) Maihuenia darwinii ssp hickenii was on show – brilliant yellow flat spines! Also found Pterocactus sp. (P. fischerii?)

S2100 was a scenery – no cacti found stop and S2101 was a repeat of S2099 plus Austrocactus patagonicus (?) and it was in flower! Very densely spined!

Not a bad way to spend St. Nikolaas day!