Originally we had planned to move on to Saltillo today, but a closer look at Google Earth with all my cactus data switched on suggested that, plant wise, we should be heading south. Where to? Geohintonia mexicana looked attractive and the nearby town of Galeana was said to have at least four hotels on the Plaza, with wifi. All we needed to do was to decide on which route to take to get there.
We settled on Highway 85 South and then take minor roads west, just south of Montemorelos, to Rayones. Highway 85 is fast and runs along a plain, with mountains, the Sierra Madre Oriental, to the west, so we would be heading into the mountains.
S2272 are for pictures taken between the Hwy 85 exit and Rayones, mainly scenery shots as we climbed zigzags into the Sierra Madre Oriental. We also made a few brief stops as the road in places cut through the mountains to see Echeveria sp, Sedum sp and various Agave.
S2273 was supposed to be an Ariocarpus stop but the coordinates did not make sense when seen in the flesh. Had time changed the scene?
As we drove into Rayones, Eunice shouted ‘Stop! Cactus! Huge one!! There, on the hill (S2274), partly hidden by low shrubs, were dozens of Echinocactus platyacanthus. We had our pictures taken with these impressive giants, not knowing that they would follow at most stops over the coming week.
They were irresistible as, past Rayones towards another Ariocarpus stop, they came down the hill to the roadside. One or two had actually proven that living on the edge is not without its problems, as gravity had won and they lay by the side of the road. (S2275).
The sun was past it’s best when we reached the coordinates for S2276 for another attempt to find Ariocarpus scapharostris. My heart sank as we parked next to a huge CAT digger and watched a road building crew take down a small hill across the road and use it to replace the road that had been washed away. Progress has its cost. Fortunately the coordinates took us to another, undisturbed small hill with limestone and / or gypsum laid down in slate like fashion, but pushed with the thin sides up. Glad I did not have to walk barefoot across these razorblades. There was little evidence of plant life on this hill and we were about to give up when an unusual pattern in the regular shaped shadows of the slate caught my eye. Bingo!
Once we knew what we were looking for it became a bit easier as we spotted another dozen or so very dehydrated plants. Conscious of time pressures we regrettably said goodbye and considered that we could always come back tomorrow, as this site was only some 50 km from our intended hotel in Galeana.
We drove back through Rayones, quite pleased with today’s finds. Back at the cross roads out of town the sign post told us that it was only 28 km to Galeana. (pictures filed as S2277). Three hours later we realised that when the speedo indicates 10 kmph, that it really does take almost three hours to cover the 28 km, with the track at times practically non existent and at other times precariously close to deep ravines, with the sun, now very low in the sky, making it difficult to see where the road was, if indeed it was still there.
We arrived in Galeana near dusk, exhausted, and quickly cancelled any plans to take more pictures at S2276 tomorrow – that drive was enough of an adventure for this trip!