We were late leaving Matehualla, due to Eunice not feeling well. A glass of Apple cider vinegar (yuch!!!) put her right again. We decided to make our first stop a localish one to see how things settled down. We were at a location for Turbinicarpus macrochele, but again the Turbs keep eluding us. We did find a dozen or more Lophophora, to prove that our eyes and noses were working. Also found Coryphantha sp, Sclerocactus uncinatus, Echinocereus pentalophus and Agave lechuguilla and probably A. americana. So not a bad spot.
This (S2298) was a JM (John Miller) stop, but again from some 10 years ago; proof that a lot can happen in the mean time. The locality looked identical to that in the Turbinicarpus of SLP book. Normally with a JM stop you can walk to the coordinates in blind faith that the plants are there, fall to your knees to give thanks while taking its picture at the same time. Not here. We had set a time limit – as you can easily spend a week here and not find the plants even if they were there.
As we drove off, we considered what to do next. I was mindful that we were half way through this trip and had not yet gotten to our turn around point. So we agreed to head south along Hwy 57, to San Luis Potosi.
The two Google Earth images show part of our problems that we have had since getting into Mexico. Image 1 shows the 200 km stretch between Matehualla and SLP.
At an average of 60 mph this was a two-hour journey. Should we make some more stops? Was there anything interesting along the way? Where? The next image, covering the same area, shows the locations that we passed. We could have taken a week to cover the distance and still not have seen the majority of cactus taxa in the database. In addition, Eunice has location data on Agave and Crassulaceae inthe same area – but there was no room on the map to show them!
We made one more stop, at Nuñez, using Eunice’s information for an Echeveria.
On the hills on the other side of the highway were a handful of coordinates for Ariocarpus bravoanus. If they were across the road, they would probably be on our side as well. We drove around the small village’s dirt track to find a way up into the hill and in the end met up with some ladies pushing a cart up the track. ‘How do we get to the Camino Blanco?’ we asked, feeling quite chuffed with ourselves, to ask the way in Spanish. We were less prepared for the avalanche of Spanish that came back but understood that we had to drive along the highway (opposite direction, on a dirt track), then turn through a white gate (they caught up with us at the gate and let us through) and into the mountains. The track seemed to go round the hill rather than up it, so some 400m from the coordinates. We parked the car (S2299) and Eunice walked up, while I had a look around nearer the car.
My search produced Echinocereus pectinatus? rigidissimus? some in flower, most in bud; Ferocactus pilosus, some over 2 m. tall and also in bud and flower, lots of Echinocactus platyacanthus – one almost as tall as my 1.92 m (6 ft 4″) frame and at least 4 times my girth – huge. The question of age again went through my mind. There was also a Mammilaria that I’ll need to find a name for.
Then the horrible drive through Ciudad San Luis Potosi (almost 1 million inhabitants) in rush hour! Well done, Eunice! Found accommodation – again very comfortable – at the Holiday Inn Express, on the main road out south. Tomorrow we should reach our final destination – accommodation wise, then try to find Turbinicarpus alonsoi, either tomorrow as well or the day after. Fingers crossed after our (bad) luck so far with Turbs. Can’t grumble on the other cacti front though, as you can see below.