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Archive for March 17, 2011

Friday, 17 March, 2011 – Around Bustamante

In 2010 we had spent one night sleeping on the cold floor of a cold hall at Rancho Minas Viejas, the Old Mine Ranch, owned by a friend of the owners of the Hotel where we stay in town. Although the Hall is only some 20 km from the main road, the track up the hill is in places extremely testing, so that is takes over two hours to cover the distance. In 2010 we had two punctured tyres before getting back to the main road, so I was not looking forward to making the drive again, although the views and plants found on the way and at the top were well worth it.

I agreed that the ‘Ghost of the Double Puncture’ had to be laid to rest and the only way to do this was to repeat the drive and return with all four tyres still in tact.

There was really no reason to spend the night in the cold hall again so we returned back to the comfort of a hotel bed and restaurant food.

And why did we do this? The Minas Viejas is the type locality for a particularly nice new Agave, A. ovatifolia, known in US nurseries as the Whale’s Tongue Agave. This is a fairly recent (2002) described species but has been known about for many years when it was first brought from Mexico into the US by the late Lynn Lowery, who found it growing between 3,000′ and 7,000′ elevation. It was planted around Dallas and survived for decades unscathed by cold. Agave expert Greg Starr, curious to know its identity, retraced Lynn’s route and found the original population in Mexico. It looks like an Agave parryi on steroids, forming a 36″ tall x 5′ wide (in 5 years), symmetrical clump of wide grey leaves. It has proven to be one of the best agaves for cold, wet climates, far outperforming almost all other species and in its natural settings on limestone terraces, it makes a wonderful photogenic subject. All pictures today are all recorded as S2335 and I ignored most of the cacti and succulents already reported during our 2010 visit and focussed my mind and camera on the Agave to get some very nice pictures.

On return to Bustamante we just caught the daughter of the owner of our hotel before they intended to go home as there was hardly any business. They gladly opened up and we bought some replicas of Mayan art at very reasonable prices as well enjoying nice Mexican food.