First thing Cliff and Ian went to search for a Vulka to sort out our tyre. They were back too soon – bad news, yesterday’s puncture had turned into a write off – our only luck had been that it lasted until we parked up at the hotel. The boys returned to break the news and planned to leave for Monclova to purchase a new one. While Cliff was breaking the bad news to me, Ian was chatting to one of the hotel staff who suggested he knew a place in town that could help us. Sure enough, the three went off and came back with a good quality but slightly wider second. Job done.
In the mean time I had enquired about the availability of breakfast and was given a firm, ‘Yes, of course!’ This was followed by various members of staff being dispersed on shopping trips and the cook was called in. Eventually we sat down to a Full Mexican and then we set off.
Our target plant had been in doubt even during our planning stages in the UK. Thelocactus lausseri is only known from a private property (probably the size of Wiltshire) north of Cuatro Cienegas. We had coordinates for the gate, but it was known that the owner did not entertain cactophile callers. Well the news is that there are now gates 8.5 km from the gates for which we had the coordinates and that they were double padlocked. So that was as far as it went for T. lausseri this time.
Expecting this outcome I had lined up some visits to local stops that had impressed me on previous visits. The first was one for Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus where in the past we had followed the SatNav to reach the coordinates, open the car door and found that we had a few of the plants right below us. The same happened again this time. Unbelievable how many plants there were here for a plant that is CITES I status is Appendix I – Extremely endangered. But then it only takes one developer to see the potential of using the land to cover the area with solar panels to destroy all the Arios.
We moved (for the first time) closer to the mountains surrounding this area. It is easy to assume when you see the dried up marsh area (Cuatro Cinegas = 4 marshes) covered in Arios to assume that they cover the whole of the area, but walking from the foothills back into the dried up marsh revealed no Arios for up to a thousands meters. Just some Coryphantha poselgeriana and Echinocereus enneacanthus.
Next stop was the Fouquieria shreveii stop from 2010, with plants in full flower. Interesting, unusual plants but nothing else.
Finally, Ian had mentioned as we drove off road to the kotschoubeyanus site (unpaved track this time) unto MEX 30 that he had spotted what he thought were Astrophytum capricorne. We indulged his fantasies with a stop and found a large number of large Astros – well done Ian, fantastic eyesight for a youngster!
Then it was back to our hotel, where we nervously check the state of the tyres, just in case. All good so far…..