Yes, we’re back in Galeana, this time for a two night stay. We’re staying in Hotel Jardin Colonial on the Plaza, the same hotel that we stayed in in 2011. Like other places where I had stayed before, this hotel too has enjoyed a facelift and upgrades to decor and bathroom facilities. Sadly the improvements do not extend to a lift to the tird floor that we reach via the narrowest of stairways.
But I race ahead again. Using data that I had loaded to Google Earth I had selected three stops on what seemed to be a decent enough road between Ramos Arizpe and Rayones. Paper maps can be deceiving as indeed can SatNav systems. Put a cartographer (Ian) into the mix, who would claim that while SatNav suggested ‘right’, his instincts said ‘left’ and you can imagine that we saw a fair amount of the area on more than one occasion today. And yet tempers, as on the whole of the trip, stayed very pleasant, after all, we were driving around in the sun, surrounded by cacti, with some expectation to see cacti as yet not seen by us in nature, ahead of us.
Once we had left suburbian Saltillo behind us and were heading south on Mex 57, all four information sources agreed on where to go and where to turn off. Apart from some minor differences of opinion, this continued on the tracks. The car has its own SatNav bolted in to it and this could not be removed when we explained that we had brought our own. Ironically it is branded as the ‘Hertz Never Lost’. Yeah, right! Both SatNavs, or rather the servers that provide them with satellite data seem to be aware of one way streets, taking the view that there is a 50% chance that you can enter any road in town or village. Of course 50% of the time they are wrong, so we’ve learned to carefully nose the car around a corner to see which way the parked cars are pointing or for signs of other moving traffic. So far, so good.
And so we eventually reached the first selected location, having earlier made a stop for a large Ferocactus pilosus, (S3096 for a sort of group photo and some flat-to-the-ground Mammillaria and Ancistrocactus scheerii (?) plants, in bud, hiding underneath shrubs and in the grass.
Our selected spot(S3097) did not look very promising, we had been driving through very similar vegetation for hours, so what was different here? Within seconds of leaping into the field, Ian had found Turbinicarpus (Gymnocactus) beguinii, in bud and then in flower. After the initial wave of picture taking we straightened our backs and asked:’What about Echinocereus knippelianus?’ I suggested that it would have to be in flower for us to spot it. Seconds later, Cliff reported that it was! In flower! At his feet! As again we sank to our knees to take it’s picture, Ian spotted the only specimen that we saw that was not in flower, barely visible until we had made some horticultural adjustments to the scene by removing some grass. Not only do we not collect plants – we also leave the location well tended.
Just as pretty, and more plentiful were the Stenocactus, seeming to prefer open patches of grassland, again in full bloom, often with 3-4 flowers per plant rather than the solitary flowers on the Echinocereus. All good things come to an end and it was time to move on again.
Our next stop had been earmarked for Ariocarpus scapharostris, close to Rayones, but it seemed that we were in one valley, with the good road to the spot I had visited in 2011 running through one nearby, parallel, but divided by tall tree covered mountains with very few tracks crossing them. As a result, instincts and SatNavs clashed leading to endless ‘Make a U-turn’ instructions from the machines.
S3098 was a quick stop for another Turbinicarpus (Gymnocactus) beguinii in flower.
Finally the sound of air escaping under pressure from our front tyre brought us back down to earth (S3099). Luggage out, old tyre off, new tyre on, luggage back into the car – it has become a well rehearsed exercice.
Back on the road, we decided to invoke yet another form of navigation: ask people you meet along the way! This worked much better, so that we reached Galeana well before dark.
Tomorrow’s first task is to get the tyre fixed or replaced – on a Sunday morning! Good luck is needed.