I ventured out for breakfast by myself as the others were still full from last night’s dinner and drinks. A bunch of teenage schoolgirls were giggling at me and pointed to my beard, an unusual sight in these parts of Mexico, and asked to take my picture. Sure! They were still there as we loaded up the car and now with my camera, I took a picture of them. Later we entered the state of Tamaulipas and the presence of armed forces increased steeply. This included inspection points where we were pulled over. Where are you from, was the question. Galeana would have done, but when Ian volunteered ‘Inglaterra’, the gents wanted to see passports. Cliff and I had our entry visas in our passports, but Ian had put his ‘in a safe place’, so that little beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead. He claims that I was not helping by suggesting that a few nights in prison would be even cheaper than some of the hotels where we had been staying. To divert the attention from his misplaced visa, when the police wanted to check the images on our cameras, Ian volunteered that I had been taking pictures of young girls on the square at Galeana. A career in the British diplomatic core is now out of the question for Ian, but the comments went straight over their heads fortunately. All images from the above incidents are filed under S3104. The entry visa was eventually found, so we will never know from this trip how Mexican cells get marked on Tripadvisor. After much driving – we were leaving the Sierra Madre Oriental and just like over a week and a bit ago, were heading to the relative lowlands of Tamaulipas. As we descended from c 1800 we could look down on the clouds below us. Minutes later we were in them and the temperature dropped by some 10 C. Windscreen wipers were switched on to keep the drizzle off, just like the UK. As we approached the first Astrophytum stop, disappointment. The track that we were supposed to turn on to no longer existed – well the data was more than 10 years old! We had more luck at the second spot (S3105). Our target plant was reported to grow with Thelocactus bicolor ssp schwarzii, and these could be seen from the car as Cliff was parking.
As soon as we had crossed a fence, the surprise of the day as we found Ariocarpus trigonus that we had been unaware of for this stop. A bonus!
It took a while longer to find the actual target plant for this stop – Astrophytum asterias. Quite young plants looking like they were seedlings straight off the sales bench at a nursery in Europe.
As we had approached this site we had seen the heads of a Pilosocereus poke above the tops of the low trees. Now, with the star (astro) of the day found, we made time for a brief stop (S3106) and pictures. Pilosocereus palmeri and Pilosocereus (Cephalocereus) leucocephalus are reported on Google as having been reported from Tamaulipas, as useful pointer for some hunting through books, back home. It turns out that P. palmeri is a synonym of P. leucocephalus. Wow, two ‘names’ in one go!