Once again the LHR – MEX flight took exactly one hour less to land than scheduled. So we had to wait for Alain’s flight that was now due one hour after us and for Bart, who had set his alarm clock ion the hotel airport for our published arrival time.
Neither mattered, as Ian had switched car provider to Dollar, who were slightly cheaper, had to wait for their stand to open at 7:00. So Alain, Bart & I were off after arranging to meet at a set of GPS coordinates along the MEX 120.
Bart drove for the first day, taking the more than tricky Mexico City stage. Some how we managed to avoid all the cars that seemed sure to be aiming for us. I heaved a sigh of relief as we found ourselves on MEX57 and at least all the cars were going the same way. Around 9:00 we stopped for fuel and breakfast and it was still early as we turned off on to the 120 at San Juan del Rio.
We had were overtaken by Ian’s car party with Cliff and Sarda, but passed them again when they stopped to buy a month’s supply of oranges at a roadside stop. It appeared that there were two tracks to the site, we overshot the first one and took the second and so missed meeting the others at the first stop (S3147). Stenocactus sp , Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Corypantha sp and Ferocactus latispinus (just one plant, in bud) were found, with Mammilaria painteri also reported by the others.
With still plenty of tome to spare, we decided to drive on to the Zimapan lake and repeated last March’s experience stopping at the same spot (S3148) as in March to find Mammillaria perbella, M. elongata subsp echinaria, Neolloydia conoidea, Coryphantha octacantha (I have not yet counted the spines to confirm the name). I surprised myself by retracing a small Ferocactus glaucesence, growing in the shade of an overhanging rock, with a wonderful glaucus epidermis. In nature they tend to look more beaten up when exposed in full to the Mexican sun.
We drove down to the lake, passed through the tunnel and turned back again, along the road we had come, to the last stop made in March, full of Thelocactus leucacanthus (not in flower this time) and Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus ‘elephantidens’. These are the target for this trip, or rather, catching them in flower. They had had the required rain and the whole scenery was much more lush than in March, making it much more difficult to find the Arios. Once we got our eyes in, they were quite easy to find again – there were so many – but only few plants were in bud. One plant had flowered – pale pink – but wildlife had nibbled away most of the petals. Good tip – don’t expect the plants too look as they do in pots in our collection, unless slugs and snails visit your collection.
And on to the Hotel Boca Sierra in Vizzaron where Ian, Sarda and Cliff had already secured the rooms to our liking, so a quick shower and off to dinner, where Cliff and Bart had two very interesting looking fish.
It seemed as though we were here only yesterday!