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No, I had not forgotten about today! Some days we either have no time to put pen to paper (i.e. fingers to the keyboard) while on days like today, the rumoured wifi is just not up to the task of writing and publishing the blog. Tonight was such a night, so I’m writing this missive sitting in front of the telly in the comfort of my living room in cold(ish) wet and dark England, from memory, which my friends and travel companions frequently remind me is not as good as it used to be, Fortunately I can’t remember how good my memory might have been or when. That’s life!

So today’s notes are prepared by using the  133 images taken at seven brief stops as we took a look at for us unknown territory as we entered the Mexican State of Zacatecas. There was not much I knew about this state, apart that a cactus named after this State used to feature in in C&S quizzes as the cactus taxon with the longest binomial name: Echinofossulocactus zacatecasensis, before it was re-classified as a Stenocactus. Many quiz masters must have heaved a sigh of relief. I wonder what the longest binomial cactus name is today, and for how long.

Why are we here? At Ian’s request, to try and see an ‘Echinomastus’ species so probably a Sclerocactus these days. Trouble was that he could not remember the plant’s name, did not know what it looked like, except that it had beautiful central spines and did not know exactly where it grew, other than ‘on flat lands around Cedros in the State of Zacatecas. Did we find it? May be. I spotted a plant that I could not ID, called over my fellow experts and had no choice but accept the general opinion that my plant was ‘just’ a Coryphantha species. Since then I discovered a website dedicated to the genus Echinomastus and found the Echinomastus gallery run by Christophe Ludwig from Soufflenheim, France that contains a large number of pictures of  images of grafted pot grown plants, raised from ex-habitat material. Some of these look as though their names could be candidates for the plant I saw. Then again, it could just be it is ‘just’ a Coryphantha. Judge for yourself: Christophe’s website is at http://cludwigfr.dyndns.org/gallery.asp?d=%5CEchinomastus&p= and the plant that I photographed in a large flat area near Cedros, Zacatecas is shown below.

Did I find an Echinomastus sp or 'just' a Coryphantha sp at Cedros, ZAC?

Did I find an Echinomastus sp or ‘just’ a Coryphantha sp at Cedros, ZAC? (S3193)

So what about the other six stops?

S3189 was near General Cepeda, COAH where we looked for Ariocarpus retusus ‘furfuraceus’

S3190 was off MEX54, the Saltillo to Zacatecas Highway, near San Juan del Retiro where I photographed a Mam. sp, Echinocactus platyacanthus, Coryphantha sp, Mam. pottsii, Fouqueria splendens (no leaves), Ariocarpus retusus, in flower, but with most of the petals nibbled off, Sclerocactus (Ancistrocactus) uncinatus and Echinocereus enneacanthus,

S3191 near  Bonanza, where we hummed and whistled the theme tune of the Western series from the 1960s and saw the same plants again, plus Opuntia microdasys plus Stenocactus sp.

S3192 near Matamoros with Cylindropuntia sp,, Opuntia sp., Echinocereus enneacanthus, huge Ferocactus pilosus, and where Cliff managed to get an Acacia spine stuck in one of the tyres. A Vulka was soon found and when the thorn was pulled out of the tyre, it soon took on the flat appearance that required some patching up. The problem was quickly fixed and with the trip now over, I can reveal that this was the only puncture between our two cars during the 5319 km that our car covered, with the other car doing a bit less, as the occupants had to return three days earlier. Not bad compared to the number of punctures reported by others!

S3194 was for a snake that those in the lead car saw being run down by an oncoming motorbike. The snake was taking a breather and seemed just dazed. We were not risking getting too close, just in case it wanted to take revenge.

S3195 was near Mazapil, off the Concepcion Del Oro to Tecoclotes road. SatNav was very confused here as it seems that all roads had been altered here recently when gold was found here. The controversial development by a Canadian Mining company sees them accused of exploitation of the poor local farmers. It seems that they are prepared for tempers to flare up as there were armed guards all round the long perimeter.

We stayed in a truck stop hotel restaurant on the MEX54. At least the restaurant claimed to have wifi.

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