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The ‘rolled up piza in a roll’ that we had last night had not agreed with Bart, who after several visits to the toilet and running a bit of a temperature decided to have a rest day, while Alain and I visited Xichu for a look at the Turbinicarpus alonsoi.

The first images of the day were again a study in Topes, the humps and bumps that certainly don’t benefit travellers in cars with back problems. Here I focussed on the metal balls, half burried that cause a jarr to the back bone.

S3212 was a No Cactus stop in the Zona de Niebla in the Valle de Xichu, as I misjudged the next stop S3213, where we checked on the Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii seen here on previous occasions. They were still there, although I’m not sure for how much longer as rocks along the road seem to be ground down and used to build the roads and reinforce more formidable rock faces. There was a lot of evidence of rock fall during this trip – signs of regular minor earth quakes or of a reduction in the budgets to clear the roads from natural erosion?

S3214 combined pictures of plants growing along the rock cutting as we drove out of Xichu towards the T. alonsoii. Here too the roadside rocks had been cut up to make space for concrete poles to cary elecytricity and / or telephony I assume. There certainly was not the variety of plants here that we had seen in March. Waling into the canyon where the plants grew it did not take long to find the first plants. They looked to have had a good year and were plumped up, but not in flower. On the opposite, shaded wall, there were mopre Mammillaria schiedeana than I remember seeing before – all small UK nursery seized , I do not recall seeing large plants in nature. These plants seem to live ion almost permanent shade, so don’t be fooled in giving these Mexican plants the full sun treatment in the UK.

Mammillaria schiedeana (S3214)

Mammillaria schiedeana (S3214)

As we were about to to return to the car, Alain mentioned that we had company. As I looked in the direction indicated I saw a white somprero ducking behind the shrubs. I called out ‘Buenos dias, Senor’ but there was no reply. We carried on strolling back, taking pictures of plants spotted as we went. Near the canyon’s exit our Mexican frien reappeared and gave us a talk in much too fast Spanish for us to understand that we needed permission to be on this private land. We were surprised that this was private land as, unlike his land across the road, there were no fences or signs to indicate this. I said that in Europe where we came from unfenced land without signage was considered common land for all people to enjoy. We then said sorry. We left with a friendly hand shake, but heeded his comments that ther Policia or worse, vigilantes, might have caught us with dire consequenses.

On the way back to San Jose Iturbide, Alain wanted to make a comfort stop and then called me over to take a look at a cactus growing behind the tree that he had selected for his privacy. There on the ground was a cactus that I had been aware grew in this area but that we had never found: Ferocactus macrodiscus ssp. septentrionalis. It was certainly not a show plant by any means, but it was still nice top add another taxon to our species list of plants seen in nature. Where there is one, there should be more, so we took a stroll along the edge of the field across the road where Alain found another group of four, growing among and hidden by the tall grass. There were people working in the fields some distance away and remembering the words of the old man in Xichu we decided not to cross the new fence to do a bit of gardening to expose the plants.

Alain had discovered a great restaurant at Hotel Los Arcos on the town square where the two of us enjoyed Marguaritas and Steak while Bart was well enough to join us for chicken soup.

We hope that Cliff, Ian and Sarda safely got away on their flight

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