Friday 4 March 2016 – Santa Rosalia to Loreto
Apologies to regular readers for the break in communications. Yes, we are way ahead of schedule! Last night we were to have stayed in Guerrero Negro, but crossed into Baja California Sur so early that we decided to move on to San Ignacio, our next planned stop, especially as I had counted on gaining an hour by crossing into BC Sur. WRONG. You LOOSE an hour! As a result it became clear that we’d best make our planned side trip into the Sierra San Francisco in a few days time, on the way back north. You never can tell if there is space at the Hotel / Mission San Ignacio / Desert Inn, what ever they are called this year. I one or more tour busses are booked, then it is usually a tight squeeze, or a case of ‘no room at the inn’.
As we approached the usual security check point before the turning into town, there was a strong smell of smoke in the air. As we cleared the check point – all very relaxed and ‘have a nice day’ stuff, and turned around the bend in MEX 1, the cause of the fire became clear. As long as I have been to San Ignacio (since 2008) there is a large, dense, stand of palm trees. One year, Eunice and I even stayed in pre-erected tents between the palm trees! This time, they were on fire! It seems that by the time we arrived, it had been burning for a while, with the fire having jumped three different ways, each burning intensively. If we could get through, we get to the Mision San Ignacio hotel, but there was a huge bus blocking the way. And there sirens all around us as fire brigade, ambulances and police drove past us. The smoke got very thick and there were glowing embers raining down on the car. A policeman pointed us to turn round and go back. There was quite an audience as we left town, all rubber necking. We had about an hour of daylight left and the nearest town was Santa Rosalia, 72 km up the road in the right direction – there should be spare hotel beds there if we could get there before these rubber-neckers realised that they could not get through. We made it as the last day light went and stopped at the first hotel sign we saw. Full. Second hotel – no problem. Hotel del Real was perhaps not a natural first choice hotel and despite claims that they had wifi throughout, there was no evidence of it in the room. Hence no Diaries.
The previous night in Hotel Costa del Sol in Bahia de Los Angeles, things looked promising until a group of some 14 Swiss guests switched their computers and phones on. I guess the band was not broad enough, just like the night before that at Catavina where we were lucky to squeeze into the Mision Catavina Hotel before a tour busses arrived with their passengers bringing the wifi down.
In general terms, the three of us are having a great time, it’s hot (around 30 C) and sunny, the cacti abound and some are even in flower, while others will be on the way back. In 1983, Jonathan collaborated with Nigel Taylor for his final year’s degree project on a study of Ferocactus, with his contribution being the study of their seed. He has Feros in his collection and in the field so far was only familiar with F. viridescens at Torrey Pines, north of San Diego and F. cylindraceus at the Joshua Tree NM, so we made many stops this time to resolve many of the Ferocactus sp. stops from previous trips. Most Feros are roughly the same size as Copiapoa in Chile so Angie is enjoying the challenge of being the first to find them as they hide between the other cactus vegetation.
I’ll try to catch up with the backlog of diaries in days to come.