Sunday 26 February – around Tehuacan – admin day.
Even though the day is still young, I can safely predict that there is little else newsworthy going to happen. In most of our trips we build in ‘reserve’ days, just in case there is some unforeseen event, illness among the driver or car breakdown, that would put the ability of the party to reach the airport for flights home in time.
As we had not encountered any such emergencies, we had now a true spare day. We met half an hour later than usual for breakfast and emptied out the car, so that it could be taken to a car wash of which we had seen many – when we did not need them. Our car was looking pretty much like any cactus car after a four week trip through dry & dusty cactus country and so deserved a wash.
Because of the usual state of the car, which had recorded 32 km at pickup and had now reached 5,158 km, it was likely that the carwash people would demand a bit extra. But where do you find a car wash that is open on a Sunday morning. Alain asked at the hotel reception and was given vague directions. The first place optimistically estimated an hour to finish off the car he was doing and then do a 20 seater minibus. He helpfully directed us to another carwash farther on. Eventually we found one that was open and had no other car queueing, just the one that two guys were meticulously working on. Our interpretation of the signs on the wall suggested a cost of MX$ 800 for an external and internal clean. We were impressed with the thoroughness applied to the taxi in front of us, although perhaps not by the cleanliness of the cloths they used and the time it took. But the taxi looked like new when they finished.
There even was a waiting room with settees where we could wait in the shade – sadly no drink machines for coffee, colas or beer and margaritas. By now they had been joined by a third party, apparently the boss of the outfit. Finally the call came that they had finished. Alain came out with a MX$ 200 note and was looking through his pockets for the balance when the carwash foreman said that he had no change! Alain had found a MX$100 note and offered that. Again, the panic was ‘no change’. They speak a strange dialect in Tehuacan but finally it became clear that the 90 minute hard work by three adults cost us the princely sum of MX$ 60, less than GBP 3. All of a sudden, the panic about change became unimportant as we left it as a tip, and perhaps some clean cloths. Our car looked like brand new, despite the few scrapes with shrubs etc.
What to do next? Back at the hotel Jonathan and Chris were waiting for my 2TB plug in hard drive, and while this was transferring data between computers, we decided the cross the road to a Home Depot store to see if they could sell me a USB cable to replace the one that connects my Nikon D600 to my laptop. The old one would suddenly cut out. Home Depot had a range of cables but not the one I needed, so on we went towards Wallmart. Before getting there we passed a Mall dominated by Liverpool, a large department store. In one of the small shops there was a Radia Shack. Jonathan again made his predictions about being a Dutch uncle if they did not have the cable. He now just needs to acquire a Dutch passport to complete the formalities. But another small shop, the Steren Shop for electronic solutions, did!
As we walked on in the delight of the airconditioned mall, we passed a shop that sold ‘cowboy hats’. Yes, the PK hattery acquired another hat!
We found a shady terrace that belonged to a liquor store where we each had a cold beer, a Leffe for Alain and myself and Corona for Chris and Jonathan. Then a short stroll home to the hotel and we’re done.
Expect things tomorrow to be just as uneventful, a 265 km drive back to Europrental at the Airport, drop off the car and say our goodbyes. Chris and Jonathan will take the shuttle to the Airport for their flight home while Alain and I take another shuttle to take us to the hotel where we stayed for our first night in Mexico.
We met all our cactus objectives, except that we failed to see Ferocactus reppenhagenii and F. macrodiscus, but this was more than made up for by seeing Mammillaria bertholdii. It provides the perfect excuse to come back again to search for those that escaped.
Many thanks to cactus expert Alain who took us to all the locations where he had seen Feros before and for whom the pressure of being able to find these spots has now fallen away. Many thanks, Alain – well done! And also for taken on most of the driving when my back played up.