Heavy rain was reported by Alain before I woke up. It still looked grey and threatening at 7 but only gently dripped as we packed the car at 9. For the first time for days we had a target plant stop – for Melocactus delessertianus, said to be another synonym of M. curvispinus. We had seen M. curvispinus, posing as M. oaxacensis on the Pacific Coast, and as a result were aware that plant would be difficult to find here in the much more lush vegetation. The plant was reported by Alfred Lau as Lau 1104 ‘from Jalapa to the sea at Palma Sola at 0-800 m altitude – quite a range. It was said to grow with Mammillaria eriacantha, M. heyderi, Pilosocereus sartorianus and Selenicereus coniflorus. The problems were: there was no town called Jalapa, we assume the current spelling is Xalapa, farther in land. But we had driven from Veracruz – along the coast road, at 10 m above sea level. I had relied on being able to spot the Pilosocereus from the car, but the flora was still too lush. We had a time budget, as we also wanted to see the largest of four archaeological sites before finding our hotel and the Mex 180 Libre proved slower than expected, so we gave up. The overnight rain had brought even more trees out in flower and as we drove around the village of Palma Sola I managed to get some close ups of the flowers and also of the fruits, that clearly showed the trees as members of the legume, pea, or bean family, but the flowers do not immediately support this. A bit more searching back in the UK.
For much of the trip we just drift from day to day – only the names of the days on my pill boxes and the headings of my Blog entries keep me in touch of the reality that this time next week we’ll be landing at London Heathrow T5 and a more regular life starts again.
It was 14:00 hrs when we arrived at the Temples of Tajin. This was by far the largest and most impressive sites visited and we spent some two hours around the site, taking many images of the remnants of what must have been a large and flourishing town. We did manage to see and photograph some cacti: Rhipsalis baccifera and a Hylocereus sp.(?). Again, there was no problem taking pictures and no high visibility security presence. Compared to the crowds visiting Stonehenge everyday, it was very quiet. As a result we were able to take lots of great pictures. Again, my fitness instructor marched me around for nearly two hours – well worth it in terms of pictures!
The town of Poza Rica is only some 20 km from El Tajin, with plenty of hotels to chose from. The Best Western was close to the entrance to town, so will give us a quick get away tomorrow.