Adventures in Mexico part VII
6th November 2014
On the road by 7am and off to a place called Las Vigas to have another look at one of my absolute favourite plants, Agave atrovirens var mirabilis. On the way we passed by the hot-spot for Agave obscura where it grows both as understorey in pine woods and also in the open on lava fields. Anyway, once at Las Vigas - and true to type - I couldn’t find them despite having been here twice before. I couldn’t remember exactly where they were in relation to the main town of Las Vigas other than north of the railway line near the rough outskirts. So after 45 minutes of frustratingly bumping along heavily rutted dirt tracks we gave up and got back on the main road. And after 5 minutes we saw some on the side of the road. The picture on the right, courtesy of Neil Armstrong, involves no trickery other than a slight foreshortening perspective – these are big plants!
There was discussion in the car about where this isolated population of agave come from and a theory was put forward that they had travelled downhill from the high ground. So off we went to the high ground. Past a new settlement called Valle Alegra – have to say I wouldn’t be very happy to live in that valley – and onwards into some woodland at around 2750m altitude by another new small village La Llanilla, equally scruffy. Not an agave to be found anywhere but lots of nice ferns and other bits and bobs.
Wasn’t sure what this sinister looking stuff was growing out of a pine trunk – turns out to be a parasite Arceuthobium (thanks Chad).
Back downhill again, and we then had a very pleasant drive through small towns on small roads in wet subtropical vegetation that dominates this border between Veracruz and Puebla, enjoying the lush foliage and humid heat on brief forays out of the car. Ever present was this particularly handsome and large leafed Bocconia sp and, familiar amongst the weird stuff, this Amicia.
We paused a while at this bridge to take in the abundance and exuberance of the plant life in this region.
As dusk set in we arrived in the small town of Zapotitlan, just a little northwest of Zacapoaxtla, where we found a perfectly nice hotel (one of two in town) that cost just 300 pesos (less than £15) per room. The owner couldn’t have been more helpful. A small restaurant in town provided us with a great meal, even if they had to search the town for enough beers! I got the feeling they didn’t see a lot of passing traffic. By the time we had finished, it had started to rain very heavily so we made it back to the hotel rather quickly.