Adventures in Mexico part VIII
1st November 2016
A planty day to start with, but still time for the ‘full Mexican’ breakfast as a lunch stop was uncertain. Our aim was to head northwest along HWY 131 towards Tehuacán, so just creeping across the border into the state of Puebla.
A short way out from town we stopped to examine this group of small Dasylirions. Literature on Dasylirion, such as it is, says there are just two species in this part of Mexico – D. serratifolium and D. lucidum - both of which are large and trunking. These were apparently different – remaining small even when flowering, branching either beneath ground or on recumbent stems, with short inflorescences.
A nice Agave potatorum sitting there with rather flat leaves.
A little further up the road and we stopped to investigate a small population of Nolina longifolia (I think – it is the right location) growing in some woods. Nolina always look different when growing in shade so it is often hard to say for sure what you are looking at.
A few km further on and there was a nice track along a canyon we could explore. Some immensely tall Brahea palms caught my eye – taller than any I have seen before. They also had extremely large leaves. Are they B. dulcis? I don’t know.
This is a young one with Neil for scale – he is not far short of 2m tall. Note the glorious white underside of the leaves!
Some nice cacti both on the ground and in a rotting tree stump.
The sun just caught this Spanish moss and made it sparkle.
We poked around in there for best part of an hour then carried on further into more open and drier territory. We saw Beaucarnea gracilis starting to appear but also, in the middle of those, some of these Nolina excelsa. I’d seen them before elsewhere but here they seemed quite common.
We decided to turn back as we had a couple of hours drive back to Oaxaca. Stopped to take a picture of this hillside just full of Brahea dulcis. They had small leaves, no white reverse, only a few trunking and even then not tall.
We were a bit pushed for time so ate in town at a cheap ‘all you can eat for 95 pesos’ buffet-style place called El Meson Oaxaqueña just off the northeast corner of the zocalo. The food was surprisingly good and a drink made from cinnamon flavoured rice called horchata became my new favourite.
Today was the first of the Dias de los Muertos proper and we had booked a trip that would take us, first of all, to a large cemetery on the outskirts of the city. When first entering the cemetery there was this striking wall of niches each with a candle.
Various graves had been decorated and illuminated by candles.
At odds with this peaceful scene there was a noisy fun-fair going full tilt immediately outside with noisy music, noisy rides, noisy stalls and everyone having a great, noisy time! We were then bussed off to a village a few km out of Oaxaca to see a ‘traditional comparsa’. As were, it seemed, all the other few thousand tourists in Oaxaca. The place was totally rammed full. The bus had to turn us out some way before town as the roads were blocked. By the time we got to the main square the main event had already started – some kind of play or other with an extremely noisy brass band playing at full blast while increasingly drunken people with small bells sewn onto their costumes either jumped up and down on the stage or jumped up and down in the square. A sort of tequila fuelled ‘moshing’. All very strange and I am not entirely convinced it was either spiritual or traditional. Still, quite a spectacle. Some of the costumes were quite remarkable.
My favourite was this girl with the peacock ruff.
After around an hour or so we had to make our way back to the bus, which we discovered had been blocked in. Got back to bed around 1am, so not the incredibly late night I thought it would be.