Adventures in Mexico part VIII
30th October 2016
We decided to have an early start, so turned up for breakfast when it opened at 7:30am. Buffet style, freshly squeezed orange, tea/coffee, water melon and papaya, granola, yoghurt. Hot stuff hadn’t been put out yet but we headed off anyway. Game plan for the day was to drive north out of Oaxaca to explore a bit around Ixtlán de Juárez, an area around 65km north of Oaxaca on HWY 175 that is sort of cloud forest. A few km short we stopped to look at some trees that were festooned with bromeliads and other epiphytes.
We got to Ixtlán and found the ecotourism office to enquire about getting a guide, as one should do in these parts. Unfortunately there was no-one there other than some school children decorating the office with marigold flowers. We decided to travel further north, out of the national park and into some higher hills. Around 2700m we stopped at a likely looking trail and followed it along into some quite dense woodland. Only to be confronted by the largest colony of Agave atrovirens I have seen, growing happily in the shade! Phil poses for scale.
A magnificent sight, majestic giants dwarfing the rock face they were cascading down. There was also a small number of Nolina species here, possibly N. longifolia.
Two species of Echeveria – the one on the left E. rosea, the other I am not sure.
We followed the trail to where an open area that had been cleared for pylons and saw some rock outcrops that were host to an array of xeric ferns.
And I was pleased to see a Psacaclium sp, below right. I like these a lot but have rarely encountered them for sale in England. Not seen one in flower before, either – not missed much by the look of things, but those leaves are to die for.
We trudged back – it was a lovely walk down a steep bank on the way out but not so nice on the return - and drove a short way further north. In a small barranco Neil spotted an Oreopanax growing nicely in the rich moist soil which begged further examination. I stopped along the way to look more closely at this rather spectacular umbellifer – 2m high, red stems, glossy and heavily veined bipinnate leaves growing in soggy soil.
With little time to go further north we turned back headed into town.
Out hotel had put the finishing touches to their display in the foyer. I must say that if I were a returning spirit I would be delighted with the effort and attention to detail shown by this and other displays throughout the city.
Again, we freshened up and hit the town, spotting more and more decorations. Below left was a painted sand carving.
We wandered around for about 90 minutes trying to find a restaurant that wasn’t fully booked to no avail and ended up making do with a pizza! Albeit a nice wood oven-cooked one. So we made a point of booking our table for the remaining nights here. We were also planning on returning to Oaxaca for our last night, so got our hotel receptionist to book us a table at the ‘best restaurant in town’ – Casa Oaxaca. Finish to the trip in style!