Wednesday 10th March

Nice breakfast and out by 8am.  An exciting prospect, as we were heading for Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltépetl as it is sometimes called by people who can pronounce it.  The summit stands at 5636m above sea level, making it Mexico's tallest mountain, the third tallest mountain in north America (one in Alaska and one in Canada are taller) and the tallest volcano in the whole of the Americas.

The plan was to head north out of Fortin de Las Flores and approach from the east.  Things started off encouragingly, driving through a number of increasingly small towns and villages, gaining altitude and losing tarmac.  This scene appealed to me - a particularly nice form of Agave atrovirens being utilised as a crash barrier on the roadside.

We drove on relentlessly, bumping along rutted dirt tracks - Pico de Orizaba got nearer and nearer... and the flora got duller and duller!

This was about the highlight - a nice felty backed senecio sp. growing happily around 3200m.

It got to a point when we didn't really know where we were but had gone so far that it seemed the best plan was to carry on.  In the event we made a complete circular tour of one of Pico de Orizaba's neighbours.  Some way further round we stopped in another woods and had a rummage about - an interesting echeveria again growing on a tree.  Not sure of the species, possibly the same as before.

and this odd parasite with enormous leaves.

But that was really it.  We wanted to go to Puebla so tried to find the road to get us there.  Possibly the most unusual thing about this day's travel was asking a van full of police the way to Puebla.  I was unable to understand their directions with my elementary grasp of Spanish so they suggested we follow them - and they drove for about 30 mins to get us on the right road.  Fantastic!  A 2hr speed along the motorway and we were in Puebla, most of which seemed to be in the process of being dug up.  Certainly most of the roads we wanted to take.  But we finally got to Hotel Imperial - 550 pesos including parking and breakfast, and where we would be spending two nights.  The guide book recommended Restaurant Sacristía where we enjoyed yet another absolutely top class meal.



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