Tuesday 9th March

Okay, this day was going to be fun.  Immense fun.  We had all day to drive up one road, hwy125, from Huajuapan, through Tehuacán to our stop over town - Fortin Las Flores - so right through the middle of the Tehuacán valley.  And the fun started early when we spied a youngish Furcraea macdougalii - a plant I was keen to see properly.  And I wouldn't be disappointed...

Then a little way down the road we saw this humungous inflorescence sticking up above the treeline

We fought our way through some scrub the have a look from the base - awesome!

and the top again, just to get the scale.

And we got to meet the kids , too.

A little further and we stopped again for another little exploration.  Here is the biggest Agave marmorata I have seen.

Here the unmistakably gaunt Yucca mixtecana

Here a lovely wide leafed form of Agave salmiana

And here a nice form of Agave potatorum

Here Yucca mixtecana in flower

A snaking trunk on this Brahea dulcis

Small trees festooned with tillandsias

What I imagine is the form of Agave ghiesbreghtii known as Agave purpusorum

Down in the hollow here this yucca seems to enjoy a richer diet than those on the upper arid slopes and really is quite handsome.  A possible candidate for the mystery plant in the Oaxaca botanic garden, too.

Further along the road, another stop.  Echinocactus platyacanthus, I think.

Ferocactus flavovirens or robustus?

Dasylirion lucidum, the commonly seen dasylirion on the Oaxaca/Puebla borders.

Another mammillaria, blinking in the sun this time.

The mother of all Beaucarnea gracilis.

A rather parched Agave potatorum

We dragged ourselves away and carried on - pausing briefly at this remarkable spectacle.  Not sure exactly what cocktail of cacti this is, a mix of giant species changing from the flat plains to the hillside to the hilltops, but in their countless millions.

Further north and the vegetation changed.  Here is a magnificent specimen of Yucca periculosa

And here Nolina parviflora, the common species seen around the central belt of Mexico states.

Having spent a long time ambling about the hillsides we needed to push on, so made progress to Fortin Las Flores, passing through a fairly untidy sprawling ribbon development that was the town of Orizaba.  Got to Gran Hotel El Pueblito and, yes, it was like a little village - quite luxurious for just 500 pesos.  Really cute AND a swimming pool.  Even though it was a bit chilly I had a dip, then we stayed in the grounds and ate at the hotel restaurant - perfectly acceptable.  Then a seemingly endless freight train passed by the garden, about 100 yds from where we were sitting.  I swear it took 15 mins to pass entirely and the whole complex seemed to vibrate.  Then to make matters worse there was an almighty blast from the horn.  It certainly explained the price.




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