Adventures in Mexico pt III

Wednesday 24th January

A fairly long drive was ahead of us, taking us back to the cooler highlands to the southwest, so we headed off after yet another magnificent breakfast.  Once again mist and drizzly rain prevented too much exploration of our route, though I did stop at one point to photograph these treeferns, a Cyathea sp of some sort, that were obligingly hanging over the road.

We travelled fro a short distance along the Gulf coast road and stopped briefly so that we could enjoy a closer look at the sea - for me, at least, a first.  I needed some nimble footwork to avoid getting wet when trying to feel the water temperature and a large wave rushed up to where I was standing.  But there was nothing to see, so we carried on - heading for Xalapa (Hal-A-pa) via the small town of Las Vigas. 

We climbed in altitude as we drove up the mountainside and, all of a sudden, the mist and drizzle cleared and we found ourselves in lovely warm sunshine.  Reaching Las Vigas, we could see only a few hundred metres away below us the mist was still looming, but for now we were clear.  So why did we want to go to Las Vigas?  Not a large or impressive town by any means, but home to a spectacular agave - Agave atrovirens var mirabilis.  This is to be seen in mixed boundary planting with Agave salmiana - but not that commonly.  We had to scour most of the town for these few shots of this illusive, massive plant.  So what is so special about Agave atrovirens var mirabilis?  Well, the weather here is awful.  It is cold in winter and constantly drenched in mist and drizzle.  In his book, Gentry mentions this area enjoying a rainfall of over 1300mm annually.  All in all, possibly the most ideally suited agave for growing in cool wet climates... needs to be tested, but it certainly sounds promising.  Add to that the sheer presence of such a hulking brute...

Below: here is a plant that Nick Macer and I had seen the year before.  Even bigger now...

Below: here is another plant that I photographed on the last trip - it is now looking rather tatty as it approaches it's flowering cycle

Practically as soon as we got back in the jeep the weather closed in again, so we felt our way to Xalapa and to our hotel - Posada Maria de San Francisco - which was reasonably priced and very smart.  Good job, too, as it was our base for two nights.  Here is a pic of the courtyard onto which our rooms opened.

Had a wander around town - found a small exhibition of the life and times of two local celebs: Diego Ravera and Frieda Kahlo.  Large local market with lots going on.  Ate at a restaurant (La Sopa) recommended by the guide book and locally, but it was a little disappointing.


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