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MEXICO
August 2012
 5 of 5
MEXICO
August 2012
 5 of 5
Our last day begins with another morning hike, but instead of the sparse arroyo, we explore thick green hills and valleys. Along the way, Earless Lizards keep their eyes on us.    No snakes, except a Speckled Racer that flashes along a fence line before disappearing into dense shrubs. Walking along a stream, however, we do come across two Mud Turtles.  Not sure what kind, but to us they look alike, so we assume they’re the same.  Later on I’m surprised and pleased to learn that we actually found two different species.  (Many thanks to turtle maven Jim Buskirk for his expert assistance with identification.) The first is a juvenile of the same type we saw on our first day, but smaller and less elongated than that adult found by the highway.   The second is sitting and waiting in the stream, in ambush position, ready to grab a salmon.  Or maybe not. We also encounter a few good bugs during the week.      But it’s snakes we’re really after.  For Jason and Shaun, even with all their success, the big prize is still ahead.  Night after night they search for something red crossing the road; no luck.  But then the rains bring their reward, and in the end the boys score not just one, but two scarlet trophies.   Ron and I, on the other hand, have more modest aspirations.  While everyone else has been catching Boas, we have yet to find one. My top target for the trip  and judging from everyone else’s experience, one that should be easily attainable — but it continues to elude us. Finally, on the last cruise in boa land, our very own comes crawling out of the forest onto the road in front of us.          For me, it’s the most exciting moment of the trip!  Well, almost. After finishing up an afternoon photo session, we pack our gear and leave the peaceful little town that was home to us for an exhausting but relaxing week.  We head north and stop for the night in a noisy metropolitan area, where the crowded city streets put me on high alert.  My earlier discomfort returns, and I start thinking about the dangers of urban violence and Mexican drug wars. Ron and I share a hotel room with Matt.  It’s been a long day and I’m tired, but it still takes me a long time to fall asleep.  Finally, I drift off around 2 am. BANG!!!  There’s an explosion, shattering glass, the loudest sound I’ve ever heard.  I’m instantly awake, and jerk upright to see what’s happened.  My first dazed thought is that a car has crashed through the front window of the room.  But then I think, “Gunfire!” and reflexes take over.  I roll off the mattress and drop between the beds to avoid getting shot. Ron is also jolted awake.  He opens his eyes to the sight of me falling off the bed, and his first thought is, “Eitan’s having a heart attack!”  Meanwhile, Matt has rushed to the door, while I’m yelling, “Get down!” We’re all stunned, but after a moment, we realize it’s quiet again. We start looking around, completely confused.  What the hell is happening? I glance at the floor and see glass on the carpet, but not by the front window, which is still intact.  It seems to have come from the direction of the bathroom, so we turn on the light, and peek through the open door.   We’re amazed to see that the glass wall of the shower stall has shattered, with enough force to send fragments flying across the room, and a blast that could be mistaken for an asteroid impact.  We wonder how it happened the hotel management couldn’t quite believe that we didn’t cause it but I later learn that spontaneous breakage of tempered glass is an uncommon, but well-established, consequence of damage during installation, or of impurities in the glass.  At least it wasn’t bullets. It was quite the conclusion to a trip filled with highlights, not least of which was the good company and generous help of our herping buddies.  My appreciation to Jason and Shaun for sharing the results of their exceptional roadcruising;  special thanks to Lorrie for arranging logistics and being our translator; and my deepest gratitude to Matt for making this trip possible.      For more photos, see Matt Cage’s excellent album Mexico (Sonora) 2012    
Alamos Mud Turtle Kinosternon alamosae
Elegant Earless Lizard Holbrookia elegans
Mexican Mud Turtle Kinosternon integrum
West Mexican Coral Snake Micrurus distans
Sinaloan Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum sinaloae