Mariposas Monarcas!

Monarch_Santuario Sierra Chincua, <a href=thumb Mexico” src=”×198.jpg” width=”300″ height=”198″ />Here is an excerpt from my blog when my husband and I visited the Monarch Butterflies in the Michoacan State of Mexico.  To see the entire article, pill click this link:

Photos coming soon!  Having difficulty with my website, hospital and will hopefully work that out in the very near future!

Wednesday – February 20, 2013

Zitacuaro – Santuario Sierra Chincua

We took our time this morning. Scott is happy that the butterflies sleep in. They don’t start flying until 55 degrees – sometime after noon. We had a beautiful breakie (the best fruit I’ve had yet in Mexico) at el Rancho and hung out with our new friends, Anita, and Wouter from Belgium. I so enjoy this type of environment – in which folks sit with friends they haven’t met yet during meals. I like the sense of community and meeting others from different parts of the world.

Originally Scott and I were going to go to the Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, but with the advice of Pablo, we decided to go to Sierra Chinque first and Cerro Pelon tomorrow. SUPPOSEDLY Sierra Chincua would’ve been the easier route. After a 90-minute drive north of Angangueo, we arrived, paid our 30 pesos to get in, then paid another 70 pesos to get our guia (guide), Francisco. I like the fact that one must have a guide. This helps protect the butterflies.

According to Pablo at Rancho San Cayetano, we would’ve had an easy hike, and when I saw an actual road that narrowed to an open trail, I thought, oh yeah. I can do this.

But Francisco saw that we were serious about the Monarchs. After ascending to about 10,000 feet upon which we could really feel the altitude difference, he took us off the main trail, well off the trail, and into the brush. Outside of one group we saw early on, we were the only people there. He took us down, down, down, down a steep mountain, probably another 1000 feet. The further we descended the more Monarcas we saw. We got to a clearing and butterflies were EVERYWHERE. Flying all around us. The sky was peppered with orange. It was so fabulous. Magical. Amazing. Sacred. Several times I thought how lucky I am, how very very lucky, to see these amazing creatures here in Mexico. For years I’ve dreamed about this, and here I was. Francisco said there were 400,000 Monarchs. That’s quite a change from the 7000 or so I’m accustomed to in Santa Cruz! At one point, we were standing on a rock ledge looking straight down about another 1000 feet.

Oyamel trees coated with Mariposas Monarcas.

All along the way, Scott and I were picking up bits of litter – mostly in the form of candy wrappers – that ignoramuses left behind. I was perplexed that Francisco so carefully cleaned off the trail (when we were on a trail)– pushing rocks and sticks out of the way with his walking stick, but he didn’t pick up one piece of litter. Toward the end, our little bag was full and just as we emerged from the dense forest, we came closer to where the Caballo guys were hanging out with their horses. There was a lot more litter here, and Francisco finally chipped in and helped us pick it up.

The trees in this forest are mainly Oyamel Fir trees. Turns out the Monarcas numbers continue to decline due to deforestation. While legal logging is no longer allowed in the Biosphere (an area designated for the Monarchs as a World Heritage Site by the UN), there is still illegal logging that causes holes in the forest that essentially create cold spots in which the Monarchs freeze to death. The Monarchs choose these very specific overwintering sites so that they have protection from September to March. If the protection is gone, the Monarchs also go. Add to it, the decrease in natural habitat in the US when they fly back north to lay their eggs on milkweed (pesticides, anyone?). The Monarchs compete with humans for resources. Many would think, well, the Monarchs are second in line to humans, but this is very shortsighted as the Monarchs are considered a sort of tracker to the overall health of the environment. If we let the Monarchs perish, we may very well be expediting our own demise.

The Monarchs nectar on the salvia, the white plants (name escapes me) and this stunning, pink thistle.

Francisco was adorable. A 64-year old local, with a worn face, a sweet smile missing a couple teeth, and a cowboy hat that has seen some years. He knew the mountains well and stopped a couple of times to show us some animal tracks that we would’ve surely missed otherwise. And he was hardy, taking the mountain with great ease despite the tequila laden breath. For the climb back up, he took my hand for most of the journey, and I completely trusted him. He spoke to us the entire time and even when we said, “no entiendo” or “mas despacio” he kept on talking. He laughed several times, and I regret having missed out on his charming personality. Unfortunately, we missed a lot of what he had to say in general, and I’m sure it was filled with wisdom and knowledge of the years on that amazing Monarch mountain. As we neared the end of the journey, we landed at Franciso’s house. He offered dinner and his daughter-in-law wanted to sell us some of her beautiful baskets at the artisan shop, but we graciously declined because we were dirty, tired, and needing to take the long drive back to Zitacuaro.





Categories News, Solutions and Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | Posted on February 20, 2013

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