Probably most of you have heard about the miraculous migration that Monarch butterflies make from Canada to their winter homes in Mexico. Today I visited that home. Seldom have I been so moved by beauty, quiet, respect for the magnificent sight I was privileged to witness. The forests where the Monarchs mate is over three hours’ drive from San Miguel. It is another province that surprised me by its forested and mountainous terrain. When we finally arrived at the reserve I was surprised and impressed to learn that this section of forest, set aside for the butterflied is owned and managed by indigenous people who have lived in this area for centuries. We parked the van and set off on foot or on horseback. We were at an altitude of over 10 thousand feet and I was feeling a little headachy so I opted for my friend Paloma. A young fellow from the region led our group of horses up the steep track for about half an hour until we reached the area where the butterflies swarm. They like sun and we were lucky enough to have a mainly sunny day. Strict quiet is requested and we stood transfixed by the sight of these millions of beauties flitting around and covering the pine branches and trunks. I must honestly say I was in tears, I was so moved. I think the only time I have come close to feeling like this was when I saw whales from the boat last September and when I saw thousands of snow geese on their migratory trip outside Quebec City. The butterflies love the cool air and shade of the forest. It is clear that the people who work with visitors take their responsibility and heritage seriously. Many of the children do not go to school but start working in the forest as guides from an early age. What a wonderful life. Should they be encouraged to work as accountants or computer programmers? What more wonderful life could they have than being surrounded by animals, their beloved butterflies and people from all over the world who follow their instructions so that they too can enjoy this wonderful experience. They have a small,cluster of booths at the entrance where we bought the most delicious lunch cooked in a wood oven and we were able to buy baskets or embroidery. . . . The motif. . .guess!
I was very happy to complete to trek up and down the mountain without mishap on Paloma’s back – although she did show marked tendency to want to be first in line and would take an unexpected shortcut sometimes! I was in awe today and I know I will never forget my visit to the Monarchs.