Migration of the Monarchs

We left Mexico City by bus on Monday, March 4. We were bound for Angangueo, a small city in the mountains 3-4 hours from Mexico City. The purpose of our trip was to visit the area that millions of Monarch butterflies traveled to from the U.S. and Canada to “winter over” and reproduce. This happens annually during the months of January to March. We traveled through many tiny villages as the air became cooler. It was a welcome change from the afternoon heat of Mexico City.

As we traveled along, we were amazed that our bus stopped often at the side os the road to let more passengers on. Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any more crowded, several groups of school children in their uniforms boarded. Even the standing room was over crowded! Think backpacks in faces and kids stepping over each other! Still the driver stopped and more passengers boarded. Just as we were wondering if we would need to hold the kids on our laps, we stopped and everyone shot out into the street. Here we were on the edge of a narrow main street of Anangueo. OK…..where is our hotel and how will we get there with our luggage? At that moment, a young girl, maybe 12 years old asked us if we needed a taxi. Yes! She went into the tienda and emerged with a cell phone and proceeded to make a call using rapid fire Spanish. We are getting pretty good at listening to conversations and figuring out the gist, but only if it’s slow. As Laura is our best interpreter, she spoke to the girl and determined that she had called her uncle, who happens to drive a cab. He arrived in a very small car and proceeded to stuff our luggage into the back. With the trunk wide open to accommodate all of our suitcases and four regular sized adults, we crammed into his car. Fortunately the ride was short to the Hotel Margarita. We checked into the old Mexico style pink hotel and checked out our rooms. Yep…..old Mexico! The rooms at least had bathrooms, even though the shower was in the middle with no shower curtain. Well….we wanted an adventure! That night we enjoyed an authentic Mexican dinner and became acquainted with the cook/waitress, Dona. She was amazing and went out of her way to try to understand us and get what we wanted. Leaving the restaurant, we were asked what time we would like hot water….huh? So in order to get a warm shower, we needed to schedule for someone to turn on the hot water. OK….7:30 a.m.

The next day we asked at the hotel about transportation to the Monarcas (Monarchs). No busses, but we could hire a driver. Soon Roberto arrived and we were off in his pickup.

We drove for a couple of hours to reach the park. As we climbed higher into the mountains, we could see the beautiful valley below and smell the pines. We passed tiny villages and saw sheep herders crossing the road and farmers plowing fields using horses. At last we arrived.

We rode horses to climb into the mountains to the place where the Monarchs were gathered. The guides were careful to pick up any Monarch in our path as these beautiful creatures are revered and protected. As we got closer, we noticed the air become thick with the beautiful winged creatures. The trees looked like they had long moss or pods. At closer inspection, we realized that these were groups of thousands of butterflies huddled together for warmth. When the sun came out the “pods” dispersed and the air became alive. Quiet settled over us and over the mountain. We were seeing one of nature’s miracles. This was an experience never to be forgotten!

Small villages along the way

The streets of Angangueo

Climbing the mountain with Angangueo below

A shepherd and his flock

Our transportation


Thousands of butterflies

Pods of Monarchs on the trees

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