Saturday, March 7, 2020

SantuarIo del Rosario, Michoacán, Mexico, el siete de Marzo, 2020

In spite of the party ending about 4:45, I had a good sleep.  Daniel, my host, who apparently doesn’t live here with his family, messaged wondering what time I had to be at my tour so he could come and make breakfast.  Normally, I guess it’s at 9 but he came early and made a delicious toasted bread with frijoles inside and crispy cheese on the outside, topped with aguacate.  It’s called mollettes-

The meeting spot for the tour was only 5 minutes away.  It was a beautiful morning, only 8 degrees and the Cathedral looked great-

Our van was full with 10 Mexicans, Cole from Vernon whom I had met in Zihua and Kaitlyn, a PhD student working on her project.  We decided as a group to chip in $2.53 each to use the toll roads instead of the secondary highways.  Apparently, the secondary highways aren’t well maintained, nor are they safe in the dark so people are forced to pay exhorbitant tolls to use the primary/better roads.  It cost $33 to go 320 km which is super expensive for anyone, let alone Mexicans.  Along the way-

They can’t produce Tequila but they grow agave to sell to the distilleries-

Once at the Santuario, we parked, bought our tickets-

and headed up the one mile trek.  The first part was 650 steps then it was just path.  The weekend is the busiest time to visit but that’s when the tours leave Morelia so I had no choice-

It is possible, for 100 pesos or $6.68 to ride a horse up-

I followed along the path-

and saw many dead monarchs-

There are 140 million butterflies living on 26,000 acres in the Santuario del Rosario which is a reserve of 100,000 acres. Monarchs migrate from Canada to this state, Michoacán and to the neighbouring state of Mexico.  This area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.  There are four ways to qualify: historical sites are cities and archaeological sites, material sites have foods and music that need protecting, cultural sites have important traditions and customs to preserve and natural sites, like Rosario have temporary phenomenons such as the butterflies which are here from November to March or the fireflies which are in Nanacamilpa from June to August.  Monarchs come to Mexico along the Pacific coast and go back to Canada along the Atlantic.  They are born in Canada in August and fly to Mexico where two generations are born.  The third is the one that flies back to Canada where during the summer, two generations are born and die and the third one returns to Mexico, 5000 km away.  Monarch research started in 1937.  Normal butterflies live 3-4 weeks, migrating Monarchs, or the last generation, live 9 months which is why they are known as a royal butterfly.  

They hang in clumps on the trees, trying to stay warm-

When the sun comes out, they start to flutter-

 There were a lot-

The guides rope off the areas where they are concentrated and it changes daily.  Visitors are not allowed deep into the forest to see the larvae which is understandable because it would be destroyed. By the end of March, they will be on their way north!

Thanks to

Back down at the entrance, there are many restaurants cooking local dishes, all on wood-

I had mushroom soup which was okay-

The blue corn tortillas were really good.  I don’t like regular corn tortillas unless I have jam but these were great because they have more texture and flavour.  There aren’t many restaurants that serve them-

After lunch, we wandered to the market which was quite interesting.  Yes they had the usual - key chains and magnets, all with butterflies but there were also shawls and t-shirts decorated with monarchs, home made liquor- Irish cream, coconut, pistachio, piñon which is pink like fresa and peanut flavours.  We bought a bottle of Irish cream for the ride home-

They sell cookies made from blue maize which are tasty-

They also have a blah tasting red fruit that I didn’t like.  Mexicans like to put spicy salt on everything-

Once back to the van, we were on our way.  The area appears very fertile and beautiful-

Once back in Morelia, Cole, me and Kaitlyn from Buffalo, New York, went to a nearby craft beer bar where I had a chocolate stout which was really good.  They also sell flavoured cigarettes-

Saturday nights, at 9 pm punto, something rare in Mexico, there are fireworks in front of the Cathedral. They were over in three minutes but very nice and there was a huge crowd-

The Cathedral is lit up at night and looks great-

We went back to the bar for another beer and then parted company.  Cole is on his way to Manzanillo - he’s on a trek to find the best beach town in Mexico where he will start to spend winters.  From Manzanillo he heads to La Cruz north of Bucerias, then flies home the end of April.  Kaitlyn’s research is on how impoverished people react to their governments and function in their countries.  Her program is 6 years long and she is in year 4.

I had a nice day and am looking forward to discovering more of Morelia tomorrow.

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