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Published: February 17th 2012
Sorry folks, been awhile. Just getting some time to upload the photos, edit the video and reflect on our adventure in Mexico. Rather than try to catch you all up at once, I intend to complete a series of separate blogs on various individual topics. Some of the richest experiences have been with our everyday life here in San Pancho. Before I go there, I must take you to one of the wonders of the world, the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Central Mexico, where we traveled for my birthday in early Feb.
We intented to drive deep into Michoacan, the state with the most Monarch sanctuaries. After factoring in the 2,000 speed bumps and the 78 detours around failed highways, my best estimates put the journey at about 10 hours - nothing after the Dietz Family's own 40-hour migration from Lake Tahoe to San Pancho in the covered wagon, aka Toyota Land Cruiser. The family was game. That was until I told one of my local friends about my grand plan. He looked at me like I just told him I was taking my kids skydiving without parachutes - much like how many of you looked at us when we
told you we were going to drive to Mexico to live for 6 months.
"Haven't you heard about the cartels in Michoacan?" he asked. "Ehhh, no," I replied. Well after I decided to move the web page on my laptop from the local surf report to the US State Deaprtment's Travel Warnings page, sure enough, there in red, bold print... in English - "No non-essential travel to Michocan, including the areas around the butterfly sanctuaries." Drug cartels have taken this area captive as it is a primary supply route of great importance. OK, plan B.
We decided to fly to Mexico City and then bus to Valle de Bravo, about a 4 hour bus ride. We were a bit remiss for not being able to dodge bullets from the local drug cartels so we elected to make our journey interesting. Ellis' front tooth broke off on the flight to Mexico City. Instead of smoothly transitioning from the airplane into a bus to Valle, we spent 5 hours searching out a competent denist who could put Ellis' smile back together. Funny side story in itself, but I must stay the course and finally get to the good part -
Trail to monarchs
Ellis charging uphill
the butterflies. After about 10 hours of travel and a windy bus ride up the mountain that made Chaney sick, we finally arrived. I couldn't help wonder if the drive to Michoacan through the cartel strong-hold would have been faster and safer.
Valle de Bravo is wonderful. It's Mexico's Lake Tahoe, where the wealthy Chilangos (Mexico City residents) vacation. Low key mountain town with green pine trees, clean air, and a large lake. Needless to say, we felt immediately at home. The Paragliding World Cup was taking place while we were there, along with some top equestrian events.
But we we there for the monarchs. Kelly teased me endlessly that it was my wish to go see butterflies for my birthday. A bit sissy she said. That was until she saw them herself. It's cliche to say, "there is no way to adequately describe the experience," but it is so true. After about a 1/2 hour taxi ride outside of Valle, we hiked about an hour up a trail, climbing as we went. We saw butterflies throughout the hike, but nothing prepared us for the sanctuary. In about a 3 acres space, there were millions of butterflies covering
the trees and filling the air. So many that they made the tree branches sag from the weight. Check out the video link below. The dark blobs on the trees are butterflies, piled on top of each other. As Kelly put it, it was a page from a fairtale, like a story your mom told you as a bedtime story. It is truly an amazing story that these Monarchs fly all the way from Canada, some 3,000+ miles away. Their offspring then travel back to Canada for the summer.
To round out the journey, we stayed in this great eco-resort with sustainable practices and lots of activities. We played Robin Hood with archery and zip lined through the trees like tarzan. We returned to Mexico City for two nights of urban fun, filled with cultural visits to the National Archeology Musuem (my favorite in the world) and the Zocalo and Palacio Nacional. We thoroughly enjoyed walking the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world and dining in some hip neighborhood of Mexico City.
Please check out the video link and the pics below. If link doesn't work, cut and paste link into address bar to
view video -
you all, and will connect again soon.
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