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Massive Arrival of Monarchs Has Begun!

November 5, 2012

Dear friends:
Since last October 30th up to today, we've had cold stormy weather. Temperatures dropped down as low as 5 degrees centigrade and we even experienced a hail storm!

Our visits to "El Cerrito" have been very frustrating. As the graph shows, Jocelyn, Roberto and I have seen fewer and fewer Monarchs since that peak day on the 29th. Where have they hidden, those Monarchs that have already arrived? We don't know. Today, we only saw ONE SINGLE MONARCH flying by itself in the dark-gray sky.

When this cold goes away, we will continue our monitoring, hoping that the hundreds of Monarchs we had already seen jump up all of a sudden to cover the sky and to confirm that their official arrival is occurring. A

As you may know, one of the most important and ancestral traditions to celebrate in all México is the Day of the Dead. So this November 1st, Jocelyn, Roberto and I rendered honor at the grave of the hundreds of thousands of Monarchs who froze to death during the terrible hail storm and extremely low temperatures in January of 2002, almost 10 years ago.

We prepared our ofrenda to them, decorating their grave, with the photo of the Barro Pot containing some of the Monarchs, two little Oyamel trees as a main symbol of survival element for them in our region, a Zempatzúchitl boquet of flowers, the obliged and exclusive intense-yellow flower for this day, as well as the typical Púrpura flower for this celebration, on the opposite side; water, some local-made fruit candies, some fresh fruit, the Calavera symbol of Death, and some colored paper surrounding the grave.

A deep sense of respect for nature, and concern for the high vulnerability of the life of the Monarch Butterflies filled our families and us while preparing this modest but proud ofrenda from the little hands of Jocelyn and Roberto on behalf of the hands of all Canadian, North American and Mexican children.

Our indigenous ancestors celebrated when someone passed away, assuring that the soul of dead children and adults passed onto a different dimension which would be a better place to live than ours. Different civilizations in the world render tribute to Death as a rather tragic and final process in human life. In México, our ancestors manifested themselves with certain joy the fact that a relative should die; in their belief, the concept of Hell and Heaven did not exist but they knew that the fact of passing away meant going onto a dimension of complete joy and peace.

Therefore, instead of seeing the phenomenon of Dead as a tragic event in our lives, our indigenous forefathers AWAITED for it. By that, as a sign of permanent connection with our dead relatives, our Purépecha ancestors held that the arrival of the Monarch Butterflies on the 1st. and 2nd. day each November, was the visiting of the souls of our dear ones, which deserved a big fest and joy at their graves and at our homes, preparing the meals, playing the music, and placing the objects they most enjoyed when they were physically with us.

Jocelyn, Roberto and your local reporter, Estela Romero Angangueo, Michocán, México.


Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico Map: Location of monarch butterfly overwintering region in Mexico
Near the two largest monarch sanctuaries.
Monarch Wintering Sites
The region in central México where monarchs overwinter.