Letter from Estela

Staying a Little Longer!


March 5, 2019

Dear friends:

After seeing a serious decline at both colonies, our emotions come back up again! With the more normal weather conditions having returned we hope that the season could last some more days and, if lucky, a couple of more weeks.

El Rosario Sanctuary

A gradual departure indeed took place during the whole last week. A significant percentage of the El Rosario colony left the site too early. We do not know for certain if part of them are re-locating at far away forests in the region. That is hard to know. 

The remaining and still considerable portion of the colony seems to have decided to pause for now. As long as temperatures do not increase as they did weeks ago, this season could hopefully end around the normal dates around March 20-25, as has happened for decades.

Mating is gradually coming down to, let’s say, normal activity. As is typical at end of the overwintering season, we see lots of evidence of predation, with faded, dry and broken wings can be seen all over. 

Belinda is 15 years old and attends middle school. She enthusiastically introduced herself as a proud restaurant receptionist. She starts working as soon as she leaves school, drops her books, gets her uniform on, and walks to the hotel-restaurant only a few kilometers from the entrance to El Rosario Sanctuary. She shall be among the first youngster-girls being inspired by the tourism phenomenon in the area, and is now thinking about her University studies on the Tourism Industry!

“I love to welcome people from all over, either foreign or Mexicans. I love to see how our Mexican kitchen is so varied and delicious and how foreigners enjoy it and find it interesting, since all preparations have a lot to do with our ancestral kitchen and tools from Pre-Hispanic Mexico! I love to listen to people speaking other languages!  My parents say they would have never dreamed to see this developing in our little village. Mom and dad have stable and good jobs as guides. I am proud to be one of the first girls in my village daring to apply for a formal job. Our Oyamel forests and Monarchs have made big, big changes in our lives and our future.”

At the Sanctuary, Humberto 37, Belinda’s father, and her grandma, “Mama Luisa”, age 72, are both proud of Belinda and her future. They also protectively care for their ancestral Oyamel forests, believing that Monarchs are a blessing upon all of the families who live in the region.

“This is where our treasure is. We want to assure our forests and natural resources for our future generations, not only for Belinda. We as children would hardly manage to complete elementary school studies which were the only available up to 20 years ago. Monarchs changed our whole surrounding and perspectives.  They have made us realize the treasure we live in and the huge commitment it means to be in charge of its preservation.”

Sierra Chincua Sanctuary

Placido, age 14, loves to be a guide at Sierra Chincua. He helps his father and grand-father reforesting in the summer. He also loves to hear his grandpa composing songs for the Monarchs and singing to visitors.

“All of our parents and grandparents and us young children (only boys) spent the week combing the whole forest of the reserve looking for monarchs that suddenly disappeared due to the intense heat wave we had weeks ago.  It took from Tuesday, Feb 26th, to last Friday, March 1st, to find them!  Late Friday afternoon, a group of our men came in joy assuring they had found them back!  The butterflies had been hiding at the very bottom of that far away canyon at Las Palmas site (far north in the forest, but at the bottom of that inaccessible canyon)!  Suddenly the monarchs all emerged sometime on Friday up at La Cabaña del Japonés site and they have been staying there up to now!”

“Now, a new colony might be getting formed at El Llano del Toro site, not open to public, in order not to disturb its formation!  We do not know if these could be a population coming from El Rosario Sanctuary already on their way north and only halting here momentarily.”

So the season continues amidst a feeling of certain relief and joy, after seeing the butterflies’ premature leaving. We have the sublime feeling of seeing Monarchs still here as if whispering to us:

“We and Nature know our time. You all keep still and only contemplate.”


Estela Romero

Journey North

Angangueo, Michoacán, México.