Letter from Estela Romero

30 de Octubre de 2017


A Spectacular Massive Arrival Today!

A very special hello, friends!

Over the weekend, things were calm. Families in town were organizing to welcome our great fest of Day of the Dead. I kept an eye up to the blue sky every other minute, just in case the first Monarchs would appear as signal of the souls of beloved dead ones. I drove around Angangueo during the day, not getting any sign from anyone about the Monarch’s arrival.

Today, Monday, October 30th, I started my relaxed drive around town at 11:30 am. I headed up to El Cerrito, the legendary site on the hillside above Angangueo where I see monarchs stop before reaching the nearby sanctuaries, El Rosario and Sierra Chincua.

Suddenly, through the windshield, a couple of rather heavy and strong shadows flew by energetically. It felt as if two bats had suddenly passed, not common at all, of course. I stopped immediately. I went out of the car just to make sure. Viceroy butterflies?  Mmmm. They were so quick I couldn’t tell.

I drove on and as my head turned left through the window, there it was. My first of the season. I could very well see it flying along in such a royal, sovereign way — as if totally ignoring me! A wonderfully strong, bright orange and black butterfly, just like its name: Monarch.

Meters ahead, I could see another Monarch indeed, so quiet nectaring at a San Nicolás Flower. Beautiful!

On I went, running into the first locals on the road and asked them about any Monarchs arriving at the weekend:  

“No, perhaps one or two somewhere far away, but we are not sure they could have been Monarchs,” they assured.

I continued on my way and, only some meters ahead, three Monarchs, and then three more on the left, then some more in disorder flying in all directions. As I went on, a few more and more added up to each group in all directions to be seen.

“This is it, this is it!” I said to myself. A harmonious parade of monarchs were so clearly and incredibly streaming across the sky. I walked into the woods and was simply spellbound. The massive arrival was just taking place. Even at this time of the day (12:30-13:00 hrs), some small clusters were forming. I have not seen such a clearly massive arrival in years. “Is this announcing that the population will be much bigger than last year?” I thought to myself.

My camera started shooting. At moments it felt impossible shoot there were so many Monarchs flying everywhere all around the little forest. A few of them were nectaring, here and there.

For a moment, I almost took at picture of a family, whose heads appeared behind the bushes as they came to see the monarchs. People around were just realizing it, and in hours, people in town will be announcing to each other the official arrival!

This is when Tali 3, Dorian 6, and Henry 7, all elementary school children just leaving school and living close by came to me and led me more into the woods and shouted and ran all over telling me: “Here, there, Estelita!.”

Amidst the great emotion at each other, they even pointed to some mushrooms on the ground as a signal of the high humidity levels that the just-past raining season left.

Tali, Dorian and Henry filled the monitoring map while a wonderful sun still shone bright upon us, and a delicate noisy flying could be heard at the silent pauses, and a few not minor marvelous explosions continued to happen.

Tali, Dorian, Henry, their mother and me remained for a while more, admiring the wonderful performance at the beautiful green woods.

Next, I went back to continue driving around the surrounding communities to El Cerrito site, in order to find out whether this massive arrival could have been seen somewhere else not close to town.

No, it seems not.

Gilberto 17, a high school student, assured me: “I might have seen one or two orange butterflies flying at the weekend nearby home, but I cannot be sure they were Monarchs…they are so unique. Their flying is…just different.”

Yesenia 16, a high school student told me: “No, I cannot say I could have seen these many Monarchs at the weekend. No, of course, one cannot get confused, what we see today is just the arrival today!”

Paulina 11, Toño 3, and Mariela 7 were asking each other whether they could have seen the Monarchs at the weekend that I saw during my driving but may have not noticed at the right place. “Mmm, Mom or Dad never said anything; they always shout with joy the day they see the first ones.”

All along the road, children, youngsters and even a few adults were coming back and forth admiring the marvelous Monarchs’ parade flying as if in a race to EL Cerrito.

Carmelita, Jenny and Flor, 10, 10, and 11 respectively, who appeared at the windows of their home, allowed me to interview them and told me, very sure of themselves: “They just arrived today and seems all will be arriving at once.”

Jaime 10, Julieta 9 and Paola 10, all attending elementary, came to me, held the monitoring map in their hands, and analyzed it while I explained to them the migration and monitoring facts, and declared: “How can it be that they do such a long journey to save themselves from the hard winter in the North? We remember the arrival last year being so accurate, just the 2nd of November, the exact Day of the Dad; today, they are three days earlier, but it is anyway very accurate as the visits of the souls of our Dead Ones. Here they are again, Estelita! Bravo!”

So, the monitoring map registers a possible, very scarce and silent arrival of a few Monarchs appearing Saturday-Sunday, which none of the interviewed children or youngsters, even adults could assure, since they cannot remember having seen it clearly, and indeed a declared massive arrival today, October 30th.

When I got back into town, and at the passing by, I could see how personnel at the local tourism office started announcing the arrival with a colorful poster the celebration of the Day of the Dead in our state and town. Every state all throughout México announces its own Day of the Dead Festivities in its own particular way.

Finally, Daniela, Lupita, and Marilyn, 18 year old high school students from downtown Angangueo, offered to come to this emblematic view point to our town. To my question as to what they thought about Monarchs arriving one more season to our region, they  expressed: “We locals know how special a region we are for sponsoring Monarch butterflies in our forests during their overwintering time with us; As long as our culture and traditions continue to honor Nature, our local responsibility with Monarchs and our ancestral tradition of the Day of the Dead with the legend of Monarchs as an essential part of it, we can be sure we will always deserve to be sponsoring Ambassadors to Matusalén Monarchs ancestrally coming to stay with us during this time of the year and hopefully into the long, long term future!”

Welcome Matusalen Monarchs to Angangueo while our ancestral traditions on the Day of the Dead melt as part of this spectacular, massive arrival filling our town’s atmosphere of a unique mysticism!

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán