Dia de los Muertos Approaches

Dear friends, 

The great, main day can be any day from now on! Monarchs are only a few kilometers from our majestic Oyamel forests, here in our mountains in Angangueo, Michoacán, in Central México.

Summer and fall are rather quiet but so richly preparing all what is needed  for the coming months”, —Kevin, Diana and Fernanda shouted in excitement. These elementary and middle school students trained their binoculars at the mountain hills of the Monarchs’ three main Sanctuaries’ located at 10 thousand feet.

Everything is green and colorful at the same time; sun, fog and rain can be all possible in one day at this time of the year for us! Look, these are Astrids”, —Fernanda pointed—, “these other San Nicolás flowers!”, —Diana added—, “and these other purple tiny Orchids” —Marcela followed—, “all wonderful nectar sources for all pollinators including Monarchs; so many bright colored wild flowers for them to land on, since they look like they are starving when they arrive!” Wise words from these students. 

Also our delicious Tejocote fruit, which flavors our delicious hot fruit punch for our coldest nights in Christmas, which happens shortly after Monarchs arrive. There the Magüeyes and the Nopales, they are part of our main and most delicious meals; our parents and grandpas’ love fresh Pulque drink from the Magüey and we all love to have Nopales in so many different preparations for dinner at home, both are really nutritious!; to think that bats are their main pollinators! described Kevin as he ran to a yellow Tejocote tree with other students.

Raising sheep, cattle, poultry, and growing corn crops are among the main traditional activities for making a living in the small villages around the Monarchs’ Sanctuaries.

But the highlight for summer and fall are indeed our more than three hundred varieties of mushrooms that grow at the Monarchs Oyamel forests, some eatable and many not”, said Pedro, an elementary school student as he proudly showed us local mushrooms for sale during a local festival.  

This has become a main local industry and source of living in the whole region, now attracting visitors from all over including foreign experts on the field!.

Tecomates, Añiles, Gachupines, Huitlacoche”, many mushrooms bear Nahuatl names, one of the most spoken ancestral languages among the 68 indigenous languages still spoken nowadays  in our country!”, —Linda, Carolina and Gisela, pointed out. These elementary school students are very proud of the variety of mushrooms on display. 

As explained by Fernanda, Kevin and Diana, “Monarchs, the souls of our dead relatives, are once again coming to visit us hopefully by the 1st and 2nd of November. We families are preparing our altars at our homes amidst a rather intimate, family time, where the spirit of our dear dead relatives create special connections. Monarchs appearing in the sky will be our dead relatives arriving. Once we see the Monarchs and their majestic flight spiral down to us, this will signal that we should attend our ancestors to celebrate our great reunion. We will all break out in fest and celebration both at our homes and overnight at our bright ornamented cemeteries, with joy, colour, music, singing, fantastic anecdotes and the delicious meals and drinks they used to love when being still with us.

Fernanda, Kevin and Diana, then showed us their monitoring map. Their map shows that no Monarch has yet arrived. After their observations, the students treated themselves to a delicious ice-cream.

Any moment now the ancestral arrival of the Queen of butterflies, the Daughters of the Sun, the souls of our Dead Ones, will give full meaning to our great “Day of the Dead” festivity.

Estela Romero

Angangueo, Michoacán

México, Octubre 2019.