Up early again. Breakfast at seven and on the bus by eight. We had another two and a half-hour ride to the mountains.
On the way up we had to stop as we were crossing from one municipality to another. We had to pay a “toll” as the municipality we were leaving receives no revenue from the butterflies,
When we reached the town of Ocampo and got off the bus, we had to walk uphill a bit to get to our ride up the mountain. Walking doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that we were at 10,000 feet and the air was thin.
We had the choice to walk up or ride on a horse. We chose to ride as we had another 2,000 feet uphill to go. It was very steep, rough going. Each horse was accompanied by a guide who walked or ran alongside or behind. Halfway up, Pat came roaring past, hanging on for dear life. At the top, we got off and took a minute to calm ourselves and wait for Mike.
They rotate the horses at the top so that they get a good rest. Not the guides though, they ride/gallop back down to get another customer. They have to be very fit because they have to run up 2000 feet at that high an altitude
There was still another 300 meters for us to climb and it too was rough going. It was worth it though as the Monarchs were spectacular. We had to be very quiet and no flash photography. They are mostly huddled together for warmth against the trees and branches and don’t want to fly too much as that burns energy. There were hundreds flying around though.
We also saw hundreds of dead ones lying around. One of the guides would pick some up and turn them over and then put them to the side. I think he was looking for tags.
We chose to walk down as I didn’t fancy riding down on that steep hill. The walk wasn’t too bad but we had to stop a few times to rest our knees and get our-breaths back.
At the bottom, we were surrounded by vendors and people trying to get you to eat at their taco stand. I found it very annoying at first as all I wanted to do was rest up. We found a restaurant with Mike and Pat and had a bite to eat.
Afterwards, Rosalie was surrounded by kids selling stuff. She bought two shawls but then noticed a third little girl who hadn’t sold one. So now she has three, as well as a bunch of other stuff. I just stood to one side with my wallet open as Rosalie had left her purse on the bus. On the way back to the bus we walked through a gauntlet of stalls. At the end was a little girl wearing butterfly wings so I took a picture. She immediately demanded 20 pesos which was way too much so she only got ten, which was also too much.
The drive back to the hotel was uneventful except for a glorious sunset. Rosalie and I went out for a snack and then tried to buy some white wine. We tried three places but could only find red. I started to panic but Rosalie calmed me down, pointed out that we had enough for the evening and we could get more tomorrow in Patzcuaro. Phew!