Lakes, Butterflies, More Butterflies, and More Lakes.
January 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Road Trip over, it was time to rest low for a couple of days (ie: stay in fuzzy socks until the afternoon and lay in the grass and eat big lunches). And plan the next outing for the weekend: the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
This was kind of my #1 To Do item on my When In Mexico list (that and the Cave of the Swallows), so… it is needless to say that I was like a wound-up bouncy ball the entire drive there. Which was supposed to be a couple of hours away from Cuernavaca, where I was staying, but…. somehow ended up taking half the day. Like all good car trips : )
The first morning stop was at the Lagunas de Zempoala:
It’s still strange to me, to have such clean and undiluted natural beauty just a few minutes’ drive away from a city that feels packed and dirty and dusty and like it has no end. And then, poof, you are here:
Really, this is just over the hill? And all car noises and fumes magically disappear?
After a sunny breakfast a la picnic, it was time to hit the playground:
Which was exactly like the rusty, colorful playgrounds I played on in Poland twenty years ago. Except in a better setting and with horses.
Which we ended up riding for a few minutes, around the valley. Not very climatic, but it’s not like you can ever not enjoy being on a horse, so it was all good.
And then, a long stretch of road, interrupted only by people selling us fruit on the road and us asking a million and a half people for directions. We made it to Macheros in the afternoon, just in time for a late lunch and a hike up to (attempt to) find invisible pyramids behind the B&B we were staying at.
The next morning, it was a foggy sunrise and then a long hike up to the top of the mountain. I chose to go to the Cerro Pelón reserve because it seemed the most off-the-beaten path. And what’s the fun in butterfly-hunting when there are more weekend vacationers from Mexco City than trees? It’s also the first place that the butterflies were discovered, some forty years ago, so it seemed like the place to be. And it was; it was beautiful. The hike up was an hour-and-a-half of perpetual up, but we made it on our two feet (against everyone’s insisting offers that it’s better to take a horse), and it was the best reward ever, to be on top of a 3,000m mountain with millions of butterflies fluttering about you.
My only complaint is that it was my first day in Mexico that wasn’t sunny. And, butterflies tend to play best when there is sunshine. So, I might have to re-do the hike one day. But it was still amazing to see towering trees covered in butterflies instead of leaves. Or to be laying down and watching them swim all around you.
Between October and March, millions of butterflies fly from Canada to this area to enjoy the warmer weather and to mate. It’s impressive. And macabre, to see all of the dead males lying on the forest floor, their deeds already extinguished. Macabre, but beautiful:
After the hike back down and another round of the village’s specialty- hot coco with rum- it was time for the equally-long drive back. Scenic stops and market-browsing included a random town with a pretty yellow church and purple flowers:
The latter was not unlike Lake Como in northern Italy, and it was easy to see why all of the international and wealthy people build their houses around here. For me, it wasn’t anything particularly remarkable, but I do understand why people find it charming. I was probably just holding a grudge against something that seems like Italy, but isn’t (after all, that’s where my heart belongs to first).
Then, another couple of hours of unmarked topes and potholes and dark mountain roads to get back home. While singing to sappy latin songs and reflecting on