A Case Of The Butterflies

We were lucky enough to be able to jump straight onto the next bus heading to Butterfly Town (Zitacuaro) so luckily no long waits at the Mexican bus station for us. The bus was very posh and pretty expensive but as there was no alternative, we took our complementary muffin and bottle of juice and reclined our seats until we were asleep in the row behind’s laps.

The bus was a short 2 hour ride west out of Mexico City and we were treated to yet more, not only age, but time and client inappropriate movies. A terrifying film

about a huge earthquake in Mexico City in the 80s that killed loads of people. After the bus ride we grabbed a 30 peso taxi to, what turned out to be the swankiest hotel we had yet stayed in.

Keeping in mind, this is not a highly sort after location for tourists, so anyone coming here would be certainly older than us or looking for something really specific. So our options where very limited to say the least. The hotel was pretty suave compared to the dorms and hostels that we have become accustomed too. Everything was white and complimentary shampoo and soaps, which would only be abused in our normal places.

Obviously the first thing we did was pocket all the complementary goodies, and head out to check out the town. There was a weekend market happening with food stalls lining the streets, venders selling everything you could think of and busking for a peso or two. We stumbled across a brief, but horrid fight between a couple of young boys, who can’t have been more than 12, violently head butting and throwing punches far beyond their age. Luckily it was broken up pretty quick by a group of older kids. The adults in the park that were a bit closer to the action stood around watching but doing nothing.

With both of us still not fully recovered from the over indulgence of Mexican food, the smell on the streets sent our stomaches turning straight into a Japanese bar in the hope for something plain and sin picante. We settled upon ordered a noodle dish to share, although they only apparently had spaghetti, which they promptly went out and bought from the little tienda next door. If you didn’t have noodles and only had spaghetti but in fact didn’t have spaghetti why not go out and buy noodles? We weren’t hopeful to day the least. Dinner that night turned out to be everything we had hoped for and more, delicious and full of flavour but absolutely no spicey spice in it whatsoever! Who knew that all we needed to perk us up was a bowl full of spaghetti and vegetables. Like, loads of vegetables.

We passed out on the hotel triple quadruple king bed, watching films on the flat screen, another luxury we hadn’t had in a while.

We were up super early to grab a taxi to Macheros where we met Ellen and Joel. We had a delicious (and cheap) breakfast and then we were taken to meet our horses who would carry our fat arses 1.5 hours up a very steep and dusty mountain to Perro Cerron to the Monarch Butterfly Migration spot. About 30 minutes into our horses dragging us up the mountain, we saw hundreds of monarch butterflies flying over our heads! By the time we arrived at the top, we could see thousands upon thousands of monarchs flying away for the season.

Una Mariposa @ Cerro Pelon

Half way up it got so dusty we could barely see or breathe. Our horse handlers can’t have been breathing in anything other than pure dust. Alice’s handler had a hold of my horses tail to help pull him up. Aside from the chaotic dust it must have been very unpleasant because my horse just did not stop farting in his face! We decided to give our horse handlers the masks we had been given and almost all of our water. They needed it far more than us, unfortunately it did feel a bit like a awkward, lazy foreigner experience because we were literally just sat there.

Almost a Cluster @ Cerro Pelon

Up the top at the “Butterfly Meadow” We saw one big cluster and a lot of individual pairs mating. During taking what seemed to me like as many photos as there were butterflies, we learnt the difference between male and female; being that the male have two black marks in their wings and the black veins are thinner. There were hundreds of dead butterflies on the ground, which we also learnt were all males; this is due to the fact that the males die after sex, unlucky.

Getting Lucky-Unlucky @ Cerro Pelon

Despite having three guides we disappointingly didn’t learn that much as pretty much everyone on the tour was already a biologist or bug specialist, so super fun company! It was absolutely incredible to watch them all flying over our heads and past us. Until I got stung by a bloody wasp. Yes, I nearly died, yes it really hurt.

The Wasp That Stung Jess, Probably @ Cerro Pelon

We all had lunch in a lovely meadow opposite the butterflies. As we sat, we watched a hundred of them fly over us towards the top of the mountain and then about 15 minutes later they (or another 100, hard to tell!) flew back over us the other way. It was pretty magical.

The Last Cluster Of The Season @ Cerro Pelon

We were given an option of either riding our horses down or taking a scenic route back on foot. We gladly took the scenic “on foot” option as our poor horses and handlers had sweated hard on the way up. We walked most of the way down then for the last 20 or so minutes took our horses down the slightly less steep part; because, like all normal people we had become overly attached to yet another animal that we would only know for a brief period of time.

We shared a cab with a couple young Chinease guys who were studying (maths) in America at college. On the email that we originally received from the JM butterfly, the company who took us to see the butterflies, they had outlined, in a lot of detail, how to reach them from a few points throughout Mexico. They even went to the extent of writing a voucher for their clients to print and show taxi drivers which said (in Spanish) “ hi, please take us to JM butterfly at (address) in Macheros. The fair will be $300 pesos.. blah blah blah” or something similar anyway. Our taxi to JM in the morning had only cost us $180 pesos because we did not show them this $300 peso ticket. The poor guys in our taxi, who didn’t speak Spanish at all and had used this voucher had paid $300 each way. Despite this set back, the company was fantastic and had a great background of conservation and genuine passion for the butterflies. We dropped the students off at the bus station and headed back to our hotel to shower off the dust; trust me when I say they were not happy with the sight of us, covered in three inches of dirt against their pearly white backdrop. Nonetheless, we pocketed today’s complementary soaps and coffee sachets and scrubbed off the thick dusty layers.

Las Mariposas Y Las Flores @ Cerro Pelon

That night we went back to the amazing spaghetti Japanese place and again watched her dash out to buy not one, but two packs of spaghetti tonight (we were feeling much better obviously).

The next morning we weren’t really sure of our plan as we hadn’t heard from

canon to see if the lens was ready to be picked up. We had a couple options as we boarded the posh bus back to Mexico, with our complementary cookies and juice. If the lens wasn’t ready we would have to stay in Mexico City another night, or we might be able to get a bus to Puebla or (better yet) might go all the way down to Oaxaca as Ad and Rach had just messaged saying that’s where they were headed!

We finally bought a Mexican sim which made our lives so much easier, don’t know why we didn’t do this two months ago! Now we could order Uber’s, check our emails and even call places like, I don’t know, canon? And see if the information we required was readily available via a simple call.

With no plans, no idea and no place to stay that night, we were off.

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