Monday, June 5, 2023

Monarchs. Migration. Mexico. Miracles. METAMORPHOSIS!

How do you put into words the experience of a lifetime? A bucket list adventure that defies the limits of words. If every picture is worth a thousand words -- this trip to see the Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico? What's the biggest number that exists? Then multiply that by a billion. 

Priceless. Astounding. Breath-taking. Faith-fulfilling. Knee buckling. Hold your breath and pinch yourself squealing rhapsody of all of the senses. Clap your hands over your mouth so you don't scream (you're supposed to be silent, so as not to disturb the Monarchs.)

Not even in the same ballpark. Not even close. 

Yes. That's me on a horse. That's a 66-year-old grandma with her 74-year-old handsome husband on horseback at 10,500' elevation about to ride up the side of a mountain. To see butterflies. LOTS of butterflies. Monarch butterflies. By the tens and tens of thousands. Streaming.  

Let me start off by saying this is the most adventuresome-adventure that we ever adventured. This is significantly different than our snorkeling off of Bora Bora for example. Compellingly challenging at times physically, for our senior citizen bodies to accomplish -- yet spoiler alert, I'm going back on March 2, 2024 for the sequel to the 'once-in-a-lifetime-experience.'  

I am absolutely compelled to return as 'hostess' for others. But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Where do I even begin? At the beginning or before the beginning? Here's our tour group having our first lunch together on Day #1. Incredible people. Strangers and now life connections, because. 

Monarchs. Miracles. Metamorphosis. 

You know how I feel about color, right? All the color. All the time. 

Here I am at the beginning of our first visit-a-Monarch sanctuary day. 
Blue skies. Blessed. 

I know you want a close-up of the denim jacket that I painted. Researched and found a fleece-lined denim jacket with a detachable hood. Got it delivered to my doorstep and immediately got out my acrylic paint, because time was of the essence. (Quick drying paint.) Big Monarch on the back. Many Monarchs on one sleeve. That's as far as I got. In the time allotted.

Photo taken on the way to the Orlando Airport

The two of us were 'back-up' fill-ins for two people unable to go on the tour, and we had about 5 weeks of time for preparation before we flew into Mexico City. Five weeks is not a lot of time to prepare for such an experience. Just sayin'.... it can be done. Just jump in.

For example. We didn't become proficient in Spanish in 5 weeks. As a very specific example, I didn't learn the Spanish word for hairdryer. An ensuing game of charades, complete with sound effects did NOT convey my need to the lodge employee with zero words of English. We laughed with other. Even as my sound effects of whooshing got louder, she had no idea what I needed standing there with wet hair. Which made us laugh louder. 

Note-to-self: secador de pelo

Interestingly. Five weeks is just enough time to gather 199 pairs of eyeglasses to pack meticulously into a padded box, nesting each pair inside of the next. Glasses to share in a remote village near the Monarch sanctuaries.

It was also just enough time to gather an entire suitcase full of art supplies to donate to a school during our author visit day! 

We were able to join in on this journey due to Carol Pasternak from Canada. The Monarch Crusader knew that this exact excursion was on my every dream board and my manifestation envisioning in technicolor. 

When she messaged me directly to ask if I was interested in the two available slots? I didn't hesitate for a nano-second. 


She even Face-timed me to explain the specifics. Including that school visit where I would come to donate the art supplies. 

It was Carol that knew that eyeglasses would be appreciated, sharing that with our private group chat. So gather I did: church, Elks, neighborhood, FB friends via snail mail etc. 

Note to self #2. Next time you take 199 pairs of eyeglasses into Mexico, get a letter from a foundation saying that you're going to DONATE them, to save a big hassle at Customs and a BIG surcharge. That's a tale for another day. Just trust me. Get the letter ahead of time. 

Nervous Nelly Alert. (No shade on anyone named Nelly) 

Just as soon as we started telling people we were going to Mexico all sorts of eyebrows would be raised: 

"What about the water?"  yada yada yada "What about the _____?" Fill in the blank.

***Just telling you ahead of time. You tell your friends you are going into 'real' Mexico (not cruise-ship Mexico) and they start raising concerns. Be prepared.

We had Sid-our-guide-of-guides who hand-carried healthy/safe/clean drinking water for us every day to fill up our individual water bottles. Sid and Chris, partners at Explora Latin America are two truly amazing individuals. 

Just as it is difficult to describe tens of thousands of Monarchs as they stream down from the Oyamel fir trees on the slightest puff of a breeze, it is also difficult to describe the pure hearts of these two incredible people. 

Guides. Friends. Encyclopedias-of-Experience. 

(Picture from our very last night's dinner & farewell)

These next AMAZING photos are from my fellow tour participant, 
Jude the Adventurer (from Canada.) 

She has permitted me to share her amazing photos as captured through her awesome 'real' camera, her perspective expertise, and her editing experience. 

“Fascism is cured by reading, and racism is cured by traveling.” - Miguel de Unamuno

This is just the most minimal of glimpses into a life ALTAR-ING adventure. (See what I did there?)

If you have time to watch an 8+ minute

'home video' I have gathered these and tons more photos into a home movie of sorts. I built it with the intention of teachers being able to share in their classrooms, to get a better idea of what the migration looks like in Mexico, to inform their students. 

I am returning! March 2, 2024. 
Explora Latin America. 

We still have space in the van for you to join us! 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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