Monarch Butterflies Sanctuary in Mexico
I think our family's fascination with butterflies began as soon as our oldest could talk. She has always loved butterflies and even went so far to tell people, in her adorable 3 year old voice, that she wanted to be an entomologist when she grew up. (That's a scientist who studies insects. And no, that's not a typo…she could say that when she was about 3 years old!)
We've studied butterflies in our homeschooling. We bought the butterfly kit with live caterpillars sent to us in the mail. They died. We went to butterfly farms and houses and somewhere, in an old scrapbook at my sister's house, we have a photo of her in one of those wood cut-outs at a zoo in Navarre, FL with her face in a circle that makes her look like she's a butterfly.
Yep. We love butterflies.
So when the opportunity arose for us to join a local group to go see them, we couldn't pass it up.
As you may know, Monarch butterflies make a miraculous pilgrimage to Mexico every fall and stay through the spring in the mountains of the state of Michoacan. The amazing thing is that the butterflies that begin the journey die along the way and never make it to their destination, yet every year, they come back…in the millions.
We left EARLY in the morning, at around 6am. Which means we were awake before then…with a night owl momma and a few night owl kids. This was no easy feat, but the excitement of seeing one of creations most amazing sights, we didn't have any trouble getting everyone awake.
The ride to the butterfly sanctuary was L-O-N-G. Like 6 hours long. But we had snacks and an iPad and were good to go. The location of the sanctuary was in Sierra Chincua at about 10,000 feet in elevation. Read that as code for "quite chilly with not enough oxygen to breathe" and you've got the idea.
The trek into the mountains to see the butterflies was, in a word, rough! We'd considered taking a horse, but as we arrived, a bunch of other people were snatching up the horses left and right, so we hiked it. I think it took at least 1 hour to get to THE spot. A long, hard hour with numerous stops to try to make our hearts stop beating out of our chests. I'll admit that I am not in the best shape, but holy moly if a hike at 10,000 feet doesn't smack you in the face with the fact you need to get into better shape.
When we finally got to where the butterflies were, it was breathtaking. No pun intended. We had to be super quiet to not disturb them. And they were everywhere: flying all around us, above us in the trees and all over the ground…some dead, some alive.
It was not uncommon to have one land on you. What a treat.
I wasn't sure how our "little prince" would handle it all, but he LOVED it. There's just something magical about seeing these amazing creatures flying around. It was a once in a lifetime experience to see God's handiwork like this.
One of the most amazing things is how serene and quiet it was. There were SO many butterflies, yet no sound. No beating of wings. No birds chirping. Only quiet whispers of children and adults marveling at the Monarchs.
Here's a little video I shot while we were there. It does not do it justice.
If you ever have a chance to see the Monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico, DO IT! We all loved it and are so thankful to our friends at La Ola, a local children's home, for inviting us to come with them. THIS was a Bucket List item!