Queretaro to Toluca via the Butterflies – 5 days 205 miles

February 6th, 2006 by David

   It is difficult to put recent experiences into an entry here – this trip amazes me every day with new people and experiences, and it is difficult to keep up in the personal journal I write. This blog is a balance between providing interesting stories and not overloading this site – there are many experiences that you don’t read about.

Just Another Day on the Farm - in Presa de Bravo
They make 500 tortillas 5 times a week (over 100,000 a year)

   Heading south from Queretaro, I camped the first night next to the house of a family who grew their own corn, which they eat and feed to their chickens and sheep. The next morning, I watched while the mother of the house and her neighbor hand-made tortillas. They make 500 tortillas five times a week, and you should watch the two videos on the left. The daughter of the house dreams of moving to the U.S. and buying a Ford Mustang. (Many people in these small towns have worked in the U.S., and most have family working abroad.)

A burro can carry a load!
South of Queretaro, it rains enough for agriculture, mostly corn.

   The land south of Queretaro receives more rain than the land to the north, and I traveled south through a patchwork of small corn fields. The harvest was in the fall and the land is mostly bare or covered with dry dead corn stalks.

   After staying with the bomberos (firemen) of the small town of Maravatio, I climbed to 11,000 feet where I encountered the first forest I have seen since Durango. This is where the butterflies are.

These trees are covered by monarch butterflies.  yes.
Millions of Monarchs at 11,000 ft
This is for real.

   Monarch butterflies, having migrated south from eastern U.S. and Canada, congregate here in colonies of millions of butterflies for the winter. In only a handful of sites you can find almost every monarch butterfly in the world. At night they sleep in huge clumps of butterflies coating a handful of trees, and during the day the sky is full of millions of butterflies (watch movie on right). Yes. Those pictures are for real. I camped within the park, and spent an entire day sitting beneath the butterflies.

   To hear more about what climate change means for these butterflies, you will have to wait until my next entry.

   The next two days were an easy bike ride down to Toluca, a large city 50 miles away from Mexico City. The first night I stayed with a family who, like the previous one, farmed corn that they ate and fed to their animals. (My favorite part of the conversation is when they ask me if I own any chickens). I also got to ride a horse (middle movie).

A horse, a Mexican, a bike, a tent
New Wheels
On the farm, in the shade of del Fuego

   I am in Toluca now, staying with the Bomberos. Tomorrow I will cut a course into Mexico City, the center of Mexico.

5 Responses to “Queretaro to Toluca via the Butterflies – 5 days 205 miles”

  1. Mike Murillo says:

    Those butterfly pictures are ludicrous! I can also see in your videos that your Spanish is vastly improved. Less of an American accent.

    Look forward to hearing about butterflies and climate change.

  2. Don says:

    Hi David:
    Wow, what spectacular country you are riding through. I especially love the people stories and the people connections that you make on your journey. And the butterflies, well, they’re beyond words. I’ve heard about them for years, and to actually be among them, well, it has to be pretty special. (There must be some birds singing, too.)
    –don

  3. Heather says:

    Dave – I second the comments written above. The butterflies are certainly amazing, but what is most striking to me is the way in which you are connecting with the people – from the women making tortillos, to the smile from the ‘mexicano’ in your video, to even the shy friendly eyes of the kids begging outside the sanctuary. These are such rich journal entries – I look forward to reading and seeing more.

  4. David—your trip makes me so envious because it is such an adventure–just the Monarch butterfly experience alone but best of all meeting and understanding the people—we are all so similar. I am you Mom’s childhood buddy who grew up with her and went to Oakwood High School with her in Dayton. I am thinking of geting a bike myself and hitting the road–good for you.!!

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