Addison has led us down many unexpected roads. Some have been terrifying and heartbreaking. Other adventures have been full of wonder and joy. These past few days in Mexico she has brought us along on an amazing experience that is so special it is hard to put in words – we got to walk amongst millions of monarch butterflies and feel their wings brush against us. (Admittedly Charlie really just wanted to eat them.) And we have the Princess to thank for it.
When we first talked about escaping a little of the Vancouver winter way back in the spring, we listed Mexico as a possibility. She immediately asked if that’s where the monarch butterflies go. I looked it up and was happy to find the butterflies migrate to forests just two and a half hours away from Mexico City.
So that’s how we ended up in Mexico City on December 28 after a not-so-fun five hour redeye flight which involved one of our girls puking several times because of turbulence and the other one hyper and overtired. However, we all recovered quickly and spent the next few days exploring one of the largest cities in the world. Contrary to what many may think, Mexico City is great. Safe, easy to get around, delicious food, lots of interesting sights. We loved it. We were there over New Year’s Eve but LAC (life after children) means our countdown to 2017 consisted of take out tacos and lights out by 10pm.
2017 started with a two hour bus ride and then a bumpy half hour in a taxi to the sleepy little town of Macheros, up in the Sierra Madres on the border between Mexico and Michoacan states. Population 400. And just as many horses and dogs. But most importantly, Macheros is where you’ll find the entrance to the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Reserve. There is just one small little obstacle between town and the monarch colonies – about 1000 metres of vertical on a three kilometre trail. The only way to get to the top is either on foot or horseback. We chose the path of least resistance and opted for horses.
Now as a transplant parent, there are a lot of mental risk calculations that take place every day. But the whole point of transplant is not to live life in a bubble but to live. So if that meant letting Addison ride a horse up a mountain (with no helmet!!!) to fulfill her wish to see monarchs then we were ok with that. The Princess was a natural at riding solo. Charlie was a trooper too, either piggybacking on me or Aaron, mostly napping.
The only horse mishap actually involved me falling off! (I was fine.)
Of all the things we have seen, the monarch migration certainly ranks amongst the top. It is magical. And even more special when shared through the eyes of your child. I am sure some people think we indulge Addison’s whims too much, and maybe we spoil her by saying yes too often. I am just fine with that. She has been through so much to be here. Life is short and we know how quickly things can change.
To see the look of delight on my big girl’s beautiful face as she walked through a cloud of flying monarchs was truly priceless. There were millions of them. Some resting on the trees in a blanket of orange, others carpeting the ground, and still more landing on us. The most incredible part was the sound. Who knew you could hear the flapping of butterfly wings if there are enough of them filling the sky?!
It was even more than I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t help but leave with a feeling of serenity, touched by one of nature’s wonders. And though we are now in a beachfront condo in sunny Bucerias, just north of Puerto Vallarta, with the sound of the surf lulling us to sleep each night, I miss beautiful Macheros and that complete contentment. For those few days, it was a little bit of utopia where everything just felt perfect.
Thank you butterflies!
Elaine, Aaron, Addison and Charlie