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|News from Mexico: Trip Report from Monarchs Across Georgia|
10: A Visit to the Chincua Sanctuary
Our guide, Arnulfo Gonsales Moreno, explained Sierra Chincua had been closed from Tuesday, February 2 until Sunday, February 7. The sanctuary had reopened on Monday, February 8. He told us there had been “puro sol” (pure sun) since Sunday. One of the local tienda owners told us the area where the butterflies are located is called “La Joyita,” which means “the little jewel.” He drew a picture to show us this area is a valley and explained the butterflies had moved into this area when the storms, rain, wind, and ice had come. He said the butterflies were more protected from weather here because there was no ice in this area.
that about 100 trees were covered by monarchs. He said they had also roosted
in this same area, located on the west facing side of the mountain, last
year. We noticed the monarchs were mostly hanging in clusters on oyamel
trees, though several were also positioned in the lower shrubs at the
edge of the colony and appeared to be taking advantage the sunshine there.
The temperature in the shade was 51 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the sun,
our thermometer registered 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels in the
shade fluctuated between 53% and 58%. Humidity registered about 30% in
the sun. Our location was N 19° 40.158’ and W 100° 17.772’.
After leaving Sierra Chincua, we travelled south to the town of Jungapeo. The trip took about 4 hours because so many roads in the area were still closed. We traveled through Tuxpan and were able to cross the bridge over the Tuxpan river that had flooded just days before. The main road was covered in dust from the dried mud. We saw several people wearing dust masks. We also saw mud deposits on the side streets and one car still completely covered in mud.
February 11: Cerro Pelon Sanctuary and School Visit
Arroyo, our friend in Macheros, accompanied our group up the mountain to see the butterfly colony. It was a cool overcast day. When we arrived at the colony about 3 pm, we witnessed heavy clusters of monarchs hanging in the trees of this deep forest. Monarchs were also densely packed on the trunks of the oyamel and broadleaf trees. It was impossible to see how many trees were covered with butterflies. We observed some butterflies in flight and many more shivering butterflies as the temperature was only 49.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Our group was amazing by the soft sound of shivering and fluttering. Arroyo told us in January four separate groups of monarchs had joined together to form the single colony we were seeing today. The name of the area where the monarchs were clustered is known as “El Salto.” When we looked up this word in our Spanish dictionary, we discovered it was a noun that meant a leap, bound, or jump or even a leaping-place or ground from which leaps could be taken. This area is located on the west facing side of the mountain and is protected by ridges. The elevation was 9,304 feet. Our GPS coordinates were N 19° 22.754’ and W 100° 16.085’.
Before leaving Mexico, members of our group wanted to say “¡Hola!” (Hello!) to their students and co-workers at Austell Intermediate School, Druid Hills High School, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Stone Mountain Memorial Association, and Trinity School.
Susan Myers and Kim Baily