February 16, 2012
Estela: How long have you been working as guides?
Guides: We started when we were around 6 years old, accompanying our parents who were guides at the time.
Estela: What is your working schedule?
Guides: We work from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon
Estela: Tell me something about your families.
Guide (Sergio): We have 13 members in my family.
Guide (Agustín): We have only nine. Some of us work at the sanctuary. The rest stay at home, working our land and taking care of the cattle.
Estela: How do you become a guide at the Sanctuary?
Guides: Nowadays, we have mandatory training here at the Sanctuary before the season starts. We learn about the life of the monarchs, conservation of their habitat, and the importance of preserving our forests—for the monarchs and also for ourselves as inhabitants of this region. We also learn some basic rules about being sociable with tourists, and how to provide first aid in case someone gets ill or has an accident.
Estela: What is your salary as a guide?
Guides: We earn 700 pesos weekly.
Estela: Can anyone apply to be a guide?
Guides: No. You need to be an ejidatario (or the son, daughter or wife of an ejidatario). An outsider to our ejido cannot play any role in the whole organization of the sanctuary.
Estela: Is it fun for you to do this job?
Guides: Yes, we enjoy meeting so many people every week! We love to speak about our lives and region and learn about their lives and different regions in our country. We especially enjoy meeting foreign people. It's a big challenge to communicate, with the few words in English we happen to know, and the few words in Spanish they speak. People assure our language, Spanish, is very difficult to learn.
Estela: In terms of quantity, how would you compare the number of monarchs arriving this year to last year?
Guides: Oh, we think there has been a moderate decrease in number this season. Also, this year the monarchs moved a little southwestward from Llano de los Conejos, to a point we call Las Palmas.
Estela: Finally, what will you do the rest of the year, once the season ends?
Guides: Most likely, a group of us boys in the region will organize and go to the cities of Toluca or México City to work in the construction industry. Most of us have at least one relative working and living there, so we stay until the next season comes again.
The last point we stopped at, was at a small area right beside the entrance of the Sanctuary, where there is a nursery of Pine and Oyamel trees, which are planted during summer time, --our main raining season--, and in which, volunteers can participate and earn some extra-money.
By this time, Sergio and Agustín were starting to get a little distracted from our nice talk together, since, a group of students from the capital city of our state, Morelia, were arriving. Among them were very nice girls calling their attention! We looked at each other, and, without saying a word, agreed it was time to finish our talk. They dropped me down to always patient Rocinante and shot the last photo all together with him. We said good bye and agreed that we would meet again when I take you all a little more into the forest to see the monarchs.
Your local reporter,
Sergio and Agustín
At the entrance
Farmers working the land.
The oyamel and pine nursery
Students visiting from Morelia