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Last Visitor in the Forest
by Estela Romero
(English/Español)

March 17, 2013

Dear Friends:
It is Sunday. Today I was the very l a s t  o n e  to visit the Sanctuary. It was nearly sunset when I arrived, so the guides hesitated to let me go. I explained my special interest to take photos as the last visitor in the forest, and they let me pass with a free entrance.

The guides warned me I would only find very tiny clusters. The few remaining butterflies were too deep in the forest, they said, and too dispersed for me to see them. But courageous as I am sometimes considered, I decided to go see for myself.

Walking through the forest all on my own, I had never felt such emotions. After all these years, this season has been the most moving farewell to the Monarchs. Knowing I was about to find them gone--and having just learned how few butterflies there are this year--I was struck by the huge responsibility they bear. They must produce the next generation in order for the magnificent migration to continue. This brought a feeling of despair, for them and for us too.

I was also concerned about the effect of our recent bad weather on the butterflies. For a 48-hour period we experienced intensive rain and even some snow. Temperatures fell below zero Celcius degrees. After our very dry winter, I was relieved to see evidence of rain along the path, welcomed by our forest and by our farms.

When I arrived at what had been the core of the Sanctuary last weekend, I discovered I was indeed too late. It was totally empty.

The only remaining evidence that the colony had been here at "Los Letreros" for a little more than two weeks was a scattering of dead butterflies.

The darkness in the forest was the breaking point for me. It seemed to be the silent voice of the very last Monarchs. Majestically present somewhere in the dark forest, they asked me to let them rest now and to let them go last.

I turned my head skyward, and saw my signal to leave. I would have to find my way back down with only half light from the Sun and half from the Moon.

No more time for tears! I had to walk out of the forest quickly. My flashlight had no battery and I must return before the guides became concerned about me.

The season is indeed over. Natives will close their little restaurants in some days. Eagerly, they will be counting the months until the next Monarch season. Native venders rode their horses back home, loaded with their leftover merchandise.

The little homes in the villages around, as well as in our town, should now await for a very peaceful time and pray for Monarchs to manage a successful survival on their way North.

So now, I must say my temporary good bye to all who have followed the monarchs during their winter stay in this region of Angangueo.

Adios from Michoacán, México!

Your local reporter,

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán

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Silence

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