San Miguel de Allende</B>
Since my last post, we have settled in again at San Miguel de Allende. We left Lo de Marcos on February 8 and have been in San Miguel since February 10. It's easy to let one day blend into the other; it's like home here.
I am a cool weather gal!!
The weather in San Miguel was cold when we arrived if early February, apparently unseasonably cold. Night temperatures dropped down to 4C, so we were happy to hop out of bed, turn on the furnace, then jump back between the warm covers and snuggle in while our rig warmed up. In early February, daytime temperatures hit the low 20s. After temperatures in the high 20s or low 30s (Celsius) and humidity around 95%, the cool, dry mountain in San Miguel is a blessed relief. Now that we're well into March, the nighttime temperatures have risen to around 12C and daytime fluctuates between the mid-and high-20s. It's perfect!! Well, at least for me. I'm not one to don a bathing suit and work on my tan. I'd rather don my walking shoes and explore every nook and cranny in a city.
Our campsite, Weber's RV Park and Tennis Courts, ranges from 4 to 14 rigs depending on what is happening in town. Since the maximum length of rig here is 24 feet, there aren't any big 5th wheel rigs, Class "A" buses or long trailers. Most of the people with bigger rigs stay at a campsite west of San Miguel on the road to Dolores Hidalgo. It's about an hour walk into centro from there or a 40 peso taxi. For us, it's a 15 minute walk up the hill to centro. And, since most of the rigs are smaller, the travellers tend to be Europeans who travel in much smaller rigs than most Canadians and Americans. How nice for us to meet people from southern France, Amsterdam, Bonn Germany, Brazil, and Canadian neighbours from Alberta and Quebec. Unfortunately, in the month here, only a few Americans have been here. We listen to where they have been (as far south as Ushuaia, Argentina), how long they have been travelling (for one couple, 10 years!!) and where are they going next (Alaska!!). We have collected cards from our neighbours with promises to visit and offers to visit us in Victoria.
While we have been travelling in Mexico, the Pope's visit has loomed large everywhere we've travelled. Huge banners adorn every cathedral and community projects show pueblos at their best. I had the advantage to watch a full "event" telecast online from San Cristóbal de las Casas. While I am admittedly not a Catholic, I was mesmerized by the music, singing and cheering crowds, and I appreciate the focus of this Pope on the struggles of indigenous peoples around the world. During the two hour telecast, the Pope's face beamed when he had a special one-on-one moment, and his face crumpled with emotion when a speaker broke down and pleaded with the world to listen to the Pope. We have seen the abject poverty in Chiapas and one can only hope that the Pope's visit will move the Mexican government to provide much needed help.
The Monarch Butterflies
Although we've travelled close to the butterflies before, we've never managed to hit it right in terms of timing. The Monarchs travel from Canada to the high mountains near Morelia in the state of Michoacan, about 3 hours from here. How this fourth generation knows exactly where to go is still a mystery. This year there are about 50% more butterflies who are here. They arrive in November and hibernate until toward the end of January when the weather warms up. Since they are cold-blooded, they don't fly until the sun warms their bodies.
What jeopardizes the butterflies is the demolition of areas of milkweed in the US where the butterflies lay there eggs. Many people have worked tirelessly to encourage the planting of butterfly-friendly plants. Logging in Mexico and Canada is also destroying their habitat. Fortunately, awareness is protecting the forests.
We booked a day tour with "Discovery Tours" and would highly recommend them. They picked us up at 8 and, after picking up a few others, were on our way by 9. How magical to start the ascent up the mountain just after noon and to see the Monarchs fluttering by a few at a time. Since we parked the van at 10,000 feet and could feel the affects of the altitude, we opted to take horses up the next thousand feet and walk down (100 pesos or about $8CAD). It was a good choice as we got to enjoy the ascent and see the number of butterflies multiply with each hundred feet. At the top, at 11,000 feet, thousands of butterflies circled, dove, swooped, landed and dazzled us. At the summit, areas where roped off to protect the butterflies from eager photographers. It was absolutely silent at the top as our group of 15 and others totalling about 40 were in awe of what we were experiencing. Gracias Madre Naturaleza...Muchas Gracias!!!!