Friday, February 8, 2008

Butterflies, the Sierra Madres and a Running Man

Phew! Sorry for the delay but I was worn out from our two-day trip to Morelia. We left early Tuesday morning and stopped in a few small towns on the way to the city. Morelia is the capital of Michoacan and roughly four hours from Zihua. We stayed in a hotel right on the historic plaza and spent the afternoon touring the city. We had dinner with Ibis' aunt then watched the results from Super Duper Tuesday before bed.

There have been several times in my life when I've stumbled upon new technology in an unexpected place. The first time I saw a self check-out line at the grocery store in Lexington, Kentucky, and now I've seen some high-tech crosswalk signs in Mexico. Chicago has lights that count down how many seconds you have left to hustle across the street before you get mowed down by oncoming traffic, but Morelia goes one step further. Their signs have the typical white walking man but he's animated and he runs faster and faster as the time gets closer to zero. By the time you get to zero you better be sprinting.

Wednesday morning we left early for the three-hour drive to El Rosario, one of four national butterfly sanctuaries. Butterflies, you say? Yeah, so did I but my mom really wanted to see them (something about a book called 1001 Things to Do Before You Die - this is one of them) and Ibis had always wanted to go, too. I was more excited for the hike. My dad opted out due to conflictions with the elevation and his lungs, so he waited in one of the restaurants down below. Morelia is roughly 6000 feet above sea level and the highest point of the hike was close to 10,000 feet above sea level. The hike itself took over an hour and my heart was racing from the elevation - fortunately they sell bamboo walking sticks so I didn't topple over. I've gotten used to small children selling things everywhere you turn but they had a new gimmick high in the mountains - they sing! Three children no older than five years old ran alongside us for several hundred feet, singing in hopes of a tip.

The butterflies themselves were much more impressive than I expected. Millions cover the trees and fill the air. You had to watch your step because they were everywhere - we were on their turf, after all - and several flew right into my head. I've heard people have been so moved by the experience that they weep; we didn't cry but it was worth the trip. We weeped a little when my mom lost her wallet, but that's another story.

By 3pm we were ready to head home with only the Sierra Madres standing between us and Zihua. One thing you may not know about me is I tend to get carsick, so mountain driving while riding in the backseat is not my idea of a good time. My beloved husband claims he gets sicker than me so he bumped my mother to the back with me. We stopped every couple hours to eat and gas up; Mexico only has one gas company, Pemex, and their bathrooms are usually very clean, so at least that part of the trip wasn't too bad.

We had dinner in Huetamo, the city where Ibis was born, then settled in for the last four hours of the drive. The two-lane road twists through the Sierra Madres, each turn offering a new surprise. We saw dogs, cats, rabbits, skunks, two bobcats (one alive, one dead), horses, cows and many burros, all startled by the bright lights when we burst around a bend. There are no street lights and the road has no shoulders, so the ride was anything but smooth. I was nauseous for most of the ride and spent a good 45 minutes hoping for a driveway or something where we could pull over. Finally, a small town with a bus stop and the entire car piled out to watch me throw up. Gotta love a supportive family.

We made it home at close to 3am, nearly 1000 kilometers under our belt. Yesterday was very quiet and today we're going to the beach for the afternoon. We have a sunset cruise tonight, then they leave tomorrow.

Oh! And we've settled on a Christmas present: they're buying us a front door with bars so I can keep the door open and still be safe. That might be my sweetest present yet.


Kristine said...

Oh my goodness. So sorry you got sick! Say hello to your Mum and Dad for me. Talk to you later...

Turkey said...

That sounds like so much fun... except for the lost wallet and feeling ill. These will be memories to keep forever. :)

Janna said...

Mel, the whole thing sounds amazing! Er, except for needing a door with bars...

So glad you had a great time. Now get to work! ;)