The Journal  

21 November 2005

Angangueo - Part 1

Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Angangueo, Michoacán, Mexico

November 15-16

  On our way to Angangueo we passed a horse that had come untied and wandered across the street, making the car in front of us swerve to avoid hitting it. The sign with the two black bumps marks a "tope" or speed bump which was another obstacle to look out for as some were not marked.

  Just outside of Angangueo we stopped to ask for directions. A group of people passing through the town had let a donkey carrying their belongings wander ahead of them.

From Salvatierra, it's all back roads to Santuario Mariposa Monarca, the place where monarch butterflies from the U.S. and Canada migrate for the winter. The nearest town to the sanctuaries is called Angangueo in the state of Michoacán. A few monarchs fluttered at roof level as we arrived there and found a place to stay. We chose the Hotel Margarita, took the luggage off the bike and headed into the hills in search of the butterflies. The curving mountain road that leads out of Angangueo and into the mountains is plagued with pot holes, some of which are large enough to swallow a motorcycle tire, that make riding like navigating through a mine field. But the road was deserted as we disappeared in an Alpine-like forest. As we topped the peak where the butterfly observation station was located, the GPS told us that we'd reached an elevation of 10,200 feet. We found the station deserted, closed to tourists for another week, and with darkness approaching we headed back to Angangueo.

  School was just letting out as we entered Angangueo. The boys and girls were dressed in matching uniforms and groups split off, heading either up or down the main street in the town.

  Our trusty Garmin GPS told us that we had reached an elevation of 10,218 feet at the Sierra Chincua sanctuary, which we found to be closed until next weekend. The max speed occurred when Holly's hand was on the throttle.

  As we were coming back down the mountain we passed four guys hauling firewood on hand-constructed skateboards. We parked further down the road and waited for them to turn the corner. In an attempt to show off for the camera and go a bit faster around the turn than he should have the guy in back lost his load (you can see it starting to tip over).

Lost the load.

Back in town, things were equally empty, the streets asleep in anticipation of the crowds that would come when the butterfly sanctuaries opened the following Saturday. All of the Angangueo's restaurants were closed by the time we returned at 6 p.m. We found a mercadito still open and bought a few snacks to hold us over until morning.

  Angangueo at dusk. Houses and cars line the narrow street that is one-way heading up, with the exception for motorcycles.

Cruising beside a kid on a bike.

  We found a mercadito still open and bought pan tostado (pre-toasted bread), queso cremoso (cream cheese) and some galletas (cookies), and returned to our hotel for una cena excelente.

View Angangueo Monarch Butterflies - Part 2

All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus