Trip: Natural Wonders
Name: Journey of the Monarch Butterflies and Artisans of Lake Patzcuaro
Trip: Textiles and Folk Art
Name: The Mexican Rebozo: Techniques and Heritage
Trip: Special Event
Name: Day of the Dead
Unlike most other insects in temperate climates, Monarch butterflies cannot survive a long cold winter. Instead, they spend the winter in roosting spots. Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains fly south to the forests high in the mountains of Mexico. In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall. As they migrate southwards, Monarchs stop to nectar, and they actually gain weight during the trip! Some researchers think that Monarchs conserve their "fuel" in flight by gliding on air currents as they travel south. This is an area of great interest for researchers; there are many unanswered questions about how these small organisms are able to travel so far. Another unsolved mystery is how Monarchs find the overwintering sites each year. Somehow they know their way, even though the butterflies returning to Mexico or California each fall are the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous spring. No one knows exactly how their homing system works; it is another of the many unanswered questions in the butterfly world.
"Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. As a result of this mixture, the celebration comes to life as an unique Mexican tradition including an altar and offerings dedicated to the deceased. The altar includes four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. Earth is represented by crop: The Mexicans believe the souls are fed by the aroma of food. Wind is represented by a moving object: Tissue paper is commonly used to represent wind. Water is placed in a container for the soul to quench its thirst after the long journey to the altar. Fire is represented by a wax candle: Each lit candle represents a soul, and an extra one is placed for the forgotten soul." -Mary J. Andrade, from Through the Eyes of the Soul, Day of the Dead in Michoacan