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The Magical Pueblo of Angangueo: Febrero 28, 2022 Monday

In Mexico, some towns have the distinction of being a magical town. These are basically ones that have a local history, and are of interest to tourists. Many of these are small towns that are trying to  preserve their local history in the hope that tourists will want to learn about them.

Angangueo is a former mining town that extracted cooper, lead, and basalt. This was a year round job. The mining stopped being lucrative and there were some accidents with loss of life. There was a mural dedicated to them.

About the same time the butterflies became a tourist attraction. Now the main job is tourism which revolves around the butterflies. Today they are discussing whether they should begin mining again. I hope not. 

The butterfly sanctuaries are located in an ejido which is like an Indian reservation. The government owns the land but the people control what happens on the land. The people of one ejido decided to cut down the oyamel fir trees that the monarch need. It was a very lucrative decision for THAT year but now there is nothing. No topsoil, no chance for tourism. They regret their decision and will pay for that decision for generations. However, it serves as an illustration for the other ejidos. 

Angangueo is known as “the city that will not die”.  In 2002 there was a big flood and much of the town was under water. The President of Mexico was from this area so he was quick to send resources. 

In Canada, Fred and Nora Burkhardt started tagging butterflies in the early 50’s. They knew that they were migrating south from Great Lakes but lost track of them by Texas.  They would advertise in southern papers, attend festivals, and ask locals people if anyone had seen monarch butterflies. 

Lincoln Brower was also searching for this and dedicated his life to learning more about the monarch. 

Kenneth Bruggar’s wife, Talia, from Michoacán, remembered seeing them especially around Day of the Dead which is on Nov 2. Halloween is on October 31, All Saints day is on November 1 and The Day of the Dead is on November 2. Our guide told us that the animated film named Coco is very good at explaining the Day of the Dead celebration. 

Butterflies arrive travel up to 80 miles a day. They do not travel at night. after they were found and researched, an article was published in National Geographic in 1986 but did not indicate the location. More colonies were discovered after that.

Early on, some people thought that the butterflies were a plague and killed the butterflies that formed large clusters on the trees. 

Eric, one of our guides, said that protecting the monarch butterflies consists of four entities and forms the corners of a square and each one needs to be in balance. Science, Government, Local Community, and Individuals (Tourists) 

We see a lot of Volkswagens in Mexico. These are the classic bug. There was a factory here so many people had them, and they still make parts for them.  The Volkswagen was created and designed by Hitler. He named it the “Car of the People”. For obvious reasons, it did not sell well in the USA until early 60s.

I have always wondered about the poinsettia. I knew that it came from Mexico but the word doesn’t sound very Spanish. It was originally called “Mexican flame flower” or “painted leaf”. However, the first US Ambassador to Mexico named Johel Roberts Poinsett claims to have discovered it.   The flower is actually very small in the center surrounded by red pedals which attracts pollinators. 

Tequila is made from the agave plant. The plant being harvested needs to be monitored as bats are the only pollinator. The makers of tequila are not leaving the blooms for pollination so the moral of the story is to buy bat friendly tequila and mezcal. Ask and/or look for “bat friendly”…so now you know. 



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