They're up there somewhere – at the moment that’s all we know.
Just arrived in the small mountain town of Angangueno, a couple of hours drive north-west of Mexico City. Across the straw-coloured, dry season planes, past roadside vendors selling sliced watermelons, peaches, and tepache -- the juice of fermented pineapple skin. And now the evening sunlight through the sharp mountain air is doing wonders for the rows of geraniums in terracotta pots outside blue and purple painted houses.
We’re surrounded by pine-covered slopes that head steeply up towards the butterfly forests, somewhere around the 3000 m mark, but I don't yet know how much further we have to go to find them. The road from here just seems to wind up and up into the hills.
Outside the hotel now there's a camera crew unloading gear -- we're certainly not the first to come here on the monarch trail. The tourist industry is big as well and there are vans painted in the monarch's orange and black colours and kiosks offering guided tours. And for me at the moment there’s a mixture of excitement at the prospect of seeing one of the great natural wonders, and nervousness that either it won’t live up to the glossy media images or that I'll be more aware of the butterfly watchers than the butterflies. I've also been reading some pretty shocking things about the threat from logging, and I want to find out more.
Meeting scientist, Chip Taylor, in a couple of days. He's involved in a program to tag butterflies and follow their journey -- I know -- I can't imagine what kind of tag you can put on such a flimsy insect, but I'll find out. Will keep you posted look out for the photos and video too.
Next report: Running with Monarchs Part II