Tzintzutzan–Thursday, February 19th

Today we visited Tzintzutzan–in Purhepecha it translates to ‘the Place of the Hummingbirds’. We spent the morning exploring the ‘yacatas’ which are believed to have been the bases for the Purhepechas’ temples. Even though Tzintzutzan is called the place of the hummingbird, we only saw a few buzzing around in the trees. I did see many different birds including robins, warblers, a black backed oriole (yes, one of those vicious, monarch-eating creatures!!) and a vermillion flycatcher! It’s not the best photo, but I am thrilled to see have seen one!

Here is a yacata that had been restored. When the Spaniards came to this region in the 1500’s, they destroyed much of the temples in an attempt to destroy the culture and religion of the indigenous people. Archaeologists have restored many of the yacatas.

This stone depicts Purhepecha calendar symbols!

As we drove through the hills and mountains and along the streets of Mexico, one thing that we saw time and time again were dogs. Dogs in the streets, dogs at the pyramids, dogs in the school and dogs on the roof! Yes! Dogs on the roof! Why? One of the teachers asked our guide and he told us that the Mexican people often disciplined their dogs by placing them on the roof when they misbehaved. After a certain amount of time, the dogs were allowed to come back down to the ground and resume regular activities. What an interesting form of discipline!

Blogs to check out!

Here are a couple blogs to check out:

Teacher Ruth’s Library Blog

Mrs. Medina’s Second Grade Class Blog

Mr. Szuszkowski’s BlogMr. S is a teacher who was on the Mexico trip. His blog is actually a small part of his webpage that is full of links, pictures, activities and so much more. He was like a professional photographer and took thousands of photos!

Miss Hope’s Blog Another cool blog is from my new friend, Miss Hope. Miss Hope is a Pre-K teacher I met last summer while doing the Monarch Teacher Network Training. She is way cool and oh so funny! Her blog is blocked at school, but please check it out at home. She has many, many way cool photos of our trip.

Wednesday, February 18-Republica Ecuador School

Hi everyone!

Thank you for the very nice comments from teachers, students and parents alike! I am sorry I did not keep up with my blogging the whole time, but it was difficult to get internet access as well as it was very hard to find the time to blog when you leave at 8:30am every morning and get home after 11pm every night!

So, here I am to tell you more about my trip!

Today we went to the Republica Ecuador School on the island of Pacanda in Lake Patzcuaro. The school is rather small compared to Leeds Avenue School! There were approximately 45-50 students in grades 1st-6th. I visited all of the classrooms, but spent most of my time with the 3rd/4th grade class. The kids were very sweet and some were shy. Here are a few photos of the students in their traditional clothes:

Here are some of the boys performing a traditional dance! Don’t they look handsome?

The mothers of the school children prepared a feast for all of us! Here is a woman preparing the corn husks to make tamales. Ms. Lenahan even put her hands in the masa and made a few herself!

Here is one of the mothers preparing tortillas. The students eat tortillas with beans and rice every day for lunch. Do you think they might want to eat pizza on Fridays like we do?

It is time for me to go to bed, so I will end this post here. I will continue telling you more about my magical Mexico journey tomorrow. Until then–buenos noches niños y niñas!


Buonas noches

Hi everyone,

Its almost 11pm and we just got back to the hotel. I am very tired after a long day at the colonies in Sierra Chincua. We had an amazing time and saw even more monarchs today.

None of you got my first question correct! The question was: How many yards are in 10,000 feet? The first thing you need to find is how many feet are in one yard. Did you do that? If you aren’t sure, use the yard stick in the front of the room or ask Mr. Gaffney for help! Come on chicos!

Alexandra, Stephanie, Lee’Sa, Sleyker and Dontae got question #2 correct! Yes, the butterflies are drinking water. No Dariel, they are not taking a bath like your brother needs to! Thanks for making me laugh so hard!

This is a photo taken as we hiked the trail to the colony at Sierra Chincua. I never realized there were such beautiful places to see in Mexico. The view was breath-taking and the air so crisp and clean! All you could hear was the wind blowing in the trees and two ravens calling to each other.

Fifteen of the group chose to hike the first part of the trail, the rest of the group did the whole trail on horseback. After we hiked for about an hour, then we met our horses and our guides. Yes, your teacher rode on a horse up the mountain! My guide’s name is Raul and his horse’s name is Ralampago and both of them were very nice. Raul was about 20 years old and he spoke almost no English. He helped me up into the stirrups and we were on our way!

I am going to make this a shorter post as it is getting to be almost midnight. Here are a few pictures from Chincua. It is probably one of the most magical, spiritual, mysterious places I have ever been to. The amount of monarchs was huge and this time we were right in the midst of the mariposas.
To see them cascading down the mountain was very moving. I had all of you right there with me and thought of you all as the monarchs flitted and fluttered overhead. I wish you could have heard the sounds of their wings whispering as they circled above.
Questions to answer:

1. How many yards are in 10,000 feet?

2. What does cascading mean? Write a definition and a sentence using the word cascade or cascading.

3. I wrote that Raul helped my up into my stirrups and we were on our way. What are stirrups? Write the definition.

I am looking forward to reading all your terrific answers tomorrow night. Please ask Mr. Gaffney for the dictionaries and for help if you need it.

Thanks for being such a terrific class. I am going to bed. Buonas noches…snoring…………

El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary!

I finally made it to the place where our 26 monarchs hopefully migrated! We had a very long bus ride, about 2 1/2 hours over some very bumpy roads that climbed steep into the Transvolcanic Mountain Ridge.  The bus took us through a variety of towns and villages. We saw farmers working their fields with horse and plow.  We saw men and women tending their sheep, goats and cows in fields. We saw school children in their clean, green and white uniforms playing outside. As we drove further into the mountains, my ears kept popping. The colony is located at about 10,000 ft. elevation. 1. About how many yards is that?

Once we got off the bus and everyone had a chance to use the bathroom, our hike up the mountain began! It was kind of a difficult hike, the climb was steep and the elevation made it difficult to breathe. We saw many birds along the way. One of my favorites was the red warbler Our guide said they eat the monarchs, but later we learned that that was not true. According to Erik, there are two that eat our beautiful butterflies in Mexico–the oriole and the grosbeak. We did not see either of these two birds and I am glad!

We continued our climb up the steep mountains, passing many flowering plants and trees. A few monarchs flitted around our heads making all of us even more excited than we already were! When will we see the colony? How long will it take to get there? How many butterflies will there be? As we got closer, we saw some clumps of monarchs hanging from tree branches. We made sure not to disturb them, admired their beauty and continued on our way.

Next we can to a few monarchs on the ground. Here is a photo: 2. Can you guess what they are doing? Please write your answers in complete sentences when you post!

We are now near the top and we can see the mariposas monarca in the distance. How many are there? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? My heart beats faster and I look up…


I have many more photos to share and more to tell, but I must go to sleep now. Tomorrow we head to Chicua and another monarch colony. To my students: please read everything carefully! Don’t just look at the pictures and post. Read what I have written here for you. And after you are done posting here, make sure you read and post on the previous posts as well.

¡Sea bueno!


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